The music lineup for Treefort Music Fest 2015, set for Wednesday, March 25-Sunday, March 29, includes some of the biggest names in the festival's four-year history, including art-rock quartet TV on the Radio; Duluth, Minn.-based progressive bluegrass band Trampled By Turtles; Toronto jazz-hip-hop trio Badbadnotgood; and one of Idaho's favorite sons, songwriter-novelist Josh Ritter. This year will also see the return of past Treefort standouts like Of Montreal, YACHT, Rubblebucket, Emily Wells and The Soft White Sixties.
One of the biggest joys of Treefort, though, comes from stumbling across a great band or performer you've never heard of. Some pass-holders may be daunted by the prospect of navigating this year's more than 400 scheduled acts and, with this in mind, Boise Weekly combed through the schedule to find a handful of outstanding, albeit below-the-radar, artists.
Tucked away at the end of Crazy Horse's Sunday schedule, this Olympia, Wash.-based prog-rock band features Justin Trosper and Brandt Sandeno of '90s post-hardcore group Unwound, whose angular tempos and abrasive guitar noise earned comparisons to Fugazi and Sonic Youth.
Unwound's debut album Fake Train (1993) was renowned indie label Kill Rock Stars' first full-length release. Survival Knife released its debut album Loose Power on Fat Possum Records in 2014, and Pitchfork's Jason Heller observed that it represented "a fascinating new way forward: one that mangles then mingles [Trosper's] punk and classic-rock influences while melodically subverting his own accomplishments in Unwound." (Crazy Horse, Monday, March 30, midnight)
Jason Webley once called himself an "unknown hairy guy who plays the accordion." Considering he said this during a TED 2014 performance, it brings into question just how unknown he is. In fact, quite a few people are familiar this quirky, Seattle-based folk-punk musician who has collaborated with Amanda Palmer and The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, among others. While Neil Gaiman called Webley's album The Cost of Living (2008) "happy-sad in a load of good ways," Dr. Demento praised EP Eleven Saints (2006) as "incredibly infectious and uplifting." Someone who gets praise like this is worth getting to know. (Reef, Thursday, March 26, 11 p.m.)
Paul isn't unknown either, at least to Boiseans—he has performed with local groups and played his own blend of jazz, blues, country, pop and folk for years. Because of that, his talent may sometimes be overlooked or taken for granted. During Treefort 2015, that should prove more difficult: Paul will join other musicians in a tribute to the late Paul Revere (El Korah, Wednesday, March 25, 7 p.m.), he will co-moderate a Storyfort panel on the history of rock in Boise (Linen Building, March 26, 3 p.m.) and he'll also perform a solo set (The Bouquet, Friday, March 27, 7 p.m.)
Not many people saw this Italian experimental duo's Radio Boise Tuesday set at Neurolux last June. That was unfortunate, though this group's cacophonous percussion, eerie drones and demented vocals are admittedly not for all tastes. Still, Father Murphy's fans include Julian Cope, who declared in his "Address Drudion" blog that "this Italian bunch inhabit an extravagant and rich musical landscape indeed."
If you're up for a mix of Throbbing Gristle and Dario Argento, check out this group on Friday. (Linen Building, March 27, 7 p.m.)
When most people think of K Records—best known for putting out albums by acts like Kimya Dawson, Mirah and Built to Spill—hip-hop probably doesn't come to mind. AYFF, a collective of Northwest rappers and DJ, including Treefort 2015 acts Dark Time Sunshine and The Chicharones, challenged itself last year to make an album almost entirely comprised of samples from K-released songs. Treefort-goers will get to hear how skillfully this group rose to the occasion. (The Shredder, Sunday, March 29, 10 p.m.)
In a way, it feels appropriate that Screen Door Porch will play Treefort this year. While the festival calls attention to music in Boise, the Wyoming alt-country band's lead singer, Seadar Rose, created the WYOmericana Caravan tour in order to shine a light on musicians in that state. SDP performing at Pengilly's is doubly fitting: A June 2013 New York Times feature on the Caravan opens after the band has finished a set at the Boise landmark. Hopefully, a fistfight won't interrupt SDP's mix of blues-rock and folk-country this time around. (Pengilly's Saloon, Saturday, March 28, 8 p.m.)
With her enticing beats, ominous tunes and low, intimate vocals, electro-pop artist Karen Havey (aka Hey V Kay) is one of the Boise music scene's best-kept secrets.
Her musical savvy extends to her elegantly crafted originals as well as her shrewd covers—Havey's past live sets have included moody, stunning renditions of Britney Spears's "Toxic," Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams" and Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." (Hannah's, Saturday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.)