Saturday is the pinnacle of Treefort, with the most bands playing on a single day, so reporters Jeff and Keith C split up for the day to bring you some of the most rad shows that went down in Idaho over the weekend.
After catching an early house show with Portland’s Lee Corey Oswald we head out to the main stage for the start of day 3. To our great pleasure, Holiday Friends kicks off such a great day on the main stage with their crispy fresh blend of NW indie pop and rock. These guys embody an awesome contemporary electro and freak-folk infused rock aesthetic, but with a sincere keenness which appeals to all types of listeners. They play their 2011 hit “Astral Observations” which is an epic piece about crises and existence, unsure yet unconcerned. Formed at the University of Idaho, then relocated to Astoria, Holiday Friends are a testament to the quality and strength of Idaho’s grassroots music scene.
Mobbing over to the Crux, we catch Ugly Hussy in the middle of his multi-layered loop and jam routine, standing out from other one-man-and-a-pedal acts with a honed dimly lit post rock inspired sound. Whereas past and present Treefort acts such as Dustin Wong, Tartufi, and El Ten Eleven are creating pop and rock with looping effects, Ugly Hussy produces sludgy soundscapes viewed through a warped and dirty window. Carefree, almost joyous rhythms and rich distorted tones carry his music into the realm of the ethereal.
At Red Room, another monstrous band Ugly Winner represents the bomb 20 Sided Records, which includes such gems as Ash Reiter and Slow Trucks. UW’s material has strong malty Modest Mouse and filbert overtones with a pleasant Fugazi finish. Last year’s album Inside Your Wave contains a focused driving aesthetic which brings out the cosmic punk and indie elements of their awesome tunes.
Back at Crux, Lynne and Ben from Tartufi are playing an acoustic set with a group going by the moniker Houses of Light. This specially effectual four-piece stands tall and shines bright like the beacon on a signal tower, and floods the room with brilliance of the clerestory of a great cathedral. We’ll hook up a link to listen as soon as one becomes available, until then it’s up to you to get on them when they come to your town.
El Ten Eleven is sometimes mistakenly lumped in with other instrumental post-rock bands. These guys crank out more than three times the music with less than half the members of some comparable bands. With roots somewhere between 70’s krautrock and outer space, Kristian Dunn shreds up his vintage doubleneck simultaneously through live looping and delays while Tim Fogarty holds down the electric and acoustic drums and synthesizer. Their entire set is one spectacular wtf-moment, as the main stage crowd revels in the beautifully composed and seemingly impossible progressions of El Ten Eleven. Their 2012 release Transitions is a masterful complement to their existing oeuvre, and solidifies them as a huge force in contemporary experimental rock music.
Jeff quickly headed back over to the Crux to catch the end of Hang Time, a rad power pop-rock band from Salt Lake City. They were busting out some big tunes as the people started to pour into the Crux. It took hardly anytime for SW/MM/NG to set up on stage for their set. With their uptempo drum beats and catchy guitar licks the crowd was starting to dance along to guitar-pop of SW/MM/NG.
The day becomes night, and the night becomes a blur of awesome music. At El Korah Shrine, the much talked about Slam Dunk plays to a critical mass of electrified fans. These Boise guys are full of the essence of power pop and NW post-punk. So much fun live, they’re going on an epic tour this Spring with a handful of shows alongside Built to Spill, so be sure to investigate.
Much love is doled out to Portland favorite The We Shared Milk. Currently on tour with PDX party powerhouse And And And, these guys play a really funky brand of wailing blues rock with cool indie and weird uncanny elements. The quality of the music is high, and the crowd at the Red Room rocks in total submission to the groovy rock and roll of The We Shared Milk.
While TWSM was giving out the good vibes to the Red Room, First Borns started playing to an ever increasing number of post-punks. One of the up and coming local favorites, First Borns put on an excellent show. Full of fuzz and lovely guitar licks to the ears, this is a band that should be on your radar.
After First Borns was Gayze. The Crux was packed tight for this show of local Boise musicians. Three guitars, drums, bass, and keys makes up a huge garage rock sound that was delivered delightfully to the crowd. People were rocking out and the visuals were perfect for this partying band known as Gayze.
Sneaking up front at the at-capacity Neurolux, I chat with a reporter from the cool Seattle based music blog Inside Right Wrist before catching the always stunning Y La Bamba. Lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza switches back and forth between English and Spanish, perfectly complementing the latin inspired instrumentation. Y La Bamba has a wonderful subdued indie sensibility that attracts so many listeners that the entire venue is shoulder to shoulder, with an equally dense queue outside.
The true grandfathers of Boise’s indie rock scene, and one of the heavyweight groups to put post-nirvana NW indie rock on the US map, Built to Spill comes out for their second out of three shows. Last night they played their debut album Ultimate Alternative Wavers from beginning to end, right after legacy indie rockers Quasi here at El Korah Shrine. Tonight they bust out a crowd pleasing medley of greats, including “Carry The Zero,” “The Plan,” “Center of the Universe,” and “Stab.” An anomaly in the world of rock stars, Built to Spill has achieved great national success over the past two decades, yet remains true to their sound, their ethos, and their fans, seemingly impervious to the warping pressures of record labels and entertainment companies. For this, we thank them.
Back at Neurolux charmers Widowspeak plays to a packed audience. Originating in Tacoma Washington, Widowspeak has undergone drastic lineup changes and released two very well received full lengths in just three short years. They have a beautiful misty shoegaze sound, but is definitely something more tangible than the swirling plasma that is the music of My Bloody Valentine.
Now it’s late, we’re sorta drunk, and just want to head over to China Blue Lounge to get down to the Shlohmo live set. On record, Shlohmo unites instrumental hip hop, electro, and dubstep elements into a visionary blend of fresh 100% listenable tunage. His music exists on a separate plateau, towering over the earth below. The crowd moves and grooves entranced by Shlohmo’s signature slow, smooth yet downright filthy experimental music. The only damper was China Blue’s sound guy who felt it necessary to interrupt the set for reasons decidedly less important than the awesome show that was Shlohmo’s live set.
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