Dim lighting, loud music and the constant boil of conversation compressed the air at the Boise Basque Center, as music lovers trickled into the Treefort 2017 Launch Party on Saturday, Feb. 4. The venue was quickly filled, giving the reception room and bar a feeling of claustrophobic electricity.
As its name suggests, this event served as a precursor to Treefort Music Fest, Boise’s annual music festival that engulfs downtown during Boise State’s spring break. Throughout the last six years of its existence, the festival has proven to be popular with students and community members alike. This was reflected at Saturday’s Launch Party, where everyone gathered in shared excitement around the night’s performing bands: The Shivas, Tyevk, Hillfolk Noir and Foul Weather.
“It’s a bit of a drunken mess,” said Boise community member Heather Prichard, pausing briefly to try to describe Treefort. “But this is probably the best year I’ve seen so far. It’s nice to see that after six years, Treefort’s really getting traction.”
Prichard is a Treefort veteran, having been introduced to the festival four years ago as a volunteer. For those who haven’t yet been, Prichard and other experienced festival-goers shared a few pieces of advice.
“It’s important to know the locations downtown,” said Prichard. “Boise’s small, but it can be kind of tricky to get around during Treefort. Make sure you get everywhere with enough time to get into the venue.”
Community members Jordan Price and Kristin Fitzpatrick also advised knowing your way around, and emphasized the importance of engaging with other people during the festival.
“Definitely hang out on the street,” said Fitzpatrick. “Treefort brings 236 bands to Boise, so almost anyone you meet on the street is going to be in a band.”
This sentiment appears to be accurate, as members of local bands were in no short supply at the launch party. Boise-native musicians could easily be found anywhere from the ATM machine to the main stage.
According to Taylor Hawkins, lead vocalist of local band Western Daughter, Treefort offers a unique experience for those performing in it as well.
“Boise’s all-ages music scene can be lacking,” said Hawkins. “But they open up all these spaces at Treefort, so as a band you can be way more involved in the community, and specifically the younger community. It’s really encouraging and everyone is supportive of each other.”
Rider Soran, senior music business major and member of local band Marshall Poole, emphasized being in a band only made him more excited to see other groups.
“When you’re performing at Treefort, even your own set ends up being kind of secondary to seeing what all your friends are doing,” said Soran. “I also love seeing all the different people they bring in that usually don’t come here.”
Though many Boiseans go to Treefort for the music, the festival also contains several other branches, such as Yogafort, Filmfort, Hackfort and Alefort. When going through the list of events and activities, Fitzpatrick joked the Treefort family would benefit from one more addition—Napfort. In fact, nearly all the Treefort veterans who spoke with The Arbiter made sure to advise newcomers to drink plenty of water and take care of themselves.
Despite the festival’s hectic nature, it continues to grow every year. With such a wide range of opportunities for unique experiences, Wade Ronsse, senior entrepreneurship major and drummer of local band Lounge on Fire advised simply going in with eyes wide-open.
“It’s definitely something everyone finds out for themselves,” Ronsse said. “You don’t know what Treefort is to you until it’s not Treefort anymore.”
Treefort will take place this year from March 22 to March 26. For further information about bands or scheduling, students can visit the Treefort website at treefortmusicfest.com.