Words & Deeds

Deeds: Treefort festival in Boise had all the right acts — even Rod Stewart

A giant arachnid “terrorizes” festivalgoers at Treefort Music Fest.
A giant arachnid “terrorizes” festivalgoers at Treefort Music Fest. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Even if you have superhuman festival skills and managed to witness all 400-plus acts at last week’s five-day Treefort Music Fest in Boise, you still missed a major name.

Rod Stewart.

The spiky-haired chauffeur provided transportation for performers. Dressed in his garish garb, Boisean Randy Fowler — the Rod Stewart lookalike of local Rod’s Limos fame — even rolled out a little red carpet for singers such as goth goddess Chelsea Wolfe.

When Denver’s airport was closed because of bad weather, soul singer Charles Bradley — in danger of missing his main stage headlining set Friday at Treefort — was rerouted to Salt Lake City with his band, The Extraordinaires.

Guess who saved the day?

“We sent ol’ Rod in his stretch Escalade to go pick him up,” Treefort director Eric Gilbert says with chuckle. “The band couldn’t have been more stoked that we went the extra 300 miles — or 700 miles, whatever it is.”

Treefort always seems to go that extra mile. From musicians and fans to security and police, it was tough to find anyone but satisfied customers.

Attendance figures aren’t available — with luck, we’ll have those in a week or two. Prodded gently, Gilbert takes a stab and guesses that ticket sales were up roughly 10 percent. He reiterates that he’s guessing.

If you didn’t buy a wristband, you missed out, Grandma. Unexpected fun lurked everywhere. Often, it had nothing to do with the indie-rock that saturates Treefort. A dinosaur-sized neon tarantula trampled through Downtown Boise after dark. Smaller sparks of whimsy illuminated other festival corners. Did anyone else see the Hacky Sack athlete outside the main stage? A resident of Las Vegas, he informed me that the U.S. Open Freestyle Footbag Championships will be held in Boise this year. (Whaaat?)

The best surprise was the lack of long lines. (Portable toilets at the main stage excluded.) Sure, El Korah Shrine and its 600-capacity room created waits. I skipped a line there Friday prior to Thundercat. Instead, I wound up at The Olympic for Adult Books, a punk-tinged L.A. band that snarled perfectly in that new Treefort venue.

For the most part, the Treefort audience was evenly dispersed.

“I felt like our crowd was just better spread out, and everywhere felt pretty strong,” Gilbert says. “It wasn’t like it wasn’t that way before. But it was interesting that sales were up but lines were better.”

Prior to Treefort, Gilbert claimed that this was the festival’s most consistent lineup across all venues. The lack of lines would seem to support that statement.

Arts-related subforts, which showed up in force last year at Treefort, blossomed further in 2016. Filmfort had record attendance. Storyfort was at capacity. Energized by the addition of Foodfort, the Alefort tent was a happy if overcrowded zoo. Local chefs did not hold back; some of that affordable Foodfort grub looked amazing. (Naturally, I focused on beer standouts instead — such as Sockeye Brewing’s Chocolate Mint Winterfest and Bear Island’s tasty Fuse Jalapeno Pale Ale, which I’d somehow never tried before.)

And what was this unofficial Marshmallowfort that I heard rumors about Saturday? Was it real?

I should have asked a kid. They were everywhere. Kids shadowed Treefort volunteers and helped build the festival. They shot video and helped document Treefort.

“The more kids have a tangible connection to it and are not just on the sidelines while their parents are partying is really cool,” Gilbert says. “That’s an exciting continuing development for us.”

“Continuing development.” When Treefort was struggling financially its first few years, the question always loomed: Will there be another one?

Treefort 2017 seems like a given nowadays — not to mention Treefort operating in the black. Filling a stretch limo’s gas tank to Salt Lake City can’t be cheap, right?

Country concerts coming to town

▪  The Band Perry will headline the Jacksons Country Stomp on Thursday, June 16, at the Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater. Eric Paslay, Jana Kramer and Chuck Wicks open. Tickets go on sale April 20 for $30 at ICTickets. Or grab one for $25 at Jacksons stores from April 20-25.

▪  Carrie Underwood will perform at Taco Bell Arena on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Easton Corbin and the Swon Brothers open. Tickets go on sale April 8 for $46 and $76 at Ticketmaster.

Final Idaho Stampede games — ever?

Boise’s NBA Development League team finishes its season with a two-game home stand this weekend.

I’m betting it’s the end of the Stampede in Idaho, period.

The Stampede have been in the Treasure Valley since the 1990s. But the team was purchased by the Utah Jazz last year, and seems to move closer to Salt Lake City in 2017.

That’s a bummer for Treasure Valley hoops fans. The poorly attended games always provide affordable, high-caliber athletic entertainment.

Michael Deeds: 208-377-6407, @michaeldeeds

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