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Words by Catie Young  /  Photos by Ben Lindbloom

Most major experiences happen to me in stages. Usually the progression looks something like this: anxiety –> stimulation –> exhaustion. Treefort 2015 was no exception to this rule. But instead of telling you about the stimulation portion like I usually do (You know Emily Wells is amazing. You know YACHT makes people dance and Geographer has a great haircut. You will soon know that Clarke and the Himselfs is my new favorite band, Frugal Father is the best thing that’s happened in the Rose Room since that chocolate fountain at prom, and Grandparents are heartbreakingly photogenic. I still have a crush on Lemolo, and Built to Spill still sounds like the inside of my skin. Also, if I died listening to Wild Ones sing that Cranberries cover, I would be dying happy.), I want to talk about exhaustion. This is what I mean:

Treefort has a lot going on. As discussed last year, there are forts on forts on forts and they are all pretty great (I’m partial to Storyfort, but more on that later). That is to say, it is very difficult to decide where to be and when. Here is a surprisingly nice picture of Bryant and I trying to make a plan, our pre Bloody Mary brows furrowed with joyful uncertainty:

So, after outlining a schedule in my planner (the paper kind), entering it into The Internet and having it emailed to me, entering it again into an app on my phone, then writing it on my hand for good measure, my response was to abandon the schedule (partially … I’m not THAT free), wander around, and try to see everything and everyone I could see. Ten bands playing at once in the middle of the road led by Seth Olinsky using the quietest bullhorn on Earth, for example:

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For five days in a row, I drank more drinks than recommended by the The People Who Know What’s Best For You, I walked and stood all day in impractical shoes, I wore earplugs only part of the time, I drank too much coffee and not enough water, I stayed up WAY past my bedtime then got up early to go for a run in the foothills because I’m from Idaho and that’s what we do. For five days. As you might expect, I got very tired.

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People go to festivals like Treefort for a lot of different reasons. The music, friends, an excuse to get unapologetically fucked up, The Experience. Most people who avoid music festivals do so because of the fatigue. That used to be my go-to excuse, anyway, but now it will be my reason for being there. Day five of Treefort was nothing short of revelatory. Midmorning on Sunday, I wandered downtown and walked up the stairs of the Linen Building, where I sat (!) and listened to poets whose work I care about. Then, armed with mimosas, I and many of the others in the room cried for an hour while Alan Heathcock reminded us why we write and why it matters that we keep doing it. Before this gets REALLY serious, though, here is a picture of a common Boise tree that smells like semen:

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I know this is a music blog, but the point of music and other forms of art is that they reach beyond themselves. They allow us to reach each other. (Thanks for that one, Alan.) Being from Boise, having lived in Seattle, and now living in Portland, the five days of Treefort feel like a weird amalgam dreamland of all my homes. And it was at Treefort, listening to poets who live in Portland and Butte and Denver, but who have spent a significant amount of time in Boise as well, that I realized this city’s potential to nurture the convergence of the big, bright, sprawling, conservative, mountain, desert west and the dark, creative, lush, liberal, urban centers of the Pacific Northwest. Here is the Neurolux, a good place to think:

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This crossover is inevitable and it isn’t particularly new–it’s evident to me when I listen to Built to Spill and Youth Lagoon; I see it in the paintings of Erin Cunningham and Kelly Packer; I feel it in the poems of Ed Skoog, Karena Youtz, Brandon Shimoda, Adrian Kien, Tyler Brewington, and so many others–but it feels like it’s growing and I want it to. This aesthetic, this conversation, this conflict is compelling. I want it to be something we are all talking about. I want it to be in our art and in our way of thinking about the identity of this quadrant of the country. With the help of the immediacy of our current culture and periodic stimulation overload barrages that put us all in the same room, I think it’s possible. I want Boise to be at the center of it and Treefort is a big step on the way to making that happen.

I spent the rest of that final day and night talking to people about their feelings. We were all raw, tired, euphoric. We were all utterly tender toward one another, really listening, really being kind. We were a we. Let’s do more of that. This is what the sky looks like in Idaho:

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