The evolution of Boise’s music scene: From festivals to local bands, Boise’s rocking music scene is just getting better

Photo of music records by Niamh Brennan

From its collection of local bands to the incredible visiting tours that play at venues across the Treasure Valley, Boise is known for its vibrant music scene.

For any music fanatic, you can’t help but wonder how the music scene has evolved and transformed over the years. Boise has gone through several different phases regarding its musical community, and local bands have been at the center of many of these changes.

Evan Zurilgen, vocals and bass for local indie rock band “Moon Reservoir,” and David Bridgeman, guitar, keyboard and vocalist for “Moon Reservoir” and “Down Coast” have both been active in the music scene for a number of years and have watched the Boise music scene develop its signature sound. 

Zurilgen highlighted the draw of festivals like Treefort and Flipside Fest that offer a platform for bigger bands to play in Boise. 

“The art and music scene here is pretty vibrant. It’s more vibrant now than it’s ever been,” Zurilgen said. “I think in the past year or so I’ve seen a ton of bands sprouting up and a lot of it is young kids who go to house shows and they’re like, ‘I want to do that.’ It’s cool to see and I think Treefort is a major catalyst in that.”

Companies like Duck Club provide artists with venues and opportunities to share their music with the Treasure Valley. Bridgeman shared his appreciation for the organization and what they do for local and touring artists. 

Both Zurilgen and Bridgeman have noticed an uptick in house shows (an intimate show held in someone’s home) in recent years. Zurligen highlighted organizations like the Trans Collective that create and host their own shows while Bridgeman suggested that musicians take inspiration from the homey vibe of Treefort.

“I think you could say a lot of that [initimate shows] comes from Treefort because Treefort has this homegrown vibe to it,” Bridgeman said. “I went to Kilby Block Party last year and it’s totally different.”

Zurilgen touched on the difference between festivals like Kilby Block Party which focuses on bigger bands, compared to festivals like Flipside and Treefort which are geared towards finding new artists. 

“They had a lot of big names.. Last year they had ‘Pavement’ and ‘The Strokes’ and the ‘Pixies’, whereas a festival like Treefort is a lot more focused on discovery,” Zurilgen said. 

As with so many other aspects of life, the pandemic altered the music scene. Bridgeman explained how due to many venues having to close their doors during lockdown, many companies were itching to host events after life returned to something close to normalcy. 

One of the major draws Boise holds for performers is the diversity in sound. Zurilgen touched on how much he enjoys this aspect of Boise’s music scene.

“The analogy that I like to use is we’re on different boats but we sail the same sea,” Zurilgen said. “So obviously you’ll have your indie people but also there’s a really thriving metal and hardcore scene right now, which I think is interesting … it’s just a whole bunch of different facets of stuff that is culminating in this melting pot.”

Be on the lookout for Moon Reservoir’s upcoming single, releasing in March. 

Josue Hernandez, vocalist for “Los Syringas” is a new addition to the Boise music scene as his band was founded in 2020, however, Hernandez is anything but new to making music.

Although he began making music at a young age, Hernandez didn’t have much exposure to live shows in his youth. Hernandez discussed the importance of house shows for a thriving local music community.

Hernandez noted that after moving to Boise and forming his band, he realized that attending house shows was the most effective way to get a sense of a town’s music scene. 

The willingness of other bands to collaborate, even if they differ in style is something that has stuck out to Hernandez in Boise’s music industry,

“I will say that I feel like our band is a little bit detached from the music scene just because our goals might be a little different than house shows, and then when you have different goals you might not get to hang out with other bands,” Hernandez said. “Every band that we’ve interacted with, they’re always nice, like, they’re always really accepting. Everyone’s willing to work together, even if you don’t match genres.”

Hernandez discussed “Los Syringas” goal to have his band create music that a wide range of people and audiences can enjoy.

“I do know that there are certain genres that are pretty polarizing,” Hernandez said. “I think the band as a whole agrees we want to make music for everyone. Some of us might like polarizing genres, but I think because we all want to be happy with it, it just naturally works for almost any listener.”

Hernandez echoed an earlier sentiment that there has seemed to be an influx of creativity in recent years.

“It’s not necessarily new people, it’s just people willing to do new projects,” Hernandez said. “It’s okay if a band breaks up for sure because sometimes it breaks up and turns into three bands and that’s just better for everyone. I think that boldness to create or rediscover their new musical journey, I think that’s been the biggest change in the music scene since 2020.”

Any music lover can consider themselves lucky to live somewhere like Boise, home to a music community that is full of heart and a passion for creating. The city has had quite the journey over the years and if these band members are any indication, it’s only going to get better from here. 

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