Boise, Idaho is home to trees, Boise State University, and yes, there are potatoes. Nestled in the Treasure Valley amidst the Rocky Mountains, Boise is an attractive place for families and companies with its scenic views, easy access to the great outdoors and a relatively low cost of living. If you’ve ever picked up an outdoor magazine or read one of the million “Best Places To Live In the USA” articles, you’ve probably read something along those lines before. One thing you may not know about Boise, however, is that it is home to a flourishing music scene that is on the cusp of bursting over, and the world needs to know.
When people think of music in the Northwest United States, Seattle and Portland instantly come to mind. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Modest Mouse and Band of Horses are just a few bands to emerge from Seattle, while Portland is the birthplace of The Dandy Warhols, Sleater-Kinney and The Shins, among others.
Boise is no stranger to having bands call it their home – indie-rockers Built to Spill formed there in 1992, and dream-pop purveyor Youth Lagoon is a native as well. More and more bands are starting to emerge as Boise has unshackled itself from the perception of being one of the aforementioned town’s little brothers; this is in no small part due to the Treefort Music Festival.
Treefort debuted in March 2012, the brainchild of Finn Riggins keyboard player/vocalist Eric Gilbert and Lori Shandro, who together form the Duck Club music promotion/production company. Taking inspiration from other festivals such as SXSW and CMJ, the pair wanted to create a festival featuring local, national and international touring acts.
The inaugural Treefort featured Of Montreal and Built to Spill as headliners, and as the festival has grown, artists such as Dan Deacon, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Run the Jewels and The Joy Formidable have graced the stage in Boise. In addition to music, Treefort is a haven for film, creative writing and even yoga with extensions FilmFort, StoryFort and YogaFort. It also features Alefort, a boon for beer buffs, Hackfort – a tech-centric event featuring classes and presentations – and 2015 will see the first ever ComedyFort, providing a showcase of local comedic talent and well known performers alike. Everyone in the community gets involved; volunteers man the ticket booths and direct concertgoers to their desired destinations throughout downtown Boise. Perhaps the best part about the festival is the fact that while various venues around town participate by hosting bands, and it sometimes gets a little crowded, even the main stage concerts feel like an intimate house show.
Treefort has shown that you don’t have to be a major city to host a main event. And while top tier acts are starting to flock to the festival, those that benefit the most are fans, the people of Boise and artists that make it their home.