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  • Nathan Yoder

Treefort Turns Ten - A Preview

Treefort, one of the best fests in the Northwest (gotta love a cheesy rhyme), turns ten this year! I (Nathan) attended the inaugural gathering way back in 2012, and have made the trek from Portland to Boise many times since. It's always a party. And though my home city is very music-rich in its own right, there is something so enchanting about the energy and enthusiasm blooming each spring, just a half-day's drive due east.

I actually traveled to the ninth edition of Treefort last September, which had been delayed 18 months due to, you know, everything. Follow this link to read about that weekend - it was a blast. So to shake things up this time around, I've decided to provide a festival preview instead of a review. Maybe this post will convince a few folks to attend for the first time, but more likely, it will serve as a recommendation piece for die-hard Treeforters already planning to show up. Hopefully it's of some use, or at least an entertaining read.

To structure this preview, I've laid it out in the form of my own "must-see" itinerary. Festival planning is always fluid, but you'll definitely catch me a good number of the shows I've highlighted below. And hey, if you are planning to attend any of these, reach out if you wanna meet up before/during/after for a drink or to chat!

But first, a disclaimer: I'll be rolling into Boise late Thursday afternoon, and taking off Sunday morning. Missing OHMME on Wednesday is a bummer for sure, but skipping out on that final day feels like a bigger deal, since so many amazing artists have Sunday sets. I've included a few of those Sunday performances at the end of this piece, because I'm sure most of y'all will still be around.

Okay, let's do this.


I'm pretty excited about the Saddle Creek contingent coming to Treefort this year, and if I make it into town by 4:00 on Thursday, I'll be grabbing my pass and bolting straight to Indigo De Souza's Main Stage set. Her vocals seem to soar over impressively catchy hooks, some distorted by grungy power chords, and others laid bare by minimalist pop structures. De Souza's live performance will absolutely be one to catch if you're able.

But more likely I'll be running late, and Built to Spill's 7:00 Main Stage set will be by first. It would be cool to catch Babehoven at 6:00 in the Linen Building, but if I'm being honest with myself, I probably won't roll out of Portland much before lunch.

What to say about Built to Spill? Well, they're the band I've seen more than any other (I've seriously lost count at this point), so I don't have many new things to say. I am excited to see the new lineup, though, and to possibly catch Doug's cover of Cate Le Bon's Are You with Me Now? if they decide to go for it. Anyway, Built to Spill is a Treefort tradition, so I'm stoked for 'em and you should be too.

As Thursday night rolls on, set conflicts begin to emerge, and festival-goers are going to be faced with some tough decisions. Personally, I'm prioritizing Nubya Garcia's performance at El Korah Shrine, starting up a just few minutes after 9:00. The tenor saxophonist released her stunning debut a little while back, and she continues to be a very active pillar of the London jazz scene. This show is sure to be an early Treefort highlight.

Ryley Walker plays a full band set immediately after Garcia's show ends, but I'll likely take that time to catch my breath before Deafheaven's 11:00 pummeling of the Egyptian Theatre. This is another group I've seen a bunch of times, but never tire of. Current tour setlists indicate that the black metal band is blending old songs with new tunes, so be sure to familiarize yourself with Infinite Granite ahead of time. It's all about that Dream House closer though.

And no joke: there is a band playing opposite Deafheaven featuring kids I used to teach in middle school. Damn. I'm old. I won't embarrass the band by naming them or showing up to their set, but just think it's a cute thing to mention.


Fruit Bats live is always a swell time, and I'm really looking forward to their Treefort debut on the Main Stage at 5:00. Maybe they'll even throw in a Pumpkins cover or two? My wife and I (and our extended Pickathon crew) all share a love for EDJ and co., so I'm pretty sure we'll stay for the whole set. And Caroline Rose is on right afterwards? Looks like Friday will be nice time for a Main Stage camp out.

Ryley Walker plays for a THIRD and final time up at El Korah at 9:00, and his last performance is billed as a noise set! Very excited for this one. Walker is one of the most creative experimental guitarists out there, and if this show is anything like his Pickathon 2015 show, there should be plenty of shrieks and guitar squelches.

Spirit of the Beehive comes on right after Walker at El Korah, and this Saddle Creek band is one that you certainly won't want to miss. Riding high off last year's excellent ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH, they represent the best of inventive, Philly-based indie rock. Poppy but brooding, somehow both groovy and harsh, there's a lot to take in. If you, like me, are fans of ex-Portlanders Strange Ranger, be sure to check out Spirit of the Beehive on Friday.

I might catch the second half of Esther Rose's set at the Basque Center, but will most definitely end up back in the pit at El Korah for Lightning Bolt at 12:20. Man, only at Treefort can you go from indie pop to country twang to noise metal back-to-back-to-back. I haven't seen Lightning Bolt since Pitchfork 2010 (holy shit!), but maaaaaaaan am I ready for another round of this. Might be a rough way to end the night, but I think my body (and eardrums) can stand it. I think.


To be honest, most of my Saturday is wide open, which is actually pretty exciting! I take a lot of music recommendations, myself, so if you've got any "must-see" Saturday acts, let me know.

It's not like there's a shortage of good shows to choose from. I'm just kinda heading into Saturday without any specific agenda. W.I.T.C.H. on the Main Stage at 2:50 should be interesting, and so too will Blushh in the Linen Building at 5:30. Lots of love to the good folks at Literal Gold for all the artist-centered work they're doing in the Portland music scene.

I've had my eye on Coral Grief, the Seattle-based dream pop duo, since their EP release last year. Might try to make it over to Mad Swede Brew Hall at 7:00 for a bit of their set. Same goes for Ducks Ltd. at the Linen Building at 10:00. We'll see though. Oh, and it would be so much fun to sweaty-dance to a few LP Giobbi jams at the Knitting Factory at 10:30. There are just so many good choices! And again, I'm really open to suggestions.

I will say that I'm pretty stoked for the Saturday night hip hop lineup at Reef. AKAI SOLO goes on at 11:10, then Fly Anakin at 12:00, and finally bbymutha at 12:50. Sure it's a late night, but one that'll surely be packed with energy. Plus, I suppose these will be my last shows of the fest and and I gotta go big. It'll be a great way to close out my Treefort 10 experience.


Though I'll be driving home on Treefort Sunday, there are a few artists playing this day who are must-sees for those of you still around. I am so sad to miss Kari Faux's Main Stage set on Sunday afternoon. She'll be performing for a crowd full of haggard festival attendees, so hopefully y'all bring it. Same goes for Deerhoof, who will take the same stage immediately after Faux. I don't know how I've never seen Deerhoof play live, and it's such a bummer that I'll miss them again. Someday I'll catch em. And finally, William Basinski is an ABSOLUTELY MUST SEE on Sunday night. I would be crushed to miss this set if it was not for his make-up date this summer in Portland. I'll see him there.

So there you have it: my rough Treefort 10 itinerary, which will surely change many times in the weeks leading up to the fest. Check out the bolded artists above for yourself, cram some music, and I'll see you in Boise on the 24th!


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