As Boise, Idaho’s Treefort Music Fest wrapped up this Sunday night, it marks an incredible run for the festival. This year symbolized a milestone for the Treefort team, as they successfully passed the five year mark. It’s surreal to reflect back on those initial meetings–filled with a healthy mix of hope and anxiety–before Treefort’s fledgling, inaugural festival in 2012. Since then, they’ve galvanized the Boise music community, garnered national attention, wrangled in artists who headline their major festival counterparts, achieved B-Corp status, added yoga, tech, comedy, food, film and performance art features to the fest and put on some damn good shows.
The dust has now settled on Treefort 2016 and we’ve had some time to reflect. In honor of Treefort reaching its fifth year, here are our five most memorable moments of Treefort Fest 2016. A major thank you and congratulations to all the Treefort team members for pulling off another successful edition.
#5 Our Showcase: Hey, at least we ranked it last, right? And truthfully, the showcase constituted a whole lot of moments. But this year was something truly special for us. After throwing events in Austin, Seattle, and Portland, we first put on the showcase in 2014. Just two short years later, our favorite annual event now takes place on Front Street in Boise. We were very proud of the lineup this year, but even more proud to see familiar faces returning to be a part of the event yet again. In the era of .78 second attention spans on the 2016 Internet, these face-to-face meetings between bands and fans become even more meaningful. Shouts out to Woodland Empire, master of sound Jeff Simmons, all the bands and everyone who came through. You can scope the full photo series of the showcase here.
#4: Cumbia at Reef: One of the allures of Treefort is the sheer quantity of acts. Estimates may vary, but we’re talking 400+ acts throughout the five day event. Given the geographical factors, Treefort does tend to lean heavily towards Pacific Northwest bands (Treefort is officially the largest Portland music festival in America). That’s a very deep well to drawn from. However, avoiding genre redundancy is crucial for a fest oriented around discovery.
That’s why La Misa Negra’s 12:30am set at Reef on Friday night was so important. The eight-piece Oakland, CA band focuses on twentieth century Afro-Colombian cumbia music. They’ve stated their name “pays tribute to the genre’s African roots and Caribbean heritage, and celebrates the spirit and ritual of dance.” So as La Misa Negra lit up Reef with their high-intensity, brass-fueled, sensual, vibrant cumbia, it reflected Treefort’s mission to book diverse acts. On this note, check out a great article on Treefort’s gender inclusive nature.
#3 Doug Martsch ballin at Rigsketball: Boise hometown hero Doug Martsch is no stranger to Treefort, as his band Built to Spill has played every Treefort Fest since its inception. Indicative of Treefort’s intimate festival environment, you’re likely to see Doug out at shows during the five day span. One place you might not typically expect to see him is on the Rigsketball court.
Rigsketball is a Portland-based hoops tourney that’s played on a basket mounted to the back of a tour van. I highly advise you check it out if you’re in PDX. Fortunately for the rest of us, Rigsketball mastermind Bim brought the game to Treefort. Team Apes on Tape was lucky enough to play (we got the W). You can imagine my surprise to look over to the sidelines and see Doug watching our game. Afterwards, ~cue blushing~ he even complimented my game. He stuck around to shoot 5-point, half court shots and show off his own skills.
#2 Finn Riggins opening for Tartufi : If you’ve attended Treefort before–or Boise music events outside the fest for that matter–you’re probably familiar with festival director Eric Gilbert. Gilbert’s efforts to bring a unique, artist-centric, inclusive event trickle through all levels of Treefort. Prior to Treefort, Gilbert played in his Idaho-based band Finn Riggins and they’ve been a staple at the festival. Though as Finn Riggins’ shows have thinned somewhat, these TF sets mark a special occasion each year.
At Treefort V, Finn Riggins opened for San Francisco trio Tartufi opened for on Saturday night. The two bands are former tour mates and long time pals, which made an already emotional Linden Building lineup even more full of feels. Gilbert expressed his genuine appreciation for everyone involved with Treefort as Finn Riggins delivered a powerfully poignant set, including a cover of Tartufi. Tartufi then took the stage and returned the favor by covering Finn Riggins. Singer Lynne Angel spoke to the crowd about how important this show was for the band, their gratitude for the festival and how much Gilbert puts into the the Boise arts community.
#1 Youth Lagoon’s Final American Performance: While Youth Lagoon’s headlining set at Treefort 2016 carried weight when the original lineup dropped, that weight amplified intensely when Trevor Powers announced in February that he was ending the project. Moreover, Youth Lagoon’s hometown show at Treefort would be the band’s final American performance. Thus, this was a loaded set to begin with.
After an excellent performance from Chairlift, Youth Lagoon arrived to close out Treefort 2016’s main stage on Sunday night. From the initial Savage Hills Ballroom opener “No One Can Tell”, the band marched through seventy five minutes of emotionally charged tracks which spanned through each of Powers’ three albums. Highlights included on-point live translations of last year’s electric Savage Hills Ballroom album, the crowd singing “Happy Birthday” on Powers’ request, a sing along through the outro of “Dropla” and a tear-jerking encore rendition of “17”. For those of us Pacific Northwesterners whom grew up east of the Cascades, Youth Lagoon’s rise via Year of Hibernation signaled hope that music communities outside Portland and Seattle might shape the region’s culture. As Powers lay Youth Lagoon to rest on the main stage of Treefort’s fifth, culturally relevant and now financially successful run, that sentiment seemed alive and well.