I didn’t expect to head to Boise, ID, for an indie music festival. In fact, I hadn’t heard of Treefort – their annual soiree of twang, psychedelic, ska, blues and assorted music styles – until the good folks at Visit Idaho took over Seattle with their ‘Vitamin ID’ campaign. It was then when I first caught wind of this musical funfest – and then learned more after winning festival tickets through their citywide takeover. Treeforts and Ziplines sounded more about gliding across tall treetop canopies than gettin’ down with singer-songwriters and bearded locals. Boy was I wrong! Boise wrapped up their fifth Treefort Festival in March – and I’m here to proclaim I’ll be back for the 6th!
The idea sounded genius to me: Catch jammin’ west coast bands as they’re heading home from Austin’s SXSW and knit them into a community bursting at the seams with character, culture and quirky art. Wrap up the community beat by having something for everyone — from kids in cowboy boots to grey-hairs (I consider myself somewhere in-between). Pack every bar or venue within the downtown core to house band after band for five consecutive days of rhythmic joy. Go beyond music and create “forts” around every corner.
Music is certainly the cornerstone of Treefort Fest. From headliner performer Charles Bradley’s sexy-music-biographer style, to Lounge On Fire‘s ‘Freak Funk’, the city pulsed with music and energy for five consecutive days. Soulful Esme Patterson‘s dreamy rock waxed poetic with up-and-commer Evaleen on big and small stages, while Deathsong and Battlehooch had more of a whiplash effect from heavy horns and hair-thrashing. I wish I could’ve cloned myself solely for the music opportunities at Treefort, as there just weren’t enough Ann’s to cover all I wanted to hear.
Alefort was right up my alley with dozens of breweries showcasing multiple brews with a range from the hoppiest of IPAs to the darkest of stouts. What’s cool? They come from far and wide and pair perfectly with Foodfort‘s offerings. Bear Island Brewing‘s Jalapeno Pale Ale was a spot-on compliment to local food hotspot Fork‘s spicy carnitas. Woodland Empire‘s Sorrel Brew went down easy with State and Lemp‘s mind-blowing braised pork belliy with nettle and watercress. Modern Hotel‘s hardy lentils and sausage stood up to New Belgium‘s thirst-quenching dubble. Truth be told, if Foodfort were a stand-alone festival, it’d be one worthy of the trip alone!
Into gadgets? Hackfort might be up your alley – as it was mine. With Boise’s world-class tech community and TED-talk-worthy panelists, the tech creativity was flowing! Special props for forward-thinking panelists discussing VR in applications other than gaming – building communities virtually. As with the panelists at Alefort and Foodfort going beyond fork and cup, Hackfort’s speakers brought depth beyond demoing games by inspiring ideas and getting a community of creative juices flowing.
Although not official forts, I dug the pet-friendly approach to Boise (might we call this Pupfort?) and family-friendly happenings throughout the community in an obvious embracing of a year-round Kidfort. And though I headed out of town prior to the start of Sunday Brunchfort, I definitely felt a kinship with my beer-drinking Alefort peeps at the Peefort. 😉
Thinking of grabbing your head-banging, fork-tapping, beer-drinking friends and heading to Treefort to join me in ’17? A few tips on the city (beyond the festival) are on the blog here.