By the time Treefort Music Fest rolls around March 21-25 in Downtown Boise, most festivalgoers will have a good idea of noteworthy performers they’re supposed to go see.
Neo-hippies will dance to New Orleans funk from Galactic (9:15 p.m. Thursday, Knitting Factory). Boise scenesters will wave their lightsabers with cloaked superheroes Magic Sword (10:45 p.m. Friday, Knitting Factory). Your crazy uncle will groove to George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic (8:30 p.m. Friday, Main Stage). Happy headbangers will wave miles of cumulative hair with Andrew W.K. (8:30 p.m. Saturday, Main Stage). And feminist-punk fans will stand slackjawed at the surreal prospect of Russia’s Pussy Riot visiting Idaho (11:25 p.m. Saturday, El Korah Shrine).
But what we’ve learned over six years is that the most gratifying part of Treefort isn’t always the familiar bands. It’s the adrenaline rush of an unexpected find. Of eagerly falling in love with lesser-known musicians. Then bragging about it to all your friends afterward.
That’s where Eric Gilbert comes in.
Gilbert, Treefort’s festival director and talent buyer, has unique insight into the 462 acts rocking Boise for five days. He’s your ticket to discovery. Your shovel for digging deeper.
In honor of Treefort’s seventh year, Gilbert has highlighted seven acts on each day of Treefort — 35 in total — that are under-the-radar to varying degrees. He’s also provided short descriptions for us. The following is a list of artists that might be unknown to many festivalgoers, Gilbert explains, “but come highly recommended.”
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21
Cones — 8 p.m., El Korah Shrine, 1118 W. Idaho St.
“This is a new band featuring Jonathan and Michael Rosen, who came through last year in Eleanor Friedberger’s backing band. Their first few singles, available now via Dangerbird Records, give an exciting glimpse into the collaboration, highlighting Jonathan’s penchant for pop music and Michael’s skills with lush arrangements and soundscapes.”
Madeline Kenney — 9:15, The Olympic, 1009 W. Main St.
“Oakland-dwelling Seattle transplant who makes twang-hazy dream pop. Her debut album was produced by Chaz Bear (toro y moi) and released on his label, Company Records.”
Zee Will — 9:50 p.m., Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St.
“Live band hip-hop from Fresno. He and his band blew away a lot of our crew at last year’s Treefort and we’re excited to have him back.”
Fruit & Flowers — 10 p.m., Boise All-ages Movement Project (in the former Urban Outfitters space at 328 S. 8th St. in BoDo)
“NYC goth-pop/art-punk quartet recently named one of New York City’s hardest-working bands. They caught the ear of the Treefort artist committee early on with their catchy indie-rock/post-punk tunes.”
Cults — 11:15 p.m., El Korah Shrine, 1118 W. Idaho St.
“Manhattan-based dream pop headlining El Korah Shrine to help kick off the festival. Their new album, ‘Offering,’ came out in October on Sinderlyn Records. I have been addicted to the title track in particular, and more listens to the whole record continues to reveal a lot to love.”
The Russ Liquid Test — midnight, Reef, 105 S. 6th St.
“For fans of funk, jam and live electronic music. From the band’s bio: ‘The Russ Liquid Test fuses the raw vitality of classic funk and the inventive sound design of electronic production. Songwriter/producer and renowned brass specialist Russell Scott heads up the New Orleans-based band.’ ”
Big White — 12:30 a.m., The Olympic, 1009 W. Main St.
“New wave/post-punk from Sydney, Australia, back for their second Treefort. New record ‘Street Talk’ out soon via Spunk/Modern Sky. I caught their short set on Radio Boise’s Radioland Stage two years ago when they were here. Scratched my Talking Heads/New Order itch real well. Looking forward to having them back.”
THURSDAY, MARCH 22
Mirah featuring Jherek Bischoff & the Boise Philharmonic String Quartet — 9:20 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, 950 W. State St.
“Mirah has been heralded in the indie-folk/pop scene since her time in the Olympia DIY scene in the early 2000s with records out on K and Kill Rock Stars. She released an album last year featuring string arrangements by acclaimed polymath/multi-instrumentalist Jherek Bischoff on several of her tunes. The Boise Philharmonic String Quartet are going to help bring those to life for Treeforters this year at this special one-night only show.”
Lido Pimienta — 10 p.m., Boise Contemporary Theater, 854 W. Fulton St. (Also 1:30 p.m. Friday, Owyhee’s Storyfort at 1109 W. Main St., and 4:45 p.m. Friday, Main Stage, 12th and Grove streets)
“Toronto-based, Colombian-born interdisciplinary musician and artist-curator. Polaris Prize 2017 winner. She’ll do an intimate show at BCT on Thursday and then open the Main Stage on Friday. She will also be speaking at Storyfort on Friday on a panel discussion titled ‘Art, Identity, and Voice.’ Along with some other Treefort scouts, I caught an amazing set of hers at Halifax Pop Explosion last fall. We’re excited to introduce Boise to her, and vice-versa.”
Hobosexual — 11:30 p.m., Hannah’s, 621 W. Main St. (Also 9:30 p.m. Friday, The Shredder, 430 S. 10th St.)
“Hobosexual have brought their heavy rock to Treefort before, but now in the wake of their killer new album “Monolith,” they will be back for two shows with the five-piece version of the band. Mike McCready of Pearl Jam is a fan.”
Twin Peaks — 11:45 p.m., El Korah Shrine, 1118 W. Idaho St. (Also 5:50 p.m. Friday, Main Stage, 12th and Grove streets)
“Good timin’ rock ‘n’ roll from Chicago. Known for their wild live shows and wide range of rock songwriting, everyone from young punks to their classic rockin’ parents will find something to love here.”
Titus Andronicus — 12:15 a.m., Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St.
“New album ‘A Productive Cough’ came out on March 2 on Merge Records. Known for their raucous live shows, lyric-heavy song-writing of Patrick Stickles, and raw passion for the music they play and the communities they are a part of, Titus Andronicus couldn’t be a better fit for Treefort. We’re excited for them to play the festival this year in the wake of their great new record. Dig on their new tune “Above the Bodega (Local Business).”
Kelly Lee Owens — 12:30 a.m., Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St.
“Electronic producer from London, United Kingdom. Her record from last year was a big hit amongst the Treefort artist committee. Recently, Bjork featured her on a mix she shared with her fans, which makes good sense as Kelly Lee Owens’ avant-pop/techno/pop/minimalist electronic music is definitely something fans of Bjork will take to.”
Quinn Deveaux — 12:30 a.m., Pengilly’s Saloon, 513 W. Main St. (Also 10:30 p.m. Friday, Basque Center, 601 W. Grove St.)
“First saw Quinn Deveaux at Doe Bay Festival last year. He’s a versatile songwriter/soul and blues/rock ’n’ roller. Doug Martsch is also a fan. His modern blues is a good home for fans of early rock ’n’ roll.”
FRIDAY, MARCH 23
Qais Essar — 6 p.m., Boise Contemporary Theater, 854 W. Fulton St.
“From his bio: ‘Qais Essar is a contemporary Afghan composer, instrumentalist and producer who channels his melodic designs through the rabab, a 2,500-year-old instrument from Afghanistan.’ Excited to have these guys back again this year. Playing BCT on Friday and appearing at Yogafort as well.”
Matthew Dear — 9:30 p.m. Friday, Knitting Factory, 416 S. 9th St. (Also DJ set at 12:30 a.m. Friday, Capital City Event Center, 622 W. Idaho St.)
‘Depending on who you ask,’ his bio says, ‘Matthew Dear is a DJ, a dance-music producer, an experimental pop artist, a bandleader.’ Co-founder of Ghostly International. I’ve been a longtime fan of his work — his influence runs deep across genres. Excited that we get to see a couple of different sides of him with his live set earlier on Friday playing with Magic Sword at Knitting Factory and then an intimate DJ set afterparty in one of our new venues, the two dance rooms upstairs at the Adelmann Building.”
The Regrettes — 11 p.m., Boise All-ages Movement Project, 328 S. 8th St.
“Young punk/rock/pop band making waves with a great record out on Warner Bros. From their official bio: ‘Writing songs that proudly bear a brazen and unabashed attitude in the vein of acts Courtney Barnett or Karen O – with a pop aesthetic reminiscent of 50’s and 60’s acts a la the Temptations or Buddy Holly – the LA based four piece create infectious, punk driven tracks.’ Very excited to host their first show in Boise. Rumor has it they may be also appearing at the March For Our Lives on Saturday morning.
U.S. Girls — 11 p.m., Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St.
“Killer new record on 4AD! I’ve loved the many iterations of U.S. Girls that Meg Remy has displayed over the last several years, but this one featuring a six-piece band is definitely my favorite. Fellow Talking Heads fans will also not want to miss this. The whole “In a Poem Unlimited” record is great. Highly recommended.”
Timmy the Teeth — 11:20 p.m., The Olympic, 1009 W. Main St. (Also 8 p.m. Saturday, Pengilly’s, 513 W. Main St.)
“I saw him open for BJ Barham (American Aquarium) solo last year at The Olympic. Instantly loved his songs and excited to have him at Treefort with a full band. Playing two shows. Friday night at The Olympic will be with full band, Saturday night at Pengilly’s will be solo or a modified version of band. Country music fans might find a home here.
Starcrawler — 11:30 p.m., The Shredder, 430 S. 10th St.
“This quote from Los Angeles Times sums them up nicely: ‘Starcrawler, a hard-swinging stoner-metal quartet with a taste for ’70s glam and dazed SoCal sleaze, has a Ryan Adams-produced debut and the ears of the whole town’s rock scene on edge.’ They are only playing once at Treefort — a rare opportunity to catch this band on the rise in an intimate space before they tour with Foo Fighters this summer. I recommend arriving early. Playing in between locals Marshall Poole and Treefort veterans Thunderpussy, I see this show being a hot ticket.”
Antibalas — 11:45 p.m., El Korah Shrine, 1118 W. Idaho St. (Also 5:35 p.m. Saturday, Main Stage)
“From Wikipedia: ‘Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band that is modeled after Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 band and Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive Orchestra.’ They put out a great record last fall. Check out the song “Gold Rush.” There are two opportunities to catch them. Might need two different pairs of dancing shoes to keep those feet fresh after their extended set Friday night.”
SATURDAY, MARCH 24
Low Cut Connie — 4:20 p.m. Saturday, Main Stage, 12th and Grove streets. (Also midnight Sunday, The Olympic, 1009 W. Main St.
“Classic piano-driven rock ’n’ roll from Philly. I can’t recommend this band enough, and you get two chances. High-energy live show in the spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis and other rock ’n’ roll piano legends. Dive into their records — lots to love.”
Haley Heynderickx — 5:30 p.m. Saturday, El Korah Shrine, 1118 W. Idaho St.
“Her debut LP ‘I Need To Start A Garden’ just came out on March 2 on Mama Bird Recording Co. and is getting a lot of positive attention right now from critics. Great record, and I’m excited for her Treefort debut. Start your pre-festival listening with her song “Oom Sha La La.” It’s been on constant repeat in my world.”
Partner — 7 p.m., Main Stage, 12th and Grove streets
“We saw this band at Halifax Pop Explosion in October. Fun shreddery guitar band. Released a great record last year produced by Chris Shaw (Ween, Weezer, and more) called “Everybody Knows” that hit a lot of end-of-year best-of lists. Really looking forward to introducing this band to the Treefort Main Stage crowd on Saturday evening right before Andrew W.K.”
Hear The Taste — 8 p.m. Saturday, The District, 219 N. 10th St.
“Brand new local project with a really interesting record they released on Bandcamp back in January and is free for download. Making their live debut at Treefort. A lot of potential with this band and curious to see how the live show comes together.”
Rapsody — 10:45 p.m., Knitting Factory, 416 S. 9th St.
“Kendrick Lamar collaborator. Received a couple of Grammy nominations this year for her incredible album ‘Laila’s Wisdom.’ First time to Boise, she headlines the Knitting Factory on Saturday night with a stacked hip-hop bill also featuring Oddisee & Good Compny, Kweku Collins, Myke Bogan and several of Boise’s best.”
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya — 11:30 p.m., Boise All-ages Movement Project, 328 S. 8th St. (Also 10:40 p.m. Sunday, Neurolux)
“I see a lot of shows. His show at Neurolux last September opening for Vagabon was one of, if not the best, I saw all year. Incredible band — really interesting fusion of math rock/hip-hop/funk/punk. Wild stuff. Two opportunities to catch him. Listen to his record “Drool” with headphones. So many layers to this project. May be the last time to catch him in such small places.”
Kinski — 12:45 a.m. Saturday, Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St.
“Celebrating 20 years as a band this year. Closing out a night of Kill Rock Stars acts at Linen Building on Saturday night. One of the best sets I caught at Upstream Music Festival in Seattle last year. Have toured with Tool and recorded a split with Acid Mothers Temple and exist in the heavy psych-rock realm somewhere in between.”
SUNDAY, MARCH 25
Mobley — 3 p.m. Sunday, Boise All-Ages Movement Project, 328 S. 8th St. (Also 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Reef, 105 S. 6th St.)
“Multi-instrumentalist, future-pop/post-genre artist from Austin. He’s playing a couple of times so there’s no excuse — don’t miss Mobley. He used to have a band but now has figured out how to do it all himself. His Audiotree session on YouTube is a great introduction and glimpse into his music and thought behind it.”
Field Medic — 3:45 p.m., Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St. (Also 11 p.m. Saturday, The District, 219 N. 10th St.)
“Lo-fi/DIY/freak folk from the Bay Area. I fell in love with his record ‘Songs From The Sunroom’ that came out last year on Run For Cover Records. One of the sets I’m most excited about. Check out his song ‘Powerful Love’ to get you started.”
Dark Swallows — 5 p.m., El Korah Shrine, 1118 W. Idaho St.
“Dark Swallows have been a slow burn in the local scene over the last few years. Rising from the wake of local bands like Le Fleur, Juntura and The Universal, Dark Swallows have continued at a nice even pace to become one of Boise’s best. The record they released last fall, simply titled ‘II’ is very, very good. Highly recommend it. Their early set at Shrine on Sunday to opens up a stacked lineup not to miss.”
Connan Mockasin — 6 p.m., Main Stage, 12th and Grove streets. (Also 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St.)
“Psychedelic pop musician from Te Awanga, New Zealand. His appearances are rare, in general, and the fact he’s coming to Treefort is a big deal for fans of his world. If you’ve not yet visited his world, prepare to get freaky. Catch him in the intimate confines of Neurolux for a taste of his legendary, psych-funk, sweaty-dance parties, or groove out on the Main Stage.”
Jamila Woods — 7:30 p.m., Main Stage, 12th and Grove streets
“American soul singer, songwriter and poet. She has been on the rise the last couple of years, associated with Chance The Rapper and others from the Chicago scene. Great crossover into the literary world too. Check out her recent NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.”
Princess Nokia — 9 p.m., Main Stage, 12th and Grove streets
“There’s a lot of buzz around her appearance this year, especially amongst the 20-somethings. Get on the boat; this is a voice for the moment. A rapper and feminist, she cofounded the Smart Girl Club. This is the dance party you need. An online mini-documentary by The Fader is a good primer study for the unfamiliar.”
Land of Talk — 10:15 p.m., El Korah Shrine, 1118 W. Idaho St.
“Canadian indie-rock band from Montreal. Released an incredible record, ‘Life After Youth,’ last year after several years since her last record. She’ll be playing right before Built To Spill. Only one chance to catch her. Study up, don’t miss this. The whole record is great, but ‘This Time’ is a good place to start.”
Treefort Music Fest
When: March 21-25
Where: Downtown Boise. Main Stage is at 12th and Grove streets
Tickets: Festivalwide passes cost $195 (plus fees) or $109 if you’re under 21. Single-day festivalwide passes run from $65 to $105 (plus fees). Main Stage single-day passes cost $30 to $50 (plus fees) in advance, and will be available at the gate. When capacity allows, individual venues will sell entry passes for prices ranging from $10 to $25.
More info: treefortmusicfest.com.