I was driving through a snowstorm in Northern Utah listening to a radio talk show debate whether South by SouthWest could ever return to its indie roots. The host of the show finally concluded that the only way back to the original spirt of SXSW would be to start up a totally new show somewhere else “like a small town in Idaho.” I started yelling at the radio — “That’s where I’m heading!”
I was on my way through the previously mentioned snowstorm to the second year of the Treefort Music Festival, Boise’s now annual ode to the indie gods of music. Treefort kicked off last year (with much adulation from MFJ) and we wanted to check out how Idaho’s newest festival would handle the second time around.
All I can say: What growing pains?
Treefort, now boasting over 250 bands, threw down again for a near perfect weekend of music and good times in the city of Boise. From the outdoor main stage to dive bars to restaurants and even the Shriner’s Club, Treefort is certainly defining itself as a true DIY festival. It’s a welcome change from heavily sponsored mega-festivals — the stages at Treefort have zero advertising and sponsorships appear to be limited to a small shout out on the official website. Best of all, the city and people of Boise could not be more welcoming to us out-of-towners.
What follows are a few “best-of” moments and places from Treefort 2013:
Best Moment of the Weekend: Not only catching the Camper Van Beethoven set, but realizing the older dude shaking his ass off next to me in the middle of the crowd is Doug Martsch from Built to Spill.
Best Venue: The Shriner’s Auditorium is amazing. A small capacity venue that feels like the band just showed up to your high school prom.
Best Accidental Band: We stopped by the Neruolox early Saturday afternoon — no real show had been scheduled, but we stumbled across the Semi-Acoustic Showcase featuring members of Campfire OK, Kithkin, Learning Team, and Ben Fisher performing a collaborative loose jam set that the tone for our first day at Treefort.
Best Set aka My Favorite Set: The Walkmen on Saturday night killed it with a fun show, although some of my delight can be credited to the previous hour we spent “reporting” on Alefort (see below).
Best Fest Within in a Fest: Alefort, the mini beer festival of Treefort, moved closer to the main stage and set up a new token sampling system that packed the tent this year. They’re definitely going to have expand this area next year as it was just a tad too crowded.
Best Place To Recover: The Egyptian Theater played music films all weekend like Dave Grohl’s new Solid Sound documentary and vids from L.A.’s music video film festival. It’s also a great spot to catch a quick nap on a Sunday afternoon.
Best Pleasant Surprise: Some of the venues at Treefort are all ages and the teens in Boise turned out in force. I don’t know what’s in Boise’s water, but the teenagers in this city are some of the most non-irritating I’ve ever encountered. Ever.
Best Non-Treefort Venue That Should Be A Venue Next Year: The Torch — this place is nothing but class.