Treefort 2016: Festival Preview

[Originally published under Noise & Color PDX, March 2, 2016]

Now in its 5th year, Treefort Music Fest is Boise’s premier multi-day music and culture event. Gathering over 400 bands from around the Pacific Northwest and the world, this five day party – from March 23-27 – fills the streets and venues of Idaho’s capitol with thousands of fans seeking new acts and old favorites alike. In addition to the packed music schedule, Treefort also features a variety of other ‘Forts’ that run the gamut from a beer fest to yoga sessions.

This year’s festival offerings include: AleFort, ComedyFort, FilmFort, FoodFort, HackFort, KidFort, StoryFort, YogaFort, and Performance Art pieces all around the city. Check out the massive music schedule here, and make sure to take time to relax with a beer or mountain pose. Still need to purchase tickets? There are a variety of passes available from single-day, to five-day, to skipping admission lines like a boss. Or, if you feel like volunteering to help things run smoothly, 5-day passes are available for $30 if you work a minimum of 3 shifts.

Noise & Color PDX will be back at Treefort this year scoping out all that the festival has to offer. Keep up with our coverage throughout the event on Instagram (@noiseandcolorpdx ) and Twitter (@NC_PDX ), and check below for some of our standout picks in music, comedy and other happenings.

Music Picks (Natl. + Beyond)

There are some big names on the main stages this year. Some of these bands have shaped the scene, while others are up and coming acts that burst onto the global charts with new sounds and a taste for shaking things up. Our top three national and international music picks this year are:

Chelsea Wolfe (Los Angeles, CA)

Treading the line between singer-songwriter and ethereal doom spirit, Chelsea Wolfe has carved out a niche for herself with haunting vocals and heavy, tumultuous riffs that give way to dream-like reveries. Drawing particularly from the sludgy gravity of stoner metal, but infusing it with a more operatic folk sensibility, she’s headlined major festivals like Calgary’s Sled Island, and Levitation Fest with other heavy hitters like Earth.

CocoRosie (Brooktown, France)

Sure to be one of the more surreal acts at Treefort this year, CocoRosie is a blend of every imaginable style and genre. Hinged on the two sisters’ disparate vocal deliveries (lilting rap and sparkly crooning), these multi-instrumentalists craft pop songs and operatic odes in equal measure. Spreading beyond the traditional musical structure, the songs bring in personal and spiritual truths filtered through an experimental lens.

La Luz (Los Angeles, CA by way of Seattle, WA)

With their four-part harmonies and dark, surfy basslines, La Luz is equal parts doo wop and dream pop. By mixing an echoey, personal vocal aesthetic with catchy hooks and tight drums, the quartet brings an infectious energy to their songs that will cause even the most steadfast Portland headbobber to move their feet. Plus, their live set lends itself well to stage-diving and other acts of bodily exertion.

Other national and international acts definitely worth catching at Treefort: Aesop Rock w/ Rob Sonic, Built To Spill,Chairlift, Thee Oh Sees, Thundercat, Nosaj Thing, Magic Sword, and Youth Lagoon

Portland-based Music Picks

Of course, we have to give a special spotlight to Portland bands making the trip to Boise, as we are one of the most represented cities at this year’s festival. The following acts are generating buzz at home in #pdx, and will surely please the masses in Boise. Our Portland music picks are:

Cat Hoch

Drenched in fuzz and psychedelia, Cat Hoch burst onto the scene with ‘Look What You Found’ in late 2015. Breathy, shimmering vocals fade and swell over jazz-influenced drums and catchy hooks. Taking cues from other dream pop outfits, Hoch evolves the usually haziness of such acts and infuses it with a swirling current that is imminently danceable. Not content to just drift along in the current, Hoch introduces (to great effect) much needed rough patches to the smooth fog of 70s nostalgia.

Radiation City

At once sounding like music from the future and yesteryear, Radiation City’s tight grooves and enchanting vocal harmonies will surely take hold of your ears and feet. Eschewing more traditional song structures in favor of sci-fi experimentation and a wide range of sonic texture, the five piece still manages to capture a distinct sound all their own. Fresh off their February 2016 LP release of Synesthetica on Polyvinyl Records, these road-tested musicians just keep getting better and better.


A side project of Genders’ frontwoman Maggie Morris, Sunbathe is a mixture of gritty garage rock with darkly dreamy, personal songwriting. Lead by Morris’ expressive vocal range and twanging guitar, the songs bask in washes of reverb and cymbals interspersed with tender, plaintive moments. By looking inward from the blossoming success of Genders, Morris is able to explore the more personal nature of songwriting and establish more of a pop sensibility.

Other rad Portland acts definitely worth catching at Treefort: And And And, Chanti Darling, Divers, Fog Father, Genders, Helvetia, Jackson Boone & The Ocean Ghosts, Mimicking Birds, MY BODY, and Talkative


Now an annual tradition, Rigsketball is a 3 on 3 basketball tournament between members of the music community. Played on a regulation height hoop bolted to the back of would-be punk rock mayor Bim Ditson’s van, matches have taken place at events like PDX Pop Now and Treefort Music Festival. Playing through the brackets as bands compete, it’s always more about camaraderie and having fun than strict rules and calling every foul. Last year, at Treefort ‘15, Bridgetown Creative put together an overview of the culture-bending/sport phenomena, featuring music by some of the competing bands, an interview with Ditson, and plenty of slow-mo swishing (and airballs). This year’s iteration is sure to intensify as new competition arrives, old feuds revive, and the term “bumper dunk” becomes part of the local lexicon.

Band Dialogue

What started as an experiment by Akron/Family’s Seth Olinsky continues this year on an ever-expanding scale. Now in its fifth iteration, Band Dialogue is equal parts rock orchestra, jam band and sonic tapestry. With last year’s Treefort installment featuring twelve official bands (including the likes of Sama Dams), the sheer immensity of the production was something to behold. Blocking off Grove St. and filling the surrounding blocks with sound, the result was so much more solid and cohesive than you would think forty guitarists, bassists, drummers and other musicians playing at once would sound. Bridgetown Creative got in there and captured the rapture, but if you want to know what it’s truly like, you’re going to need to attend for yourself this year.

Comedy Fort Highlights

This year’s ComedyFort once again brings some of the best acts from Boise and the Pacific Northwest to Treefort. Hosted nightly at downtown’s Liquid Lounge, this selection of comedians is sure to be worth your while. Here are a couple of our top picks:

Andie Main

Portland mainstay and host of Curious Comedy Theater’s weekly open mic, Andie Main is a self-proclaimed “punk rock librarian”, and loves nothing more than looking for kittens and yelling about the patriarchy. She’s used her comedy as an activist tool, and frequently speaks out about injustices in the world and the plight of female comics. She’s performed as part of Keep it Like a Secret, Bumbershoot and Treefort in the past, and by the time you catch your breath you’ll realize that everything she’s said is really common sense.

Joshua Chambers

With a down to earth vibe and a self-effacing delivery, Joshua Chambers delves into the minutiae of the everyday by over-analyzing each awkward Safeway transaction and parental malfunction in hilarious detail. As one half of the Ballard Boyz comedy team in Seattle, he regularly hosts other comedians and has participated in Sketchfest. Not a strictly observational comic, Chambers looks forward to a better future for everyone when he calls for the return of Will Smith’s movie themes and shares his decidedly illustrious personal narratives.

The Noise & Color PDX team will be out at Treefort 2016 in the thick of it, and we’re always pumped to take your suggestions for acts we can’t miss, shows we must see, beers we must chug, etc, etc. Make sure to say hi and tell us if we’re getting too sunburned. See you in Boise, or, enjoy our festival coverage from home.