Holy motherforting shirt balls! Is this the good place? Alefort, Artfort, Comedyfort, Dragfort, Filmfort, Foodfort, Hackfort, Kidfort, Skatefort, Storyfort, and Yogafort. Oh, and that’s in addition to the almost 500 bands that hit the Boise indoor and outdoor venues for Treefort 2022.
Treefort is what SXSW is too big to be and what every other music festival wants to be. It’s the music on every corner, accessible-to-all, friendly to all, I-can-do-yoga-before-I-take-photos-in-the-pit festival with a variety of music types and even more of a variety of concert goer. Colorful wigs, sequins, solo fans, stoked fans, whole families of fans, cyclists, food trucks, and friendly folks all welcome and embraced here with a side of good beer (oh, and there’s probably a good band at that brewery too). Visitors probably won’t say “I don’t belong here” like The Good Place.
The beauty of Treefort comes in its redundancy. Missed Smokey Brights at the Egyptian? Catch them at their free set at Camp Modern. Didn’t see Cat Valley at the KIN? Catch them on the RadioLand stage. Feel like you missed something early in in the day? No worries: there are shows until the single-digit-land of the evening. It’s less FOMO and more of TFOMO: Treefort overflows music offerings. Everyone from the late night grub stub Top Dog to the local ice cream shop seems to embrace Treefort. With that kind of an adoption, Treefort is less an inconvenience but rather truly a local favorite. And what happens in this kind of an environment, ironically, is not the overwhelming thoughts of “I must have a great time” or “I must see everything” or “How many bands did I miss?” but rather, taking a breath (remember YogaFort?), embracing the decrease of pressure, and considering that “anything I see is going to be unique and probably awesome.”
As you jump out into Boise, and scamper from show to show, there may be moments when you feel an actual map would be helpful. But perhaps that’s the point of Treefort: you’re not lost if you don’t have a specific place to be. You’re not lost if the whole town is the festival. Perhaps embracing the lack of a map was a sneaky way of introducing me, and other first timers, to the Treefort way of things. Or forcing us to meet strangers. Or maybe a map would remind us that we’re actually in Boise, Idaho…not exactly the place that comes to mind for music festivals…and something you tended to forget midway through shows until the warm-up comedian wrapped up their set with a “Boise, you’ve been great!” An additional interesting element came in the form of COVID protocols as Treefort lifted their vaccine mandate/negative test requirement one week before showtime in accordance with local guidance. With bands coming directly from SXSW, where several cases popped up even with those requirements, only a few folks (like me) stuck to outdoor shows, while others embraced the freedom to celebrate restriction-free indoors. I only got one snide “the pandemic is over!” comment to my mask (which we wore in pit). He wasn’t in town for Treefort.
Once you’ve been through the five day-long escapade, nursing your ears (but perhaps buying Treefort ear plugs in the process; yes, I’m officially “I need to buy earplugs at a concert” years old) you’ll need to go back through your photos and the Treefort program to remember all the bands you saw. Free ones, dance ones, indie pop groups, folk bands, solo acts, rock stars…all embraced by the Boise community. Even at its most populated and popular concerts, you feel an ease, and some breathing room (even in the COVID era). Need to get a beer in the middle of the set? Fine. Want to scour the merch table while listening to new tunes? Go right ahead; it’s right there! Feel like you need to step into space to move and groove? You can do that here. At least for now. Quick! Tell everyone it’s really bad! You shouldn’t come! You’d hate it! This is The Bad Place! We swear!