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In this podcast episode Anthony, Joe, and Russ assemble to discuss the festivities, events, and music that took place at Treefort Music Fest in downtown Boise from March 21-25. With music from Deathlist, Qais Essar, and more!
With a staggering amount of bands this year (460), it was an overwhelming amount of music to discover in the best way possible. Here's a look at just a few of our favorite sights and sounds from the best spring festival in the United States. If you're not planning for Treefort Music Fest 2019 you should be!
While most music fans lined up Wednesday night to see Lola Marsh and Cults at the El Korah shrine a real gem of a show was sequenced between them; Transistor Send. The band, fronted by Boise's Casey Cathey, is an experimental noise-pop band with extremely infectious melodies and looping. Instruments and sounds continue to build and weave in and out of the band's music to create feelings of euphoria that stayed with attendees long after the performance was over. Transistor Send is on the cusp of a new album so keep it locked on the Transistor Send Bandcamp page!
Treefort wouldn't be the same without an epic Magic Sword show and 2018 was no different as the band and lightsaber wielding cult followers filled up the Knitting Factory Friday night. The show was replete with fantasy theatrics, foreboding gloom, and more importantly, heroic and expansive riffs, bass, beats, and drums. The band is picking up a lot of well-deserved exposure these days and we dont anticipate that slowing down anytime soon.
Arguably the best band at the festival, Typhoon's set was bolstered by tracks from what is already a shoe-in candidate for album of the year in Offerings. The sheer range of lyricism and emotion that lead singer Kyle Morton can pack into his music is often beyond words. The band never seem to step on each other's toes in terms of live performance either. The result is indie folk that borders on orchestral in sound and precision. Typhoon is a band firing on all cylinders and we implore you to spend time figuring out why.
Rapsody is at the top of the hip-hop game. The trials and tribulations she faced in being a woman in a male dominated scene are worth hearing about. You'll be drawn in by the banging beats but beneath it all is an artist who breaks down gender roles, challenges stereotypes, and questions all of your preconcived notions in one of the most artistic ways possible. Rapsody slayed the headlining slot Saturday night at the Knitting Factory and those in attendance know why. Check out last year's album Laila's Wisdom and discover how Rapsody took the stairs and not the elevator to get to where she is today.
We can't get enough of this Portland band. Fronted by Maggie May Morris (also in Genders), and featuring Jenny Logan (Summer Cannibals, Deathlist), on bass, Shannon Rose Steele on guitar and violin (Typhoon), and Pieter Hilton (Typhoon), this band is impressive based on resume alone. Yet Sunbathe goes beyond that and as the band name implies their songs exemplify warm tones, summer sunshine, and lyrical content indicative of the ins and outs of longing and love. During the band's opening set at the Linen Building Maggie admitted that the band had not played together for quite some time which makes sense given all the bandmates other projects and yet the music was tight, succinct, and didn't skip a beat. As we approach the warmer months of spring and summer and you find yourself in need of new spring and summer melodies, bump Sunbathe's self-titled LP to the top of your list.
One of the more visual and creative performances of the festival, Tispur (Sam Carlson), paired with Ballet Idaho for a performance at the Boise Contemporary Theater Thursday evening that offered the best of both worlds. Local to Boise, Sam's music is dream-like folk riddled with fantasy elements that invoke spectral daydreams for those with vivid imaginations. Sam was joined by additional musicians on string instruments to produce a fuller sound and Ballet Idaho served catalyst for a strikingly beautiful performance that literally serves definition for the term "song and dance". For those unfamiliar with Tispur we recommend 2017's album Sleepy Creature as your starting point for what is sure to be an enjoyable adventure.
There's always a slew of impressive bands that make the hop, skip, and jump from Colorado to Boise for Treefort. One that we gleefully stumbled on during a warm-up set at PreFunk was Serpentfoot. Comprised of Jordan Twiggs (guitar and vocals), Philip Shellabarger (bass and vocals), and Michael Ross (drums), Serpentfoot is a raw mix of rock, slack, and surf, all served up medium rare. We were immediately drawn to the guitars and drumming. Despite the scant attendance, the band was dialed up to ten for literally the ten people in the audience. The fact that Serpenfoot gave so much for an audience with a primary objective of drinking IPAs cemented the dudes as certified rockers. Sounding like genre staples Thee Oh Sees and King Gizzard certainly didn't hurt either. When Serpentfoot took the stage Saturday night for their main set at The Olympic some of us ditched prior engagements and made haste. Serpentfoot is one of the rare bands we saw on multiple occasions during Treefort. We're already looking forward to increasing that show count too. For the uninitiated, head over to the band's Bandcamp and check out their excellent 2017 album The Less You Hear the Better it Sounds.
We're at a polarizing place with Russian and U.S. relations right now exacerbated with what seems like a certain demographic of the country pushing a dangerous nationalist agenda. What made Pussy Riot such an incredible performance was not necessarily the music, but the message they conveyed—the need for equality. While the majority of media tends to report on the activities in Russia from a very "us and them" standpoint Pussy Riot does so in a way that humanizes the citizens of the country with an overall message of unity and needs for positive change. Their voice goes beyond blue and red party lines and it's aggravating to see local Sinclair owned and operated media portray it as such. If you saw Pussy Riot Saturday you learned and loved and that's more than I can say about any other concert in recent memory.
A six-piece from Tel Aviv, Israel (Treefort continues to slay it with the geo diversity), Lola Marsh helped make the first night of Treefort unforgettable. With multiple guitarists, vocalists, additional keyboard and percussion, this band is an assault on the senses while still maintaining extremely affable melody and songwriting. Think Angus and Julia Stone with more bandmates and less awkward sexual sibling tension. Pulling from 2016's EP You're Mine and 2017's LP Remember Roses lead vocalist Yael Shoshana Cohen seemed to be imbued with a sort of spiritual energy that permeated throughout El Korah Shrine and the crowd took notice. We'd like to think many festival attendees were like us Wednesday night in that we came to see Cults and left talking about Lola Marsh...
Ealdor Bealu's set Thursday night at The Shredder had everything I wanted from a rock show: psychedelic and wailing guitars, unbending drumming, female and male vocalists that alternate between stoic narration and spectral haunting, and cheap beer. The band treated the crowd to a handful of new tracks that are in the works and we couldn't have been more excited. Ealdor Bealu's 2017 album Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain remains one of our top albums of 2017 and we recommend it to everyone we can while standing awkwardly in line at Winco.
Despite some initial sound issues at the El Korah Shrine these gents lit up the evening with their on-stage vibrancy and full frontal guitar assualt. The exclamation point came when guitarist and vocalist Rob Grote went crowdsurfing guitar in tow during a screaming rendition of "4th and Roebling" that was a complete ruckus. They played again at the Boise All-Ages venue-two shows we're still hungover from.
La Misa Negra delivers an explosion of Latin energy that will leave you feeling like you just walked out of a hoppin’ cantina somewhere in South America. We saw this vibrant ensemble twice and we still want more. La Misa Negra brings a liveliness and vigor in their ability to play multi-instruments and sing in Spanish. Diana Trujillo’s lead vocals combined with a six-piece backing band allowed for a perfect environment of dancing and singing. If you haven't seen this incredible group listen to their latest self-titled album The record will prepare you for their unbelievable raw talent in a live setting.
One of our favorite Portland bands in one of our favorite venues, Genders music sounds as vibrant as the band looked Friday night . The duo of Maggie Morris and Stephen Leisy were joined by friends at the Neurolux to replicate the band's layers of guitars and synth and it was a sonic feast that we felt was the best show on 11th Street the entire night.
Sunday morning was a bit of a bummer as festival attendees woke up to several inches of snow on the ground. As incredulous as that was it was soon followed up by an official Treefort email stating that Princess Nokia's flight would be delayed, putting her performance in jeopardy. Thankfully Treefort veterans and future rock hall of famer Doug Martsch (Built to Spill) was kind enough to switch time slots with Princess Nokia. This enabled her to play later on in the evening as her set was moved from the main stage to the El Korah Shrine at 11:25. If you thought Sunday was the night to get out and about because everyone had to return to work Monday, think again. The line for Princess Nokia damn near rounded the block. The energy before her set was at combustion level critical. Princess Nokia (real name Destiny Frasqueri), matched that intensity. With nothing more than her DJ residing calmly and out sight near the back of the stage, Destiny was all over the stage as her poignant rhymes and articulating back beats boomed across El Korah Shrine for what was to be the venue's last show of the festival. The proud feminist may be known to most for her hit "Tomboy" but 2017's 1992 Deluxe is worthy of any album collection with Nokia's witty and charismatic feminism, the inclusion of '90s cultural refernces and love of hip hop are all on proud display for a boastful 49 minutes that require repeat listens.
This was another unique performance that displayed the dedication to the cultural diversity that Treefort puts forth. Hailing from Arizona but of Afghan descent, Qais plays the Rubab, a lute-based instrument that is centuries old and sounds just as exotic as the name implies. The instrument is traditionally played on the Indian subcontinent and hearing it for the second year in a row at Treefort was a true pleasure. Joining Qais were instrumentalists Shreyas Iyer on tabla, Eric Zang on oud, Sheela Bringi on bansuri, and Brent Kuecker on harmonium. The resulting set was an indulging and stimulating improv session of middle eastern music. With Qais' Rubab and Shreyas' tabla (a pair of drums, one often deeper and wider than the other with a place to hold your hand over the heel to change pitch and tone), setting the cadence, Sheela's bansuri (wooden flute) would flutter in and dance in between it all. Adding additional layers with the harmonium and oud resulted in something so organic that we were genuinely struck with sadness when the performance was over as we wanted more. Tavern of Ruin by Qais is an excellent introduction to his unique catalog and with a new record coming out April 13th you can bet this is just the beginning of our coverage of Qais Essar. Keep it locked!
Despite seeing this Louisiana funk band several times in the last decade we weren't going to miss out on Galactic at the Knitting Factory Friday night. Galactic is awe-inspiring due to their ability to bring a robust and groovy sound that will get the dance party going from start to finish. Their two-piece brass section played to their very core, garnishing the heavy drums and bass with southern infused jazz-like fashion. Just when you think they’re going to complete the night instrumentally, Erica Falls enters the stage and gives a compelling performance that brightens their stage presence even more. We left this show feeling invigorated and energized for the rest of the night’s shenanigans. -Joe Hightower
There’s only one way I can describe Five Alarm Funk’s performance at The Reef Thursday night; an atomic explosion of classic funk on steroids. These guys know how to party. More importantly, they know what it means to deliver the funk. This was the biggest dance party I attended during the festival and by far the most I had danced. I struggled to take pictures of this band as I could not help sway and groove. Every person was uncontrollably dancing. Sweat poured down my face as I made my way through the audience, attempting to shoot this vigorous funk band as they played. With each song, they brought new props and changed their getups. The drummer led the band fearlessly in an attack of funk bombs that left you wondering where all of this nuclear energy derived from. I hope they return to Boise soon. -Joe Hightower
We're starting to think Amir Mohamed el Khalifa is growing fond of Boise and we love it. Not even a year removed from an amazing set at the Neurolux in 2017, Washington D.C. based Oddisee returned for two liquifying sets: the first on the main stage on Friday and the second on Saturday at the Knitting Factory. Perhaps the most epic moment between the two shows was Friday when Oddisee and Good Compny's drummer threw down, vocals vs sticks, an affair that Khalifa had bragged about never losing this tour; true, until Friday night. The end result though? No matter what show you were at you walked away a winner.
Who did you see at Treefort? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know! For more Treefort coverage keep it locked on the AudioHammock podcast! Can't wait to see you in Boise in 2019. Thanks to all the volunteers, the Treefort staff, the performers, and the people for making this such an amazing experience.