While Boise, Idaho might not be the first place you think of when you imagine a music festival, Treefort Music Festival is here to change that.
Scattered across downtown Boise is the beloved northwestern institution that enters its 11th year with a stacked lineup of musicians, comedians, authors, drag queens and more. It's a hidden gem enjoyed by nerds, enthusiasts and locals alike. Heralded as an inclusive haven for culture and community, Treefort has platformed the likes of differently abled dancers, LGBTQ+ musicians and small businesses. It's also a necessary tour stop for many musicians, and this year sees familiar faces and some new ones touch down in Boise for a fun-filled five-day celebration including Ani DiFranco, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Leikeli47. There's even some familiar PAPER friends, including Frost Children, Model/Actriz and Blu DeTiger.
The festival notably boasts programming for all ages. There’s Alefort, where attendees can enjoy locally made craft beverages and food as a celebration of Boise’s underrated culinary scene. There’s also Storyfort, where everyone from celebrated poets to podcasters spread the magic of narrative. Perhaps one of the most impactful is Dragfort, a lively showcase of drag’s up-and-coming talent as well as seasoned veterans from across the country. In light of oppressive legislation that seeks to ban drag, the discussion of sexual orientation in schools and a lot more, organizers bring the ferocity to protest.
Below, check out some songs to get you ready for Treefort’s massive weekend full of music, drinks, drag and community.
454 - "ANDRETTI"
Born out of the more poppy, glitchy wave of Florida hip-hop is the young rap star 454. His music scratches the hyperactive spot in your brain, with his music perhaps best described as a Sour Patch Kid. Clever, sometimes heartbreaking, other times menacing bars wrapped up in production that seems just a bit too far out of reach to be both nostalgic and futuristic is what makes 454 so unique.
700 Bliss - "Bless Grips"
700 Bliss is the brainchild of the genre-transcendent DJ Haram and jazz poet and rapper Moor Mother. Together, the two unlock a new potential in each other that was almost inconceivable. Haram reaches deep into jersey club, jungle and even horrorcore production as the groundwork for Moor Mother's tangled threads of trauma, anger and resilience. Through pockets of rhythm and euphoria, 700 Bliss show that it is possible to make it out alive. They made the soundtrack of survival.
Cautious Clay - "Karma & Friends"
Still riding off the high of his brilliant 2021 debut Deadpan Love alongside his latest EP Thin Ice on the Cake, the pop mastermind has an ear for melodies that stay with you. Clay's silky, comforting falsetto encompasses everything from happiness to longing, and he leaves just enough up to interpretation. Cautious Clay creates canvases for human emotion and he lets us color in the lines.
Destroy Boys - "I Threw Glass at My Friend's Eyes and Now I'm on Probation"
As one of the older entries in the list, Destroy Boys' brilliantly titled "I Threw Glass at My Friend's Eyes and Now I'm on Probation" feels like the perfect thesis for the California punks' destructive, noisy and wickedly fun ethos. Like the thrill of running with scissors while wearing open-toed shoes on a cobble street, their songs possess a primal groove reminiscent of '80s California hardcore juxtaposed with confessional, hilarious and poignant reflections of humanity and life's passing moments that beg a second look.
Guerilla Toss - "Famously Alive"
Guerilla Toss has been a staple within the New York underground for quite some time now, but their infectious psych-punk should've been worldwide yesterday. Following the release of their magnificent and intensely vulnerable 2022 record Famously Alive, which details lead singer Kassie Carlson's opiate addiction that almost turned deadly and her subsequent recovery, they can't help but sound nothing short of thrilled. From the dizzying noisy bops of their early career to the pop-forward free fall into catharsis on their new record, Guerilla Toss is going to bring their East Coast grit to Boise for one helluva show.
Leikeli47 - "New Money"
Leikeli47 has been blending house with hip-hop and R&B far before the 2022 conversations were even had, and her lengthy career is nothing short of special. Her limber raps skitter and splash over bass-heavy beats and ass-shaking grooves as she twists and turns into her rich croon that can morph into her cartoonish, fast-paced delivery. Despite remaining anonymous throughout her career, Leikeli proves that a face reveal isn't needed to create a unique and powerful persona and aesthetic.
MAVI - "The Inconvenient Truth"
MAVI is one of the most spectacular rappers of this generation and his long-winding roads toward discovering the essence of both himself and the world around him never feel overwrought. His excellent 2022 offering Laughing So Hard, It Hurts is a careful inspection of who he is at his core as he takes his long, rugged walk to the finish line with a sense of pride. His delivery allows for a meditation on his rhythm and his message as he unravels himself both in the music and on stage for all to take from and return to him.
MIKE - "What Do I Do?"
MIKE's stream of consciousness never once sounds like rambles, but instead like a friend who you can sit with for hours, digging deep into the core of each others' psyches until you reach the other side. Even in his frustration, sadness and desperation, there's a sense of pride as he weaves through his words and their meaning like a seasoned poet. In his collage of life, MIKE invites all to weave themselves into his tapestry as he takes upon life's good and bad moments to keep him warm. Akin to a warm hug or a spiritual awakening, MIKE is out to speak the truth.
Model/Actriz - "Slate"
Model/Actriz has been making waves over the past year for their high-energy, confusing, movement-inducing noise-rock. With a sound that calls back to the golden days of New York dance-punk with the ferocity of black midi, Model/Actriz reaches sexual highs and devastating lows like a hysteric conductor, and that's the best kind of music to see live.
NNAMDÏ - "I Don't Wanna Be Famous"
Chicago's own NNAMDÏ is not exactly pop, indie or electronic, but the multi-hyphenate does not need a label. The midwestern DIY mainstay blends shiny pop melodies with an experimental flair, taking cues from the rich music scenes of his hometown, from hip-hop to rock. Be prepared to move.
Yaya Bey - "alright"
If Brooklyn singer-songwriter Yaya Bey isn't on your radar by now, there's a chance to catch up. Her genre-defining 2022 record Remember Your North Star is a meditation on Black womanhood and how it intertwines with the world around her. From spiritual to physical, Bey wraps up her wounds with care and compassion before venturing out into a world that she know may hurt her again. Her tales of generational trauma and heartache are treated with the same grace as her victories, and her voice serves as the thread through it all. Everything is connected, and Yaya Bey is here to hold your hand through it.
You can find more information about Treefort Music Festival here.
Photos courtesy of the artists
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