Treefort is Back! Boise’, and the Pacific North West’s most popular event has returned after the unplanned ‘hiatus’ that was called 2020. All the top ‘Forts’ will be there, including Foodfort, Alefort, Comedyfort, Kidfort, Hackfort, Filmfort, Dragfort, Yogafort and Storyfort. With over 400 bands, the music will really be turned up; and there is bound to be something to please everyone. The headliners this year at Treefort Music Fest include Japanese Breakfast, The Marias, Lake Street Dive, Calexico and Dawn Richard. Treefort Music Fest will run September 22-26, 2021.
For those who have never experienced the Treefort Music Fest—because it is not just a music festival, it is an all-encompassing experience—Treefort and its allied Forts take over a big swath of Downtown Boise. Venues run everywhere through downtown, from the Boise Centre, the El Korah Shrine Music Stage, Olympic Venue, Idaho State Museum and the massive Main Stage music area; to 10th Street Station, Pengilly’s Saloon (with their 113-year old Brunswick Bar), the Neurolux, The Funky Taco, Guru Donuts and the Mad Swede Brew Hall.
Update August 11: Treefort has updated their COVID-19 protocols for entrance to all events: Please read about the new requirements for entry to Treefort here
The Alefort tent will be an extremely popular venue, providing a look at Boise’s tremendous selection of beers, ales and ciders. This year, special programming at Alefort will celebrate fall season classics like Octoberfest, but in fresh, updated style. This year, Alefort is free to enter the public (21+). Several options to purchase beverages will be available, with added cocktails to the beer and ale selection this year. There is even a special Buzz Entrance this year. Guests who by a special Buzz Pass can skip the line via the Buzz entrance, get exclusive merch and goodies and sample private reserves. You’ll also have access to private bathrooms.
Foodfort will be back, with tasty topics featured at the returning Street Eats event. Returning chefs and restaurants at Street Eats include Chef Sarah Kelly from Petit Four, Chef John Cuevas of Madre. Also at Street Eats will be local favorites such as St. Laurence Gridiron, The Hyde House, Wild Root, the Boise Co-op, Adelfa’s Comida Cubana, Mai Thai and Sunshine Space Cafe. Figgy Bakes will provide a scrumptious dessert; and the ticket includes a free cocktail from Buffalo Trace. Returning Celebrity Chef Hugh Acheson is coming in from Athens, GA and will present a demo at the Boise Farmer’s Market. Other Foodfort events include the Farm to Fest; and talks will include Foraging Foodies and Trout: From Sustainable Fishing to the Perfect Sear.
The joke’s on you if you hadn’t seen the excellent comics at the 2019 Comedyfort. LJ Sullivan will be one of the talented Boise comics doing his stand-up this year. He told The Los Angeles Beat, “I’m super excited to be on Treefort! It feels like a real rite of passage as a local artist, also as a comic once I’ve done Treefort I’ll have done every festival locally available to me. However the audiences for Treefort are known to be by far the biggest and the best, it’s a huge part of Boise’s culture one of the things that brings everyone together for those few days Treefort is all anyone is talking about. so it feels like fantastic exposure to my whole city and the chance to make some people laugh who maybe haven’t seen any live entertainment the past year or so and have been waiting for some relief. I can’t wait!”.
Artfort will include not just paintings and statues, but a wide variety of shows too. Ballet Idaho will provide LED, an original dance film based on an Oscar Wilde essay. It will be showing at LED on Grove Street. Idaho Dance Theatre will also present their dance company’s performance at LED. Live Flamenco group Shimi Tree will also grace the LED stage. For those who enjoy the weird, a punk rock version of Victorian art of puppetry brings The Horrific Puppet Affair to the Sanctuary. It is like a Pee Wee Herman/Muppets show gone horribly wrong and enough to make your inner child squirm.
Of course, Treefort remains first and foremost a music event. Angel Abaya, who has been doing Treefort’s PR for several years, told The Los Angeles Beat, “We are very excited to have a Treefort this September and are looking forward to once again hosting hundreds of artists, writers, yogis, comics, etc. Like every year, the lineup is fun and eclectic and full of amazing artists such as Japanese Breakfast, The Marías, Lake Street Dive, Calexico, and Dawn Richard.” This year, Angel will also take her time on the main stage. She is a music artist who creates films as well as music. Angel said, “I am honored to be performing at Treefort 2021 at Main Stage. This will be my first time performing on Main Stage. My debut album, The Bubble, to be released, is all about authenticity, following your own path, and discovering new things about yourself. The music goes through all the trials and tribulations of finding your own identity and reflects the various emotions that come with growth and change.”
As usual, several LA-based bands are traveling up north for Treefort. The Marias are one of the headliners; and describe themselves as “the psychedelic-soul lovechild of LA native, Josh Conway and Puerto Rican-bred, Atlanta-raised, María.”. An indie-pop band, they’ll provide a unique blend of sounds for the festival. Also heading up from L.A. is Los Angeles based DJ and producer Jamie Sitter, a.k.a. “J. Worra”. She’ll be bringing her electronic house music to Treefort for everyone to hear. Coming out of L.A.’s beat scene is Prefuse 73 with his novel approach to hip-hop music. In a different vein, Sonny and the Sunsets brings their blend of doo-wop, surf music and beach stylyings birthed in beautiful Ocean Beach.
Other bands, both local and from across the country, are getting a place to showcase their music throughout downtown Boise. This is a great sign that Treefort is back. Lobo Lara, a Latino Producer/Artist from Boise, will perform at the Hideout. The Shivas, a lively rock ‘n’ roll ensemble will also play at the Hideout. From Hailey ID, the Hurdy Gurdy Girls are bringing old time songs with a with a honky tonk feeling to Lost Grove Brewing. The psych-pop sounds of Sugar Candy Mountain will bring their wild ‘70s classic sounds woven with psych jams and tripped out Tropćalia to Kin. From the Bay Area, Fake Fruit brings their energetic music to one of the most popular venues, Downtown Boise’s Linen Building. Meanwhile, Effy K brings her popular DJ’ing to The Shredder.
The Reef hosts Earthlings Crew; while local favorites and Treefort perennial Built to Spill plays the stage at the El Korah Shrine. Mother Yeti, a Northwest band, comes to Hannah’s on Main Street. Dendrons comes to The Shredder on 10thStreet from Chicago. The Basque Center will host groups like Orchestra Gold, purveyors of high-energy 1960’S African psychedelic rock. And of course, it wouldn’t be Treefort without Rocci Johnson’s Band rocking out at Hannah’s. Texas based Auragraph comes to the Knitting Factory, while Boise’s Bright Old Giant plays at the Mardi Gras Ballroom. AS another sign that Treefort is back, the popular Main Stage will host a bevy of headliner including Toronto-based Luna Li, garage-rock favorites Detroit-based Detroit Cobras; and the eclectic Afrosonics, with their sounds that range from rock to opera and hail from Boise.
In addition to the concerts, several musicians will be going out of the box to share their other creative endeavors. Michelle Zauner (aka Japanese Breakfast) will be at Storyfort talking about her just released book Crying in H Mart. Joshy Soul, a very talented singer/songwriter and artist from Long Beach, CA, will be performing a late night set at the El Korah Shrine, pairing with the Boise Circus Guild to present a one-of-a-kind performance. Colossal Collective will be showing up all over the Fest with their fun, large scale puppets. With Kidfort, the young guests attending will have their own choices of what they’d enjoy doing also.
Another sign that Treefort is Back in a big way will be this year’s coverage by the Boise Beat. This year, we are teaming up with our sister publication The Boise Beat to provide not just Boise-based interviews but also before and during the Treefort Music Fest, Southern California coverage of bands and others that will be traveling up to Boise. All in all, Treefort Music Fest will encompass over 400 bands, s sure sign that Treefort is back. If you don’t have your tickets for Treefort yet, get them now while you can. Treefort Music Fest 2021 promises to bring Boise’s music and entertainment scene back in a big way. With all the music, plus the food and a big selection of the other Forts, this should be a Treefort that you will long remember.
All photos by Ed Simon except “Shredding It” and “Alefort” by Terry Welch