Treefort Music Fest is about to take over Boise, Idaho from March 21-25, and we want to help you digest this huge festival.
There are multiple “forts” that Treefort tries to tackle, and they’ve done an excellent job at diversifying who they reach. Each fort has a different focus that ranges from Alefort and Comedyfort to Filmfort and Foodfort. While those are all really exciting pieces to what makes this festival so amazing, we want to focus more on the music. That alone is going to have your head spinning. With over 460 bands across 30+ stages all across downtown Boise, there’s going to be plenty of music to keep you busy for five days. If you do get tired though, you can always go center yourself in the Yogafort.
Since we are a music blog (and podcast) though, let’s stick with what we know. Let’s get to the draft.
This festival has an absurdly long list of excellent bands. We had to draft some help in the form of Katherine Barner from KUGR in Pullman, Washington so we could give you guys a better feel for this festival. We figured there was no better guest for this one since a lot of these bands reside in her backyard. The 4 of us, Seth, Caleb, Nathan, and Kat drafted a six band team of who we want to see at Treefort. The rules to the draft are simple: We each get six bands, the draft goes in a serpentine fashion (last person of the first round is first in the second round), and you can only have two bands that you’ve listened to prior to the draft. Without further ado, here we go!
*note there are affiliate links on the albums, feel free to spend money on their bandcamp, itunes, or just by giving them plays on spotify, we don’t really care, we just hope you find something good to listen to and support the artists*
Kat: Mother Yeti
Mother Yeti is based out of Pullman, Washington. They have this really cool rock reggae mix. They started as a three piece but have grown to double the size in the past three years. Their best song is “Ambush.” It’s a rock song that could almost be in a modern western movie. It could totally be used in the HBO show West World during a gun show down.
Most recent album:
Caleb: Mimicking Birds
I’ve been a huge fan of Mimicking Birds since their self-titled album back in 2014. The first song (and still one of their best) I heard was “Burning Stars”, and I was immediately hooked. Their sound has evolved a bit since then to add some synthy elements that I think will translate really well to a live setting, and Nate Lacy’s voice would sound great over the sound of a backing up truck, lucky for you, their instrumentals are much better than that. Check out the song: “Sunlight Daze” off their newest album, and try not to get emotional.
Most recent album:
Seth: Epic Beard Men
I have listened to Sage Francis forever. A Healthy Distrust was the second album that got me into the idea of viewing hip-hop outside of the broad paintbrush of “screw girls, get money,” the first being Busdriver’s “Temporary Forever.” I know there have been men and women making this kind of rap for much longer, but they’re the guys who introduced me to that world. Anyways, Sage Francis teams up with B. Dolan to form Epic Beard Men. I never listened to B. Dolan prior to Epic Beard Men, but I am so happy to have found this. If you enjoy fast hitting, thought provoking rap that is bound to make you move, find these guys.
Seth: Swatkins and the Positive Agenda
I had never heard of Steveland Swatkins before this festival draft, but I’m stoked I came across him. The description of him on the Treefort site told me all that I needed to know, but I wanted to learn more about this “joyful prophet of positivity.” I have said openly and plainly time and time again that I am not the biggest fan of autotune, vocoders, talkboxes, etc., but there’s something really fun about what is going on with this. After listening to how much fun Swatkins has on the tracks, I can only imagine how much fun their live show would be.
Most recent work:
Caleb: Built to Spill
I don’t want to be a “gatekeeper”, but if you call yourself a fan of “emo music”, like real emo music, and you don’t know these guys, please please do yourself a favor and listen to their 1999 album Keep It Like a Secret right now and thank me for changing your entire worldview. As far as songs off their newest release go, check out “Never Be The Same”. Their sound has developed into a little more polished/upbeat vibe, and I wouldn’t miss this show for the end of the world. You never know how many more times you’ll ever have a chance to catch them given their tendency to go quiet for years at a time.
Most recent album:
Escondido has a very unique sound that I’m just now discovering that I’m fond of. The Nashville-based band has a Western feel to their music. Comprised of Jessica Maros and Tyler James, both sing, the duo often features intertwining over steel-string guitar and poppy drums. Their music conjures visions in my head reminiscent of Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, and also Back to the Future III, for some reason. It’s given my commute the past few days very energetic and wistful.
Kat: Skinny The Kid
Skinny the Kid is based in Moscow, Idaho which is a 15 minute drive from Pullman. They are a four piece band and the same couple that owns their record label also owns the best gig spot in my area called Humble Burger. They sound like a mixture of The Strokes and The Arctic Monkey’s Favourite Worst Nightmare album. Their music is led by upbeat high pitched guitar licks which is why they remind me of The Strokes. One of their best songs is “Shaking” because it is a story based song that reminds me of “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash. Another great one is “Samaritan”. It’s fast paced and exciting, which gets the crowd into them, and then it breaks down into a two beat feel.
Most recent album:
Kat: Toy Zoo
Toy Zoo is from Boise, Idaho. They have a cool electronic, kind of psychedelic, rock sound. The singer has a voice kind of like Geddy Lee from Rush.
Nathan: The Dip
The Dip is a very soulful group that, again, has brass/sax in it. Sensing a pattern with me yet? The seven-piece combines R&B with pop, and un-surprisingly they’ve created a very funky sound. I can’t help but groove a little bit when listening to their music even while in public, which is kind of a problem since I try not to dance in public. Oh, and the bassist plays a Rickenbacker, which is what I play, so I naturally just love these guys.
Caleb: Up is the Down is the
So far, picking bands purely off the weirdness of their names has been a good strategy for me. Check out their song “Radiate” of their debut album, it’s sexy af. This band will be amazing for you to catch without having to push too hard to get near the front. You’ll look like you know what you are talking about after you drag your friends to these smooth bass lines and beautiful female vocals. You’re welcome.
Seth: Stelth Ulvang
One really cool thing about this festival is that it has introduced me to acts built off of other things that I enjoy. Stelth Ulvang is the pianist of The Lumineers. As soon as they finish a tour, he leaves for yet another tour to promote his solo project. This is something that doesn’t get nearly the accolades as The Lumineers, of course, but I think I enjoy this even more. With a more “rough around the edges” approach to the music while still feeling very clean and polished, this multi-instrumentalist tries his hand at lead vocals, and excels.
Seth: Kweku Collins
This has to be my favorite steal of the draft! Kweku is the only artist that I picked that I had listened to prior to this draft, and if you want to know just how much I listened to him, Holla If Ya Hear Me was my fifth most played song of 2017 on Spotify. Smooth rap from a young guy who is doing all of the right things. If you like Daughter, but have never heard of Kweku, start with Lonely Lullabies. He takes the guitar part from Youth, and changes it into something you’ve never heard before.
Stop what you are doing and go listen to “Boogieshuttle.” I doubt you’ll have to listen to much more to convince you that you have to check out this band. They have strong “southern rock” vibes. They somewhat remind me of a mix between classic ZZ Top and a band like Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. Either way, I know this band will be making a lot of people move their bodies at Treefort.
Nathan: The Regrettes
Kat: Mt. Eddy
Mt. Eddy is from Oakland, California. They are obviously good because one of Billie Joe Armstrong’s kid is in it. They definitely aren’t as grunge or hardcore like Green Day was in the Dookie ages, but you can hear the influence Billie had on them. They also have upbeat high pitched guitar lead music which reminds me of The Strokes. One of their best songs is “I Luv Robert Smith” WHICH almost has the same guitar line as “Samaritan” by Skinny The Kid.
Kat: Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks is from Chicago, Illinois. They are one of those bands that has shown up on most people’s social media pages. Finn Wolfhart’s band Calpurnia recently covered their song “Wanted You” which has helped them reach a larger audience.
Nathan: Magic Sword
This definitely ended up being my most avant-garde pick. I don’t really know that I can sum them up with words. You just need to listen to them. Here is their most recent album on bandcamp. They have some old school punk elements to them, they have jazz elements, and the upbeat surfy vibes that they bring will be really fun to dance to. This is one you need to take a chance on. Their energy is absolutely insane.
Most recent album:
Seth: Western Daughter
I picked this band before listening to their music, and it’s not because of the name or the fact that there are six people in this band (according to the picture on the Treefort site), but it was because of their biography. I want to get a real feel for Treefort, and these are the folks to give it to me. They were basically born in the bowels of Treefort, playing their first official show at the festival in 2015. That’s what led me to them, and their emotional vocals, stellar lyrics, and a very Front Bottoms vibe all around are the things that made me stick around. Don’t miss these folks.
Seth: Dark Rooms
Man, what a way for me to closeout my draft. These guys have something to them where even after you hear it once and leave it sitting on the shelf for a couple of hours, you can still hear the haunting vocals in your head. If you’ve seen A Ghost Story, then you know Dark Rooms. I Get Overwhelmed is a large reason that A Ghost Story is such a beautiful and poignant film with Daniel Hart’s hushed falsetto guiding Casey Affleck through the movie. If you need something to make you cry and center your mind while at the festival, check out these guys at Neurolox at 10 pm on Thursday.
Caleb: Clarke and the Himselfs
This is my most pleasant surprise of the whole draft. They’ve quickly become one of my favorite bands of the moment. The best song I’ve heard so far is “Asteroid”, whose lyrics focus on Satan and God coming out of the universe. “Satan came down from outer space, they didn’t know that the people rejoiced cause they knew his face, God came down from the universe, he didn’t know that the people rejoiced cause they knew his works (words?)” This band is a must listen to anyone who like Neutral Milk Hotel, Wolf Parade, or Yuck. Lo-fi vibes, emotive, strained vocals, wonderfully quirky lyrics.
Nathan: Prism Bitch
Prism Bitch is probably one of the most punk names for a group I’ve ever heard. Also, in their bio on Spotify, they list themselves as being a “group that started as a four piece and asexually reproduced a fifth member”, which I think is absolutely hilarious. They’re very soulful, and remind me a lot of The Pixies. Their stuff is very melodic with occasional walls of sound that just blow me away. They also really like to perform, with their live shows being very energetic and fun. Their track Treehouse begins with one of the vocalists just screaming, “everybody shut the fuck up”, which puts me into stitches pretty much every time I hear it.
Kat: Hallowed Oak
Hallowed Oak is also from Moscow, Idaho. They are a five piece, two guitars, drums, bass, and a violin, which makes them really interesting because you’d assume they are more folk, but actually they are more rock. They have a cool YouTube series called the 909 Session. Their best song is “Dancing” which is featured on their 909 Sessions. You can find it here: YouTube The singer in the song has really smooth vocals, and I just love smooth sounding vocals.
Most recent album:
Alright guys, so that does it for our preview of the Treefort Music Fest. With so many phenomenal talents, we could’ve gone another ten rounds. This festival is really something incredible. How did we do? Did we hit on some of your top choices for the festival? Who did we miss? Let us know so we can check them out.
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