Treefort Music Fest Day 3
Le Fleur, Typhoon, Built to Spill, and More
I 2000 t has come to my attention that the organizer “Eric” the bands keep thanking during the last few days of the Treefort Music Festival is none other than Eric Gilbert of Boise’s own Finn Riggins. This combined with the fact that I haven’t seen a single corporate advertisement confirms this festival’s true grassroots origin; a sort of festival for the bands by the bands. It’s pointless to try to describe what little I know of the complex network of people that brought us this festival, so I’ll settle for describing the glorious results.
In the morning there was a cool Treefort discussion panel on music journalism, and afterwards I headed over to the Main Stage area -- an odd series of white tarpaulin walls enclosing a huge back parking lot and alley -- to catch a glimpse of the esteemed In the Shadow of the Mountain, an abstract and meticulous rock band from Boise itself. Their heavy and spacious sound encircles me with modulating ambience and jingling ephemera. Their song “Hey, Hey” is a shoegazey anthem of upbeat Band of Horses sounding vocals buried in layers of guitars filtered through a series of delays, wah pedals, and other effects which create a dense wall of noisy acoustics.
I stay afterwards for Tartufi, the accomplished duo comprised of Lynne Angel and Brian Gorman, now touring with a bassist, from San Francisco seen touring the NW and the nation constantly, accreting a big fan base in the process. With songs like “Fear of Tall Giraffes, Fear of Some Birds, their music shifts between familiar pop and avant-garde experimentation resulting in a broad and cacophonous sound. Angel’s voice is velvety and strangely androgynous which combines with the minor chords and down-tuned guitars to establish a mood of clouded eerie lucidity, kind of like floating underwater and in outer space at the same time. Their final song is a barely recognizable rendition of an old hymn, deconstructed and reassembled with a potent metal inspired make-over. Their fine new EP The Butterless Man is available on disc and vinyl now.
Next in line was Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, a reverberating, beat-driven five piece project from Denver. The band was playing a sunny afternoon set at the main stage. Their music has a slow and groovy new-wave revival element, in which understated vocals wrap around echoing guitars. The audience bobs its head pensively to the tunes, with one song “Break the Same” having the concert suddenly feeling like the final sequence of some artsy 80’s action movie. In all the heaviness and distortion mixed with upbeat poppy vocals has me thinking of Joy Division and their creative treatment of traditional rock music.
In the Linen Building is the post-rock masterpiece known as Red Hands Black Feet, surprisingly young looking for the magnitude of rock they produce. Their set starts out slow and crescendos into a fearless and grandiose entity which encircles the venue and grips the audience by the shoulders shaking them ferociously. Their song structures are deeply invested in gradually mounting layers of intensity which build up energy in the music and the crowd. This comes to a head when during an encore song the packed venue breaks out into moshing, crowd surfing, and zealous hell-raising of all types. The band seems to be having as good of a time as they fill the room with their visionary instrumental-rock righteousness.
Double-stepping over to Neurolux to catch the beginning of Le Fleur was a great decision, since their performance was a nice reprise from the intensity of Red Hands Black Feet. The Boise natives’ music reflects the Idaho landscape; heterogenous yet isolated, beautiful yet stark, full of life and still ever-conscious of death. They add a progressive element to a vague 90’s punk sound in order to distinguish their own brand of juicy jazzy rock. A staple of the greater Boise-NW indie scene, Le Fleur never fails to get heads banging and bodies moving in their hometown or on tour in Oregon and beyond.
Unfortunately I parted from this favorite semi-local band of mine to see Portland’s hometown heroes Typhoon light up the main stage. With only eight performers down from 12, without the second violinist, cellist, and third horn player, they still brought an outstanding performance. Playing an eclectic mix of old and new music, they reaffirmed their multi-instrumental prowess as the NW’s top classically influenced new-rock band. As always, lead singer Kyle Morton raises the bar for rock bands with application of advanced theory, intricate poetics within the lyrics, and just rock solid songwriting.
Making my way up front for Typhoon was critical since people streamed in as soon they finished their set. The illustrious Built to Spill began a blues jam sound-check then proceeded to confidently serenade an awaiting audience of locals and long-time fans. They played selection of their finest hits like “Stab,” “Joyride,” “Goin’ Against Your Mind,” and “Carry the Zero,” making lots of room to elaborate on the classics, playing so passionately on the latter that Doug breaks a string. The folks up front are essentially divided into shoegazers and headbangers, some swaying or bobbing, others crowd-surfing two at a time. This is the beauty of Built to Spill’s music; it is at once intense shredding of three guitars and the calming voice of Doug Martsch—the undisputed grandfather of this humble scene.
In awe, we stumble to the Linen Building where there is a healthy crowd forming in front of Shades, still checking their five synthesizers, one mic, guitar and bass. The singer casually pops on his tiger mask and they immediately begin to get the crowd moving to and fro. Their music is an enticing casserole of electronic music, topped with a delicious chillwave sauce and broiled under a midsummer sun. They use a single monotonous synth beat in a few of their songs allowing for a minimal melody to come over loud and clear to the audience, resulting in a total glo-fi hoedown.
It was approaching midnight and we had poured a lot of energy into rocking out at the previous nine shows, but Boise natives Teens had returned from a tour to play Red Room. If there is a show to miss at Treefort, this is not the one. After chatting up locals in line for 20 minutes waiting for capacity to equalize, we come across what looks more like a rave than a show. The stage is engulfed in people dancing, the band barely visible between the twisting and the shouting. Their infectious brand of garage rock is made for good times. Chatting later with one of the members I learn that they’re not allowed in Neurolux, and Linen Building, and that this show would have them banned from red Room too. He seemed unconcerned though, and for good reason since the folks who were there last night will probably go see them again even if it’s at someone's lame basement party.
Saturday of Treefort Music Fest delivered what it promised: great bands of all sizes coming together to play some shows for a crowd of Northwesterners in the hip hopping town of Boise, Idaho. I can’t wait to see what the final day has in store for us.