For the last two years I’ve been volunteering at Treefort so that I can get a $30 festival-pass, and for the last two years, honestly, volunteering has been one of the greatest things about the festival! You get to assist in a wide variety of tasks while meeting a lot of really cool people that are obsessed with music, having fun, art, food, beer, volunteering and fellow festivalgoers. Treefort is one of the only music festivals that doesn’t pride themselves strictly on having the “most popular” lineup. They like to find up-and-coming musicians that are not super prevalent to most of society, however, the talent they display is extremely artistic—migrating to Boise from all areas of the musical world. Another aspect that sets it apart is that Treefort is not solely a weekend event, but a full-time-festi that runs from Wednesday through Sunday, attracting a mostly-local crowd but also those from comparable cities like Portland, Boulder and Missoula. I also really relish their employment of local bars and venues rather than setting up in a completely random field somewhere like many festivals most often do.
Alefort, where numerous local and regional breweries get together to trade beer tastings for tokens purchased from the venue, occurred all day Saturday and Sunday. I woke up unseemly early (my body-clock likes to wake me up at 7:00am despite how late I went to bed), and was ready to get going. I texted my TF-buddies to meet downtown underneath the Alefort tent around 11:00am. Festivities were just picking up and we arrived without having to wait in any lines. Saturday was a gorgeous day and we could finally play in the sun without having to holster a jacket. Towards the end of the day (we were probably there for 5+ hours), the volunteer beer-pourers started becoming progressively more lax on taking tokens from us. By closing, we probably had around 23 beers each, mind you they were taster-sized glasses. At one point, we actually got cut off from frequenting a brewery, and the bartender got his pouring privileges pulled as he was giving us too many free drinks and tit-tats.
For my volunteer shifts this year I decided to select a wide array of opposite activities. On Wednesday night, I worked at the admission door at El Korah Shrine checking wristbands and taking payments for tickets. We were at max-capacity almost the entire time, and it was hilarious to see all the drunk-in-publics getting stoked as we slowly let them trickle into the venue. We were cheering and high-fiving people as we let them in. One guy gave me a $10 tip, which the event manager said was absolutely unheard of in the history of Treefort! My final shift was at Kidfort, where we got to watch the merchandise table and the hysterical activities going on under the Kid’s tent. Witnessing “The Noise Guy,” was by far one of the weirdest yet funniest things I’ve ever seen. Basically, a man got on stage with symbols, other noise-making utensils, a book about burps and farts, and took the kids through an hour act of the weirdest performance known to man. The kiddos’ belly-laughter never ceased during the entire act, after all, what 4-year-old doesn’t find hilarity in a full-grown-man making fart noises all over a public stage? The Boise School of Rock also exhibited several incredible teenage rock-band performances, which made me wish there was an extra-curricular like this where I was growing up!
Several of the venues sold out this year for the bigger artists such as Magic Sword, Open Mike Eagle, and STRFKR. The Mainstage never had a line, so it was really the place to be. This year I was most excited about seeing Lizzo because I’ve been listening to a podcast, “on being,” that Lizzo does the interlude-music for. My favorite shows were: Ghost b2b Magic Sword at El Korah Shrine; The Seshen because of the lead singer’s soulful voice, wild hair and stage presence; the Infamous String Dusters and their ability to draw a full house of tie-dye-wearing, barefoot-dancing, hippie-revivalists; Kate Tempest with her powerful spoken-word on love and equality, and watching as the entire audience around me was moved to sobbing tears of joy and understanding; and closing out the show with STRFKR on Sunday night with the most consecutive crowd surfers I’ve ever witnessed during a concert.
I loved how they set up a colorful food-truck-row, “Tastes of Treefort,” where people bustle back and forth deciding on goodies to consume. We tested out Gyro Shack, Poutine Fries, Rice Works, and of course sampled the fine-eats within the Alefort tent. There were cool “thrift-shop” booths offering funky jean jackets, Hawaiian shirts, wigs and fur hats for $5/a pop. Some ladies were giving away professional calligraphy-letter art with people’s names or chosen sayings. This central hub of Treefort was alive and bustling all weekend with flamboyant outfits, beers overfloweth, smiling faces, free-stuff galore, and great music. When the tents were taken down and the roads were clear on our drive to work Monday morning, we felt a weird emptiness inside: PCD—Post Concert Depression.
Overall I must congratulate the people running Treefort on an absolutely immaculate production this year! Though last year was amazing, they have come leaps and bounds just within the last 365 days. Their stage design was absolutely gorgeous, utilizing reclaimed barn-wood, pop-up artist/graffiti locations, birch branches, pops of bright neon colors, and live cherry blossoms. They had a colossal collection of merchandise with hues and prints reminiscent of 90s cartoons, like the Rugrats. They shed light on some up-and-coming/unknown talents, as well as hosting several huge names in the music industry. Their food and beer selection was absolutely delectable with all the restaurant contestants serving only their finest array of locally grown flavors and combinations. And the people—OH, the people of Treefort—every new friend I encountered was just simply MAGNIFICENT!!