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Ranch Fest Recap

Live Music Review

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It poured rain and misery down on Idaho music fans for nearly one-third of one of the most anticipated annual events: Ranch Fest, which was held May 25-27. The roads turned to mud and people wrapped themselves in trash bags, huddling around burn barrels and hoping for a case of dance fever to chase away the chill. The best solution for drying out included roasting in a sauna built on the Tumbleweeds homestead, where a wood-burning stove kept the log cabin-style room toasty.

But you'd have been hard-pressed to find a single bedraggled Boisean who wasn't having a great time.

Ranch Fest, the annual Finn Riggins invitational, hosted dozens of local and regional bands playing for two days and nights, barn dance-style. Attendees camped out and snacked on some wicked barbecue.

While the evenings were filled with drinking, dancing and a consistent stream of bands from Idaho and beyond, the mornings were slow-moving. The sun peeked over the hills well before 8 a.m., but the majority of ranchers weren't swilling the coffee--made in 100-cup batches---until almost noon. Breakfast items, including huge bushels of bananas, were served from folding tables next to an aging diesel Caterpillar tractor housed inside one chamber of a mammoth barn. Adjacent to that room was the Ranch Fest main stage, the backdrop a colorfully painted tribute to the annual festival.

This year, the festival also added a side stage on a trailer in the yard for Friday night's performances, helping to speed transitions between groups. But it had to be abandoned when the rain set in early Saturday morning.

There were some familiar faces like Finn Riggins, Le Fleur and the mighty Tartufi, along with some first-time ranchers like Mozam and Dedicated Servers, and even a new super-group: Lake Friend, which features members of Caldwell bands Art Fad and Fountains.

Top performance honors go to Portland, Ore.'s Yeah Great Fine, which delivered a powerhouse set of calypso-influenced synthpop in wide-brimmed Stetsons and '70s mustaches and kicked off a serious dance party, especially when keyboard player Brian Hoberg jumped into the crowd to pound on a drum at the foot of the stage.

The lack of the side stage slowed things down a bit, making sets run deep into Saturday night, even with the cancellation of one of the headliners, Old Death Whisper. In the waning hours of the festival, Boise space-rock band Mozam, aka Christopher Smith and Trevor Kamplain, drew the remaining zombies back into the barn for one last dance fest, which lasted until 3 a.m.

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