This New Doc Begs the Question: Is Treefort 'The Coachella of Small-Town America'?


  • Courtesy POPeye Media
Beyond being a multi-day romp across downtown, Treefort Music Fest poses pestering existential questions about the City of Trees—about its status as a city in the West, and particularly the robustness of its music scene. In a short documentary released June 26, at least a few attendees have gone so far as to describe the festival as "The Coachella of Small-Town America."

"We had a group of four people who went. They lived in Boise for half a week. They were able to cover a lot of the festival and what was going on around the festival," said Edward Chao, who manages artists and repertoire for POPeye Media, which cut the video. "I think what they got out of the experience was this scene that was just  growing. I think they got caught up in the middle of something that's just being birthed right now."

The title refers to, of course, the massive California music festival, but the documentary lets Boise speak for itself. The tonal influences of music-heavy cities like Nashville and Seattle are felt, but landmarks like the Treefort Main Stage, DK Donuts, the Foothills and the Boise River are practically characters in themselves.

"The Coachella of Small-Town America" is peppered with facts about Boise—its size, the growth of its tech industry—but that's window dressing for scenes of downtown before and during the festival, where the POPeye team captured some of its more raucous, colorful and intimate moments. The crew conducted interviews with artists and residents, and  the doc includes news footage of Mayor Dave Bieter discussing the Boise Kind initiative in front of affordable housing protesters.

Chao said Boise surprised the POPeye team with the strength of its musical culture; normally, he said, "when you think about music scenes, you think about L.A., New York;" and Boise would have flown under POPeye's radar.

"Part of POPeye's mission statement is too explore niche cultures," he said. "When we heard about this festival, we saw these A-list headliners—these people who play Lalapalooza and Coachella, and they're popping up in Boise."