Words & Deeds

Michael Deeds: Ariana Grande keeps mainstream pop alive in Boise

Michael Deeds
Michael Deeds

With Treefort Music Fest invading Downtown last week, it felt like indie music and hipster culture had applied for permanent residence in Boise.

Not exactly.

Only hours after the festival ended, a mainstream pop singer who draws the equivalent of an entire day of Treefort fans to a single concert was announced at Taco Bell Arena: Ariana Grande.

The 21-year-old ex-Nickelodeon actress will headline Sept. 2 with opener Prince Royce. Assuming you’re above high-school age, let me clue you in to the significance of this: It’s a big deal. And not just because Grande and her outstanding ponytail have torched the pop charts recently with singles such as “The Way,” “Problem,” “Break Free” and “Love Me Harder.”

The gifted vocalist, who had more Top 10 hits in 2014 than anybody else, is culturally significant for Idaho. Why? Because arena-wise, we don’t draw a whole lot of female pop stars. Britney Spears? Christina Aguilera? Never made it here. Lady Gaga? Probably never even heard of Idaho. Beyonce? Yeah, she visited eight years ago — and the show drew a pedestrian (for her) 4,100 fans. Could you imagine, say, Nicki Minaj ever performing here? (Grande collaborated with Minaj and Jessie J on the fun hit “Bang Bang.”) Nope, me neither.

Grande is different. She’s one of the acts highlighted in a Billboard article this week about newer artists making the jump to arenas. She’s “averaging more than $560,000 per night at the box office on her current tour,” Billboard reported, “with an audience of nearly 12,000 per show.”

The Boise crowd won’t be that big. But it will be a young audience. Plenty of parents will attend with kids — and possibly hiss at dropping 40 bucks for glow-in-the-dark “Honeymoon Tour” cat ears at the show. (Everybody will be wearing cat ears.) Tickets to the Grande concert go on sale at 10 a.m. April 4. Most will cost $69.50 (plus fees), but other seats are priced as low as $29.50.

Enjoy it, Dad. This promises to be a well-rehearsed, pyro-powered pop extravaganza. At least Grande is a standout singer. She isn’t as popular as Katy Perry, whose massive Taco Bell Arena concert in 2011 was a rare exception to Boise’s unspoken moratorium on female pop. But Grande’s voice could blow Perry right off that giant lion she rode at this year’s Super Bowl.


Speaking of mainstream, the sixth annual Boise Music Festival has finalized its main-stage entertainment: Rob Thomas, Redfoo (of LMFAO), Nick Jonas, Gloriana, Shaggy and The Ting Tings.

Fans can win tickets to the June 27 festival at Expo Idaho by listening to Townsquare Media-operated radio stations. But charging for admission feels like a larger priority this year. At the moment, general-admission tickets cost $30, but the price goes up to $40 in May and $50 in June. So buy now if you’re interested — or turn on the radio and pay attention. More information: BoiseMusicFestival.com.


A quick Treefort postmortem:

• In its fourth year, Treefort attracted more people than ever. It felt like more out-of-towners attended. And it felt like they showed up for the entire five days, which featured 430 bands and several well-attended microforts about beer, film, yoga and more.

• Treefort never felt


big. Sure, two or three clubs had a line out the door on most evenings. But the venues at capacity changed from night to night, and crowds seemed well-dispersed throughout Downtown Boise. “We still felt like it was manageable on our end,” festival director Eric Gilbert says.

• No offense to dance-punk band !!!, but Treefort’s biggest exclamation point came at the end of

Built To Spill’s

hometown-pride-saturated set. The veteran Boise indie-rock band climaxed with a cranium-crushing “Carry the Zero,” sending the guitar-intoxicated audience floating into the star-filled sky. Built To Spill needs to headline the Treefort main stage on Friday every year. Period. Exclamation point.

• Start working on your beard. Treefort will return in 2016. “There’s definitely going to be a next year,” Gilbert says.


Concert notes: Michael Franti & Spearhead is headed to the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Outlaw Field on Aug. 4. ... Rumor has it that Alabama Shakes could be headed there, too. ... ... Heavy metal fans will be “slayed” by a major concert announcement coming April 13, which will include a “diamond” among its “ mayhem”-filled cast.