I’ve never been privy to a scientific study supporting the theory, but I’m relatively certain that Boise has more free outdoor festivals per capita than anywhere else on the planet.
It’s a fantastic summer perk of living here. And none is more iconic than Alive After Five.
Downtown Boise’s weekly concert series kicks off Wednesday, June 3. Despite mutterings that it might relocate because of nearby construction, Alive After Five will remain at its longtime home in The Grove plaza.
Last summer, The Village at Meridian launched its own take on the free party phenomenon. Named Rock the Village, it’s on Fridays at Fountain Square. Organizers say it averaged about 5,500 attendees per night. Impressive.
Both events are easygoing, after-work steam relievers. That said, they differ not just in location, but in time and music attitude.
Alive After Five starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m., approximately one brewskie before you were ready to head home. Look, it is a work night. Nobody really wants to stay out late. Besides, ever make the mistake of agreeing to have one drink with friends afterward then eventually noticing it’s 1 a.m.? Beware of that Boise midweek magic.
The Village starts rocking at 6:30 p.m. and ends nearly two hours later than Alive After Five: 9:45 p.m., just in time to catch the Friday late movie at Village Cinema.
Both series showcase lots of local bands, particularly as opening acts. But Alive After Five’s headliners lean toward touring acts performing original music, while Rock the Village has no problem with crowd-pleasing tribute bands.
Among this season’s Alive After Five highlights, folk-laced indie-rock band Hollow Wood (June 10), from Boise, is one I’d like you to check out. Another is Houston soul powerhouse The Suffers (July 8), who packed Neurolux during a February visit. That band often gets compared to Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings — with good reason. Other headliners that fans will be stoked about include the Clumsy Lovers (June 24) and Scars on 45 (July 22).
Right out of the gate July 10, Rock The Village lays down the gauntlet. It is serious about cover songs. Fleetwood Mask, a Fleetwood Mac tribute act from Pleasanton, Calif., even has a video from Mick Fleetwood on its website touting these musicians’ awesomeness. “Get excited. Get ready,” he says. “You are in for a real treat, because Fleetwood Mask is about to hit the stage.”
(Wow, Mick. Would Lindsey Buckingham ever do that?)
Other tributes heading to Rock the Village include Kahuna Beach Party (July 17, Beach Boys), Stone in Love (July 31, Journey) and Imagine (Aug. 28, Beatles).
Sneer away, music snobs. I promise that some of those cheesy bands will be a lot of fun. Besides, Rock the Village runs late, remember? Have that second beer.
Michael Deeds column runs Fridays in Scene and every other Sunday in Explore. He co-hosts “The Other Studio” at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.