As I re-enter the wholesome land of Kalefort and Exercisefort, I should be tired of putting fort at the end of whatever noun just happens along. I’m not. It’s true, this year there were a lot of forts at Treefort. Hackfort, Skatefort, Alefort, Yogafort, Kidfort, Storyfort. Some found more success than others, but there certainly was something for everyone. Even the food trucks (all local, mind you … still we saw neither hide nor hair of Subway, Monster, etc.) presented a plethora of options. Case in point: the super charming (& delicious) Neckar Coffee trailer pictured below.
The same was true of this year’s lineup. It veered more confidently than ever toward emerging artists in all genres and there were more of them — 350 or so in total. Oddly, this seemed to lend itself to an even better-streamlined event than the first two fairyland years, that is, to a more balanced audience dispersal. There were fewer lines and the lines that did form moved quickly. Every show I walked into had a decently sized audience and bands were enthusiastic (they continue to be treated better at Treefort than most any other festival in the country). The sun was out and good attitudes all but fell from the sky. I saw friends I haven’t seen since high school, people’s parents, people’s babies, old bosses, and every person I’ve ever dated and we were all nice to each other. Even now, as I sit at The Crux listening to digital Dan Deacon burst forth through the speakers, a normally sullen-looking young woman professes with a smile, “That Treefort was so wonderful!” “It was, wasn’t it,” bored, bearded barista earnestly replies. We are hungover. We are happy. We are reinvigorated even as we recover.
In the interest of telling you something besides “I love everything that happened,” (I did … with the exception of those life-sized finger puppet monster costumes, but that’s just because I feel uncomfortable when I can’t see people’s faces) here are a couple of highlights from each day of this year’s festival:
Dan Deacon being exceedingly charming and funny and articulate at Hackfort then going on mere hours later to give a set that brought into question the integrity of the floor at the Shriner’s. (Personal side note: The fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of Idahoans have now not only heard the name “Dan Deacon,” but react to him like he is the messiah is one of my very favorite markers of Treefort’s presence here over the past couple of years.)
Friends And Family were wearing the exact amount of glitter I’d hoped. And that one girl had gold tap shoes. And there was a french horn. They were so motley and shiny and I loved them. Who says there’s no sun in Seattle?
Chastity Belt: “That song was about having a party. This song is about being a slut. It’s called Cool Slut.” DHM interview with these babes forthcoming.
Mount Eerie: I’d never seen Phil Elverum play before and now nothing will ever be the same again. I hope I do one thing in my life that feels half as important as standing in the same room as that man.
BAD90s / Blvrred Vision / Built to Spill: Alliterative b-b-bands from Boise that all just destroyed. People are making things here. It’s no myth.
Blvrred Vision / Photo by Ben Lindbloom
Mimosa reading with Michael Earl Craig, Emily Kendal Frey & Rob Schlegel. I know this isn’t music (isn’t it music?), but this was excellently curated. Nice work bringing three fucking wonderful poets to this festival, Storyfort. And free mimosas. Always free mimosas.
Apes On Tape Showcase: This might be the single most important thing I observed at Treefort this year. An unofficial showcase organized by a well-loved, but relatively small-scale music blog. This is the kind of SXSW-esque shit we want to have happen. Not the stuff that makes SXSW, as Jeff Chu put it, “a joke because it’s become so commercialized.” I didn’t even know this was happening until Sunday, but was lucky enough to catch Manatee Comune, AU, and Cathedral Pearls in the brew room at Woodland Empire, which is part of what made it so magical. The light in there on a Sunday afternoon after poetry mimosas?! I mean wow.
Full disclosure: I did a lot more helping with Treefort this year than I have in past years. I wrote some band descriptions. I moved some stuff. I helped paint banners and print t-shirts. Doing those things (those comparatively tiny things) allowed me to witness something I’d only previously assumed. People work really hard to make this festival happen. Not just the people you hear about. Almost every person in this town who cares about this town is helping in whatever way they can, usually for no money and with no recognition. And that’s okay with them because this is important. It is going to have a bigger impact than we can imagine. This is already evident in the shows that have started coming through since Treefort’s inception two years ago. Every time I boomerang back to this city that’s impossible to stay away from, I am more and more impressed by the options, by the fact that nearly any night I can see a show I’d want to see even if I were living in Seattle. I’ve been drinking the water. It tastes good. And I don’t know what else there is to do but to keep telling you that Treefort is really fucking special and it’s special because of the particular breed of people in this strange little almost-city. I guess you’ll have to see for yourself.