This is your totally unqualified review of the Treefort Music Festival you didn't ask for written by someone with no experience writing reviews. My one lone qualification is I love and listen to a lot of music. I do have my favorite music style. Give me a melody with some ewws and ahhhs then throw in a Moog keyboard and you've got a hit in my book. Now that you know where I’m coming from let’s get this started.
I’ll start with the festival itself. Treefort is hosted in Boise, ID pronounced boy-see, not boy-zee apparently. This was my first time to Boise which has a pretty unique vibe of being a college town, biggest city in the state, and state capitol. Treefort is like a mini-SXSW that started in 2012 with 137 bands and has grown to over 430 bands this year spread across nearly 20 venues in a 1.5 mile radius. This is good and bad. It gives a lot of bands the opportunity to showcase their music and expands the choices you have. But that’s too many choices in my opinion. One is exposed to far too many mediocre or lesser bands and often you have to make hard choices on whether to stick around or hoof it for a mile to see that other band you really wanted to see.
However it’s something I’m willing to deal with because it seems to be part of the spirit of Treefort. Far too many festivals are filled with huge commercial acts and I would rather see the unknowns get their chance to showcase their music. Another positive about how expansive Treefort is it means no person has the same Treefort experience. The festival itself is a full community experience with the town of Boise totally embracing Treefort as part of its identity.
So let’s get down and dirty with my Best & Worst of Treefort
The Best of Treefort
Rubblebucket @ El Korah shrine
Rubblebucket is the complete package. They were the main selling point to the 10 hour drive down to Boise and they were totally worth it. Although I had just heard about them in 2014 they have been releasing albums since 2008. When I miss things like this it makes me seriously question my past life decisions. How could I have gone so long without knowing who Rubblebucket was?
In 2008 I moved from Kansas City to D.C. to Vegas where I worked a soul sucking job for two years…question answered. Don’t work soul sucking jobs or you may miss out on one of the coolest bands of your lifetime.
You may think I’m overselling this band and I can tell you I’m not. Some bands can produce a great sounding studio album but have lackluster live performances or perhaps have that great energy with poor sound production. Rubblebucket does everything well with a totally unique original sound. However the performance is what makes the show. Rubblebucket could get a room full of coma patients dancing. The floor felt like it would give way from the jumping. People were crowd surfing with at one point Annakalmia and Alex accompanied by his trumpet joining the fun. Oh, and they had a confetti gun….cool….
“RUBBLEBUCKET COULD GET A ROOM FULL OF COMA PATIENTS DANCING”
As a testament to the toughness and charisma of lead singer Annakalmia Traver, in the summer 2013 Annakalimia was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, and completed treatment while on tour. Travers confidence is contagious with her ability to lift you up to her level and force you to have fun whether you wanted to or not. And she will bring you there kicking and screaming if necessary. A vigorous head nod is guaranteed midway through the first song with a full out dance coming by the second song. I didn't want it to end…and they did keep the party going….and going…..and going…..literally playing from the rafters at end the show. At one point there were nearly 50 people from the audience on a stage too small to fit them. The encore lasted for nearly 30 minutes and consisted of a few extra on stage songs with the band whole band jumping down into the crowd to just jam for 15 minutes with each member taking turns jumping up into a ledge to show off their moves.
Still three days later I’m riding the high from this show asking why can’t it always be fun……always always always….
Rubblebucket is currently on tour but have already left the west coast with their remaining dates being on the east coast. If you find yourself on the east coast near a city they happen to be playing in this shoulder season I would highly recommend attending a show.
Rubblebucket Songs on WCR rotation:
1. Carosel Ride
2. My Life
Yacht @ El Korah Shrine
Yacht is funky and fun. The lead singer Jona Bechtolt oozes confidence. The floors were bouncing like a trampoline for this one too. Great fun show that the crowd really loved. I lost interest with some of their more eclectic songs however they kept the energy high.
Yacht Songs on WCR rotation:
1. Works Like Magic
DESERT NOISES @ KRBX STUDIO
I'm adding this one in here to highlight how awesome KRBX Radio Boise, the community radio station of Boise, is. Anyone was welcome to just wander in and get a nearly private show of any of the dozen bands they had playing in their studio. I hope to one day have a setup like theirs. Also, a big thank you to Brit to giving me some pointers on live sound recording for WCR.
Desert Noises is an emerging rock band that I feel has a bright future. Not only are these dudes some of the nicest people I met while in Boise they play some great music too. Even in the impersonal setting of being locked in sound studio lead singer Kyle Henderson sang like he was playing to an auditorium of people. I really wanted to check these guys out at a later show but the vastness of Treefort showed it's ugly head as I wanted to also see a band over at the main stage. I now regret that decision. These guys are great.
Desert Noises Songs on WCR Rotation:
1. I Won't See You
GENERATIONALS @ EL KORAH SHRINE
We've already established I'm a fan of ewws and ahhs and moog synths so I it's pretty easy for me to like the Generationals. The sound and execution were spot on however they did lack passion. The Generationals remind me of a poor mans Foster The People which happens to be one of my favorite bands. I'm not sure what separates a performance with passion vs one without however you can feel weather there is something else driving the band besides just being there to pick up a check. Perhaps it was just an off night. I'd still like to see them if they are near Northwest Montana in the future.
Generationals Songs on WCR Rotation:
1. Gold Silver Diamond
YIP DECIEVER @ EL KORAH SHRINE
This band was a pleasant surprise to me. Yip Deceiver is a dance-rock band that really delivers. I loved the keyboard. They had great energy although the crowd only seemed mildy entertained.
Yip Deciever Songs on WCR Rotation:
WE ARE THE WILLOWS @ BOISE ROCK SCHOOL PARKING LOT
Another pleasant surprise was We Are The Willows. I was just walking by as these guys were playing and they drew me in and and wouldn't let me go. I was hungry and wanted to get something to eat and kept telling myself one more song. I ended up staying until they were done.
We are the Willows Songs on WCR Rotation:
Worst of Treefort
Vietkong @ El Korah Shrine
OK kids. I know this is the “it” indie band of 2015 but I clearly just don’t get it. I’ve chosen not to add any of their their songs to the WCR rotation because they are just boring. The same can be said of their live performance. Boring. They bring plenty of energy but no passion. As far as the band themselves they’ve done nothing to re-invent the sound in which they copy. I’m just going to go with it’s me not you. I just don’t deserve you and we need to stop dating.
Foxygen @ The Main Stage
Foxygen gets one point for being able to watch the trainwreck. Lead Singer Sam France is apparently notorious for his antics. By my count he broke 3 microphones and grew frustrated when after substantial abuse his microphone ceased to work. Most of his “dancing” looked like someone having a seizure. He should have just kept the microphone in his pants and let the band play as the performance was improved when France’s microphone was not working. This was my first time seeing Foxygen live and was pretty confused as to whether this was actually them since it sounded so terrible.
Thunderpussy @ Hanna's
I have to admit I mostly just wanted to see a band called Thunderpussy. With a name like this I expected a show with a lot of attitude. What I saw instead was a band that reminded me of Crucial Taunt from Waynes World (the band of Wayne's love interest Cassandra Wong)…..which would have been O.K. if this was 1992.
Notes From Other Bands Seen
Animal Eyes: …pretty Good
Built To Spill: ...started on time. The longer they played the more I got into it. Pretty average.
Caddywhompus: Rockin, Awesome. Tight Sound. Music stripped down. From New Orleans. Fun
Centillions: Decent music. Average Vocals.
Fauna Shade: Sort of a low key Greendayish Sound. Good energy and execution.
Lemolo: Airy. Decent live. Nothing special.
Slow Bird: Lead signer plays keyboard. Great sound but heard the sound before. Executed well.
Strange Wild: Unoriginal. Bad sound.
The BGP: Two girls a keyboard and something else. Good fan base.
The Donkeys: Same old stuff.
The Shivas: Female drummer who is also the lead singer. Kinda cool. Music you would hear in a Tarantino movie. A little repetitive.
Tomten: Not a 3 piece band. Thank god. Not a lot of energy. Slightly boring. I'm a sucker for moog synths.
TV on the Radio: Long winding opening. Reminds me a lot of early 2000’s rock. Crowd not super into it. Almost a jam band with more funk.
The Velvet Teen: Made me think of the one that got away. Not very inspiring but tight sound.
Vinyl Williams: …dreamy
What Moon Thing: Screaming guitars. Good energy. Screamo but not scream. Reminds me of a band called Sponge from the 90’s
Bands that I wanted to see but missed for one reason or another.
Cymbals Eat Guitars.
Trampled by Turtles.
Overall Treefort was well worth the admission price of 179 dollars for a 5 day festival. However I hope they avoid the mass commercialization that other festivals such as SXSW have experienced and keep this a more local low key festival that gives the smaller bands a chance to pack the crowds.One last tip for the Treefort organizers. More porta-pottys.
Boy-see thanks for being an awesome host city. I’ll be back next year.