Journey From Skate Parks To Cultural Centers To The Arctic Circle For Treefort Day 4
Treefort Day 4 was quite the trip. Of the shows I saw, three of them were outdoors, and it was frigid in Boise yesterday. Also, the sets I saw were all over the musical spectrum, and that’s why I love music festivals in general, but particular a festival with as much DIY energy as Treefort. There are artists that you see who you may be partially aware of, but who expand your horizons beyond what you ever expected. That will become clearer further down.
After my necessarily restful end to Day 3, I was reenergized and ready to go for Day 4. I woke up, got my work done, and hopped in an Uber over to Rhodes Skate Park for the first act of my day, TeZATalks. As I walked into the skate park, a DJ who goes by Rahkeem was spinning some excellent house tracks to keep the crowd moving in the frigid Boise air. Rhodes Skate Park is under the highway, which is a pretty cool use of that space, and it also has a gorgeous view of the mountains to the north. And then I noticed there was a dog behind me. This was going to be a good set. Though there were a few sound issues towards the beginning, TeZATalks was unfazed, tearing through her unique hardcore pop with reckless abandon. Tracks like “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” and “Say It Like You Mean It” carry so much weight on their own, but TeZA’s live performance somehow made them extra heavy. The whole energy of the show and the location and the crowd was just what we needed to start Saturday off right, and as TeZA reminded us: “You are the main character. Don’t let anyone else narrate your life.” The hardcore energy paired with the kids landing scooter tricks behind the performance was exceptional, and we need more shows in skate parks. Let’s make it happen.
Then I was wandering around Boise for a few hours, going back to take a breather and charge my phone so I was ready for the evening. The Greenbelt is an excellent way to traverse from downtown to the rest of Boise, and I can definitely say I’ve gotten my exercise in this week. After charging my phone, I hopped back on the Greenbelt to walk two miles back to Julia Davis Park for the next set.
Delicate Steve took the Gene Harris Bandshell and nothing was the same. The smell of funnel cake was in the air – it could have been some other form of fried dough, but whatever it was, it smelled awesome – and when I finally found the best position to hear everything in the live mix, it became obvious just how excellent this man is at the guitar. Even though he’s been “trying to escape the sound of the electric guitar,” the way he crafts lyrical melodies in an instrumental context is second to none. One of my personal flaws is that non-jazz instrumentals typically don’t grab me, but Delicate Steve is that rare artist who makes his songs transcend my need for words and voices. The set was insanely fun, and I can’t wait until I get to see him again.
And then it was time to sprint again. From the Bandshell, I was headed to the Basque Center for another Chicago artist, Sen Morimoto. The Japanese-American artist was taking the stage at 7, and I had left the park at 6:52. This is when I realized just how walkable downtown Boise is. Kudos to the Boise city planners on that. I was able to make it to the Basque Center with enough time to chill for a few minutes before Sen Morimoto started his set. From the cultural center’s homey great hall, Morimoto’s blend of jazz, pop, hip-hop, and overall sonic experimentation got the crowd invested right from the start. Ryan Person’s drumming was insanely tight, and though it was insane, it gave room for Morimoto’s vocals, saxophone, and keys to come through uninhibited. We as a crowd were slightly unsure of how close to get to the stage, but as the old saying goes, when KAINA beckons you closer to the stage, you go. At least I think that’s how that goes. Morimoto’s lyrical references to space fit perfectly with his cosmic sound, and the way he slid fluidly from his own songs to a Mitski cover to a Daft Punk reference back to Mitski was incredible. It might be my Chicago bias, but this set is more than likely ending up in my top five from the weekend. We’ll see what happens with a bit of distance, but Sen Morimoto’s set brought me to life. It was gorgeous.
After Sen Morimoto, I got dinner at an amazing local Chinese restaurant, and then I naturally had to go to Meriwether Cider Co’s Cider House. When my brother and his wife first moved out to Boise, we went to Meriwether, and my taste for cider has never been the same. This isn’t a review of alcoholic ciders, but if you’re ever in the Boise area and are a fan of cider, you need to try Meriwether. It will change your life.
It was also very helpful that Meriwether Cider was right next to the final stage of my night, the Cyclops Stage in Freak Alley. Canadian indie/psych rockers Meltt took the stage for the last show of their tour and, according to Treefort’s schedule, the last show of the weekend at Cyclops. Everyone was freezing, but the music kept us warm. As James, one of the four multi-instrumentalists in the band, pointed out: “This is our third time playing in Boise. It’s also our first time playing in the Arctic Circle, so thanks for coming out.” I didn’t take many notes for two reasons: the first is that I was locked in to the performance and didn’t want to break that concentration – seriously, if you get the chance to see Meltt live, do it – and the second is that my hands were glued inside my pockets for warmth. The band was totally locked in for their last set of the tour, and despite the cold, they kept it going their entire set. The aforementioned James didn’t put his hands in his pockets to warm up once. If he did, I didn’t notice it. Meltt put forth their best despite the frozen conditions, and those of us who braved the cold along with them were rewarded for our efforts. An excellent set from an excellent band to close out Day 4.
There were some late night sets that I missed in order to get sleep, but I can tell you that if you aren’t fighting jet lag, Treefort will reward you for staying out late. Last night, there were late night sets from Rayland Baxter, Infinity Song, and Siena Liggins, just to name a few. Treefort keeps going, and it’s completely worth powering through if you can. As the security guard at Treefort Music Hall was chanting the other night, we’re “loving every minute of it at Treefort.” One more day, everybody. Let’s finish strong!