For five days in late March, Boise, Idaho is transformed into a forest of cartoon-y trees, costumes, delicious smells, tasty tastes, beautiful art, and, most importantly, amazing sounds. This year marked the 5th annual
Treefort Music Festival, a huge multi-venue event held in Boise’s downtown. Originally started using Austin’s SXSW as a model, Treefort has grown into its own as a unique celebration of art and music in the northwest. Here are 10 reasons why it deserves your attention:
1. Boise’s Local Music Scene
While Seattle and Portland are considered the main music hubs of the northwest, Boise’s music presence can be heard for miles. The sludgy psychedelia of
Sun Blood Stories
, psych-soul grooves of
, brassy funk of
Lounge on Fire
, and nostalgic experimental-pop of
continue to be staples of Treefort’s showcase of Boise’s eclectic community of artists. Intermixed with the festival’s touring acts, the locals not only hold their own, but often become highlights for out-of-towners and Boiseans alike.
2. Touring Acts
Despite being massively supported by community volunteers, Treefort is by no means a small-time festival. Over the festival’s five-year existence the larger venues have had the pleasure of hosting internationally successful acts like TV on the Radio, Run the Jewels, of Montreal, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, and Dan Deacon. Many of Treefort’s famous alumni have enjoyed their time in Boise so much, that they’ve returned for more shows, in several cases within the same year of their first time.
Many bands from elsewhere in the northwest have found a loyal fanbase in Boise as well. Portland acts like
Like a Villain
have returned to large, enthusiastic crowds since their Treefort debuts.
Much of Treefort’s promotional material claims the festival has "something for everyone," and this is most certainly the case. For those with interests in technology, Hackfort provides workshops, a variety of
, and open discussions on programming, 3D printing, virtual reality, apps, and more.
It should come as no surprise that the northwest loves its craft beer. Boise itself is home to many popular breweries like Payette, Sockeye, Woodland Empire, and Boise Brewing, among others. With microbrews available at almost all of Treefort’s venues, attendees have plenty of opportunities to try what Boise has to offer, as well as beer from the festival’s longtime Fort Collins’ partner, New Belgium Brewing. A tent, dubbed Alefort, located outside of Treefort’s Main Stage allows festival goers to enjoy a wide variety of beer near the heart of the event.
Unfortunately, a mix of late night music and too much beer can lead to rough mornings. Yogafort to the rescue! Beginning in the morning, before the festival’s main events, Yogafort provides classes on yoga, dance, and meditation accompanied by soothing music. This guarantees a peaceful start to the day and continues on into the early evening
From fiction to slam poetry to journalism, Storyfort hosts a variety of readings, discussions, and performances for anyone who an interest in the creative use of language. With plenty of attention given to local writers and students, Storyfort gives wordsmiths of all ages an opportunity to share their work in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
7. Other Performances
Despite the name, Treefort Music Fest, isn’t just about seeing concerts. Performances of all types can be found at Treefort, some impromptu, others meticulously planned. Ballet Idaho’s
and Project Flux’s
have both choreographed dance performances for the festival. Musician and composer Seth Olinksy has conducted his mammoth composition "Band Dialogue," consisting of over 50 musicians from the festival’s many bands, three years in a row. No matter what someone comes to see at Treefort, they’ll end up seeing something entirely new to them.
8. Food Trucks
Next to the main stage, visitors can find a large gathering of food trucks with burgers, tacos, pizza, rice bowls, sandwiches, wraps, mac ‘n cheese, and pretty much anything else you can think of. This outdoor food court is open to everyone, festival pass or not, so anyone in the area can go down and soak up Treefort’s atmosphere.
9. Downtown Boise
One of the purposes of Treefort is to introduce out-of-towners to Boise, and the downtown area is the perfect place to start. If you’re looking for a dine-in experience, Treefort is located in the best place for it. With all the venues scattered in Boise’s downtown, you’ll never be far from the city’s best local restaurants.
Bittercreek Ale House
can be found within a couple blocks of whatever Treefort event you’re heading to or from, while shops like
The Record Exchange
are there to give you your local shopping fix.
These businesses, of course, love the extra business they receive from festival goers. Many of them up their
local marketing game
while others partner with Treefort or provide special deals for those with festival passes. This helps stimulate Boise’s economy and helps "put it on the map," so to speak.
As you might find printed on the posters, fliers, and "trail guides" throughout town, Treefort is a "festival of discovery." This is perhaps the festival’s most important element. While the bands you are excited to see might draw you in, you’re bound to be exposed to plenty of new, unique experiences. Whether you utilized the Treefort app to investigate unfamiliar acts and events beforehand, or you stumbled into a venue during an unknown band’s set, there will always be plenty to surprise you. If you consider going to this beautiful festival, be prepared to have your mind repeatedly blown.
What do you think? Have I convinced you to check out Treefort next year? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.