Boise, the cultural oasis of Idaho, as well as Eastern Oregon, hosted the fourth annual 5-day Treefort Music Festival this past weekend.
Treefort doesn’t have the drugged-out “let’s-wear-American-flags-as-capes” vibe as Sasquatch or Coachella. Instead, its part-street fair part-Portland’s MusicFestNW (back when it was still held in various bars). Treefort consists of several areas, including Alefort, Comedyfort, Yogafort and Hackfort (for tech-savvy festivalgoers), as well as a main stage.
Adjacent to the main tent is a block-long row of food carts, where you can get everything from Boise’s own potato bacon pizza to the Boston shake — a milkshake with a sundae on top. Each day, four or five shows performed on the main stage, with the rest scattered at 20 different venues in the downtown area, creating a city-wide community music celebration.
Friday night, Built to Spill gave a less than enthusiastic performance, lacking the same energy as (I hope) they had 15 years ago. Frontman Doug Martsch looked like he’d rather sleep than play an encore — but maybe I’m just bitter they didn’t play “Strange.” Built to Spill closed out the main stage, but the downtown party had just begun.
Afterward, San Francisco pop punk band Joyce Manor played a full house to the industrial-style bar Knitting Factory, covering songs from their latest release Never Hungover Again. When they asked the crowd to buy them tequila shots, a woman obliged and the band happily took them onstage.
A few blocks away, Neurolux was filled to capacity with a line halfway down the block. Boise band The Dirty Moogs, a gang of four men with white-rimmed glasses and button-down shirts played electronic space-age music as a laser light show was projected on a thin scrim in front of them.
Saturday’s lineup included Desert Noises, Motopony and !!! (pronounded chk-chk-chk) on the main stage, as well as shows until 2 am to round out Treefort’s last night.
In the early evening, New Orleans band Generationals played the main stage, providing indie electro-rock jams for the sunny Boise day, playing songs from their recent release Alix and ending with “Trust,” an anthemy dance song that’s genuinely hard not to like.
What Generationals did best, however, was warming up the crowd for Foxygen, the Westlake, California-based psychedelic rock band. Foxygen gave one of the best performances of the day, complete with choreography from ’60s-style backup dancers, broken mirrors and the always energetic performance of frontman Sam France, who is reminiscent of Mick Jagger. The photographers were equally as entertaining to watch as they dodged France’s movements while clicking aways.
Later that night, Of Montreal performed to a sold-out show at the El Korah Shrine (or “The Shriner” to locals). The Athens-based psychedelic rock band (who’s toured with both Foxygen and Generationals) played for almost two hours, performing everything from “The Party’s Crashing Us” (2005) to songs from their recent release Aureate Gloom. The always enigmatic frontman Kevin Barnes sang with a solemn, straight face as projections of psychedelic kaleidoscopic art and images of sperm played behind him. The show ended in a prompt and epic 25-minute encore. During this time, most of the crowd made their way out and only the truest Of Montreal appreciators danced until the end.
Despite the 8-hour drive through high desert and eerily small towns, I’m sold for Treefort 2016.