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Treefort Fest Brings Acts to Urban Setting

by Kelleigh Welch. The annual Treefort Music Fest, held throughout downtown Boise, Idaho in March, is about two things—independent music and the local community.

RJD2 performs on the main stage of the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, ID. Photo Courtesy of Treefort Music Fest
Boise, ID—The annual Treefort Music Fest, held throughout downtown Boise, Idaho in March, is about two things—independent music and the local community.

Back in 2011, Treefort’s director, Eric Gilbert, was looking for a way to bring more independent artists to Boise, especially national artists who hadn’t had Boise on their touring radar before. His vision was to create a multi-day festival that would welcome artists from all over the country, as well as introduce the larger music industry to the city’s local talents.

As a musician well-versed in the independent touring circuit, Gilbert tapped the talents of Lori Shadro to create a multi-venue festival similar to New York’s CMJ Music Festival or Austin’s South By Southwest. “I played in a touring band for the last seven years, as well as booked national tours, and I can really empathize with the western markets—it’s sort of hit or miss. A big part of the festival was establishing a market for touring bands and exposing them to the local music scene here,” explained Gilbert. “There’s a lot of music happening here in Boise, but traditionally not a lot of attention is drawn to this scene.”

Since the first festival launched in March 2012, Treefort has grown from a music festival to a celebration of the entire Boise community, bringing in local artisans, yoga instructors, food and craft vendors, comedians and more.

“This is a very community-oriented festival,” said Gilbert. “Our main focus was music, but over the last few years, people in other veins of the community have come to us looking to join in.”

For 2014, Gilbert and his production crew booked more than 350 different bands to perform over the five-day event. Among some of the performers for this year’s event included RJD2, Robert Koch, Dan Deacon, This Will Destroy You and more.

Crowds gather for Run The Jewels on the Main Stage. Photo Courtesy of Treefort Music Festival
“We’re pretty much all over the board when it comes to bands,” said Megan Stoll, Marketing Director for the Treefort Music Fest. “We try to book up-and-coming artists more than focusing on the huge headliners. Our purpose is to get people to learn more about this awesome music in a cool environment you don’t go to everyday.”

Comparing Treefort to the larger festivals across the country, Gilbert agreed, emphasizing his goal to offer smaller bands a chance to expose their music to a new market. For the festival, the majority of the bands play across ten existing indoor venues along Boise’s downtown, with the main acts performing on the main stage, creating a difficult challenge for Gilbert, who must coordinate the performances with multiple venue owners.

“It’s an urban festival, so we’re working with the land owners of private property, versus having the festival on a field where you are working with only one land owner,” Gilbert said. This can be both helpful and a challenge, but it also helps that many of the owners are already in the live event business and already have plans set in place to manage shows at their venues.

For the main stage, located in a parking lot near the downtown strip, Denver-based PSI Audio provided the staging, sound system and lighting for the main stage, along with two smaller venues within the downtown strip. Avid consoles and L-Acoustics loudspeakers ruled the day, with an Avid Venue Profile desk at FOH and a Venue SC48 in Monitorworld, while the house sound was presented by V-Dosc line arrays and bands heard themselves via 115XTs.

The stage itself was a Stageline Mobile Stage SL250, with a variety of Martin Mac lights, including 101s, 500s, 600, 2000s, Pixel Line 110s, all controlled by a Lighting Grand Ma2 lighting console. Crew for the main stage included Glenn Thornton (Production Manager), Jason Brohm (FOH Engineer), Richard Korte (Monitor Engineer) and Joe Casper (Lighting Engineer).

PSI also provided audio and lighting for the El Korah Shrine venue and the Linen Building. Gear at the El Korah included a Midas Heritage 3000 console, a Yamaha M7 desk, L-Acoustics dV-Dosc and FB218 loudspeakers, EAW FM200 wedges and Martin Mac 101 and 250 lights. At the Linen Building, PSI provided a Yamaha M7 console, and EAW KF8350s, FB850s and FM200s. FOH Engineer Jeremy Martin was in charge of the El Korah system, and engineer Corbin Hohstadt manned the system for the Linen Building.

As the festival takes place over multiple venues, bringing an estimated 7,000 people per day to see the nearly 360 bands perform, safety is a huge priority for the producers. Between working with local police and hiring its own security team for the main stage, the Treefort Music Fest also relies on the plans of local venues when it comes to safety and crowd control.

“For the main stage, we definitely hire our own security teams,” explained Stoll, “but a lot of the venues have been taking care of crowd control themselves, and are able to manage their own capacity.”

Treefort Music Fest