A Full Recap For Treefort Music Festival 2023

As I sit in the Midwest, I’m a bit torn at the moment. There’s a lot to love here, sure, but recency bias and a small sample size are making me yearn for a return to Boise. A return to the Pacific Northwest. Mainly, though: a return to Treefort.

Credit: Andrew Gardner

Treefort Music Festival’s 2023 was a wonderful kickoff to festival season. Even with the intermittent flurries, the occasional rain, and the freezing temperatures, there were no shows I saw that could be labeled anything other than “excellent.” I must once again shoutout the city planners for designing such a walkable downtown, and I have to commend the organizers of Treefort for really putting together something incredible.

That sounds like it could be the wrap-up of the article, right? Well, at a certain point, we know how my festival recaps work. At this point, though, I must admit that I can’t do my typical “Top Three From A Given Day And Then Pare It Down To A Top Three Of The Whole Festival.” There was too much going on for that method to do this festival justice. I was running around downtown Boise conducting interviews with five incredible bands and artists (shoutout to Megafauna, NNAMDÏ, Meltt, TeZATalks, and Small Million!), and there was a day I didn’t even see more than two shows. So instead, I will be giving three honorable mentions, three favorite discoveries, and a top five of the whole festival listed from five to one. 

First, my honorable mentions! These three performances were absolutely incredible, it’s just that there happened to be five that were ever-so-slightly better. Also, I must note: all of this is completely subjective to my memory. If you’ve been following along with my recaps, you know that I enjoyed every single performance I saw. But these are the ones that stuck with me for some reason or another as the absolute cream of the crop. Leikeli47, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Megafauna all put on exceptional shows in Julia Davis Park, and I’ve linked to each of their daily recaps so you can read my full thoughts on those performances and see why I think they have to be mentioned.

I also mentioned having three favorite “discoveries.” These are bands that I knew nothing about going into the festival who absolutely blew me away. Music festivals are an excellent place for music discovery, particularly festivals like Treefort that provide a platform for local acts and up-and-comers to get their foot in the door. I’m not saying that is a good description of these three bands, because all of them are established, I just didn’t know them before Treefort. Destroy Boys, Covet, and YOU SAID STRANGE all took me by surprise and stand out to me from the artists I didn’t know before the festival. Once again, I have linked to their daily recaps so you can read my full thoughts. That way, I have dedicated space for this:

YOU SAID STRANGE (Credit: Andrew Gardner)

The Top Five Performances We Saw At Treefort 2023

5. Sen Morimoto

The Chicago-based Japanese-American singer/multi-instrumentalist/producer took the Basque Center stage at 7 PM on Saturday with Ryan Person as his drummer, and then proceeded to send us all into space. The cosmic quality of Sen Morimoto’s music comes through even more vividly live than it does on record which is saying a lot because his records sound phenomenal. As he fluidly switched between singing, playing keys, and playing saxophone, the audience got sucked in more and more. The crowd grew exponentially throughout his performance, and with good reason. With Sen Morimoto, we were “loving every minute of it at Treefort.” (If you ever want to know the rhythm of that quote, let me know. I’d be happy to sing it for you.)

Sen Morimoto & Ryan Person (Credit: Andrew Gardner)

4. Blu DeTiger (DJ Set)

I wrote in a creative piece of mine that is currently being workshopped that “it’s hard to please me with a DJ set,” or something along those lines. Blu DeTiger took that challenge that she clearly knew was there and absolutely demolished it. The Treefort Music Hall was bumping into the early morning hours Thursday night, and it’s all thanks to Blu DeTiger. Blending live bass with her DJ set brightened the room and had everybody moving, from the rail to the back wall. I know this because I went from the rail to the back wall. Being up front was incredible, but getting a bird’s eye view of the whole room helped me realize the power Blu DeTiger carries with her. Absolutely incredible performance from the “bass prodigy and burgeoning pop icon.”


These guys can also be classified as a “Best Discovery,” but merely putting them in that category would not adequately convey how amazing their set at Treefort Music Hall was. They perfectly blended audio and visual, and their use of looping and ambient soundscapes to create palpable tension is something that is difficult to achieve, let alone master. Coming from Santiago, Chile, Javier, Santiago, and José Tomás “operate an interconnected system of a hybrid set of instruments, synthesizers and drum-machines.” This might seem like a very technical statement to put in an artist bio, but it perfectly encapsulates what they do. Much like their band name translates to “Unstable Systems,” the sound system they create in sync with their lighting feels like it could come undone at any moment. Stacking loops on top of each other live sometimes results in utter catastrophe, and watching SISTEMAS INESTABLES was like watching three people laugh in the face of death. Who cares if it all comes apart? We’ll keep it together until it does.

SISTEMAS INESTABLES (Credit: Andrew Gardner)

2. Meltt

According to their bio, “a Meltt album or show is designed to transport the listener to spaces they have only previously dreamt of.” With a little help from the weather, Meltt transported not only the audience but also themselves to the Arctic Circle at the Cyclops Stage on Saturday night. It may have been completely frigid in the night air, but other than a few quips, they seemed completely unfazed by it. The Vancouver band tore through their set with total precision, keeping the crowd distracted from the elements and melting (get out the laughs now) the ice around us while melding the worlds of performer and audience. There is a lot more information that I want to put here, but most of it comes from the interview I had with the band. If I put it out here now, there won’t be any reason to read that interview. Just know that Meltt’s Saturday night show was exceptional, and be on the lookout for that interview to be written soon!


This is not a Midwestern bias. This is not a Chicago bias. This is not painted by any preconceived notions of NNAMDÏ and his music. This is just a pure statement of fact. NNAMDÏ’s Friday night set at Treefort Music Hall was flawless. His vocals were tight, his band was on it, and his stage presence brought a buoyancy to the room that brought me back to life after an exhausting Friday. The crowd was responsive, singing and screaming along with msot of the songs, dancing to everything danceable, and giving their all as an audience because it was obvious that he was giving his all as a performer. If you ever get a chance to see a NNAMDÏ show and you don’t take it, I will find you and scold you. There are not many people out there doing it like him right now, and if you pass up that opportunity, you’ll regret it. As the one guy said behind me during his set: “He’s an artist, man. A real artist.” The live performance of “Some Days” has become a core memory for me, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

NNAMDÏ (Credit: Andrew Gardner)

And that was Treefort 2023! I’ll be transcribing and writing up the interviews that Megafauna, NNAMDÏ, Meltt, TeZATalks, and Small Million so graciously made time for, so be on the lookout for those. All in all, an amazing festival. Does it rival some of the bigger guns? No. But does it need to? In my opinion, also no. Treefort has a wonderful thing going with how they spread out across the entire downtown of Boise, making attendees fully explore the city and realize that there’s more to Idaho than just potatoes.

Huge thanks to Treefort for having us! If you’ve been following along, let us know if you were surprised by this final recap, and if you were at the festival, let us know if we missed anybody! Obviously there’s only so much time and so many sets, but we’re always curious about that! See you next time, Boise. Keep it up.

Andrew Gardner Administrator
Obsessed with all things music. Currently finishing an MFA in Chicago. If you see me at a show, say hey!
Andrew Gardner Administrator
Obsessed with all things music. Currently finishing an MFA in Chicago. If you see me at a show, say hey!

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