It’s the Window Walk on First Thursday that, for me, annually launches Treefort where muralists and downtown businesses combine forces to offer Boiseans a street gallery throughout the month of March. This year Treefort partnered with 30+ artists to ramp up the Treefort spirit and get the party started.
Treefort does an open call and application process for muralists who submit their portfolios so that the organizers of Artfort can glean a general sense of their style. Once selected, they are then paired with a venue. Then it’s up to the artist and the venue to decide on the content of the mural. For Treefort 10, Walter Gerald was paired with Barbarian and for Treefort 11, along with Quincee Lark, Gerald provided the window work for the Bus Station, one of Treefort’s newest music venues.
Walter Gerald is an animator and illustrator based in Boise, Idaho. Credits for his formal education go to The University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, The School of Motion, and Youtube University. When not immersed in the next great visual storytelling adventure, he enjoys cycling, drinking wine on patios and the consumption of baked goods.
When I spoke to Gerald last year regarding his weird western offering, he commented: “As far as the content of my murals go, they are loosely inspired by vintage western and dinosaur adventure pulps and comics. They tie back to a sense of adventure and place, being out here in the (somewhat) American West in a different form than what we know it as today.
"Another part of the art deals with how the ideal of the American West has changed over time. In a lot of these older comics, cowboys were portrayed as hero conquerors, taming wild lands and wildlife, defeating the bad guys and winning the affection of cowgirls along the way. I think we all know by now that this narrative is all fiction and brings up and largely ignores a lot of complicated history that comes along with the real story behind a lot of these comics- Mistreatment and massacre of Native Americans, misogynistic portrayals of women, just to name a few.
“It was my aim in this art to take the cowboy characters out of their original hero context, placing them with dinosaurs to show that they are both items of pure fantasy and entertainment. Yes cowboys and dinosaurs were real, but the media's portrayal of them both are very similar. Anyway, I still have a lot of learning to do as a citizen of the west, and i hope to keep doing so through my artwork.”
For Treefort 11, Gerald and collaborator Lark have taken the ghostly reminder of the Greyhound Bus Station, pushed it through a time vortex, and emerged with images of a multi-eyed bus driver advising passengers to hold onto their hats as he cruises through the Treefort experience. This speaks to Treefort’s expanding vision, which matches its expanding range. I can no longer talk about the Treefort “village”; it’s Treefort City from hereon in, baby!!
With 500+ musical acts scheduled for Treefort 11, the task of shaping an itinerary of what I’m hoping to catch at this year’s edition has been a bit overwhelming; but, here are ten acts I’m looking forward to hearing for the first time.
BITTERMINT—Bittermint is a homegrown indie rock act from Boise, Idaho who got their start making tongue-in-cheek “bits” in 2022, and quickly grew with their self-produced synth heavy guitar music. Their bit “I Locked Myself Out Of My Car” made me laugh outloud the first time I heard it at the same time it tore my heart open in familiar anguish. It will be interesting to see if the band will expand these “bits” in performance; “Lucky” being their only full-length track available to date.
Bittermint will be playing twice at Treefort, first on Saturday, March 25, 5:30pm at Pengilly's Saloon, then on Sunday, March 26, 5:10pm at KIN. I was intending to catch them at KIN, but with the weather predicted to be in the 40s throughout the run of Treefort, the notion of an warmer indoor venue at Pengilly’s is becoming more and more attractive.
CAL IN RED—Cal in Red is an indie pop/rock project started by brothers Connor and Kendall Wright out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The band is named after their youngest brother Cal, who at one point had a particular fascination with red t-shirts. The band formed in the summer of 2019. The music was hazy and summery, jangly and guitar driven. The yearning, hopeful tones of these early sessions morphed into an indie-pop scape on their 2021 debut EP "Cellular" (B3SCI Records). After touring in spring of 2022 (which included a stop at Treefort Music Fest), the brothers spent the better part of the year playing shows around Grand Rapids and recording their second EP. This 6 song sophomore effort titled "On the Dance Floor" is due out early 2023 on B3SCI Records. It explores anxiety, camaraderie, the aspirations of the young band as they sonically open the door a bit wider.
I’m genuinely happy to become Cal In Red’s 1000th YouTube subscriber. They’re playing twice at Treefort, first on Thursday, March 23, at Old School; then Friday, March 24, 6:00 at Camp Modern.
FUTURE CRIB—A five-piece band of creatives based in Nashville, Tennessee, Future Crib delivers dynamic performances that bounce between poppy make-you-wanna-dance tunes and experimental yet engaging tracks that prod at life’s shared realities. There’s a clear preference for good songs and exciting sounds over genre bounds and expectations, and this is evident on their album, “Full Time Smile", released in September 2021. Over all, Future Crib creates music for everyone, inviting all to a fun, welcoming show where you can feel free to get down.
Future Crib is playing twice at Treefort. First on Friday, March 24, 9:10pm at KIN; then on Sunday, March 26, 1:10pm at Bandshell.
KAINA—KAINA creates generational music that surpasses borders, a unified expression of her native Chicago, and her Venezuelan and Guatemalan heritage. Her newest album “It Was A Home”, released through the independent label City Slang, explores themes of community and self-reflection while pushing the production and songwriting to a new level. You can see this on a full, colorful display in her NPR Tiny Desk, in which KAINA is surrounded by the musicians, illustrators, friends, and family who had a hand in the production of the album. “It Was A Home” is a celebration of togetherness, and collaboration while also being a project that is intended to feel like you're talking with your best friend. Her warm and inviting brand of cultural fusion was initially illustrated on her 2019 debut full-length album “Next To The Sun”—a project that established her as a leader in a movement of artists whose work hinges on identity and representation. While promoting this record, KAINA went on national tours with artists from Sleater-Kinney and Cuco to Durand Jones and the Indications, effortlessly finding a home in front of adoring and diverse audiences. From her debut EP, 2016’s “sweet asl.” to “It Was A Home”, KAINA has continued to push this narrative through her brand of sweet-hearted optimism, which she uses to uplift and build community. Over the years, she has crafted a sound that is gentle, yet full of intent, and built a songwriting practice that explores love, legacy, and ancestry.
KAINA’s sultry voice will be on loving display on Saturday, March 25, 9:40pm at the Basque Center.
KEO & THEM—The enigmatic nature of Wichita, Kansas’ Keo & Them doesn’t end with the band’s name, it runs deep into the soul of everything the group does. Formed in 2018 by Keo, the collective features a revolving cast of players who, one way or another leave an indelible mark. “It’s one of the contradictions of the band,” says Keo, “I’m the constant but everybody who comes through adds something, some dimension that gives me room to explore different areas.”
Keo & Them plays twice at Treefort; first on Thursday, March 23, 8:40pm at The District, then on Saturday, March 25, 4:20pm at KIN.
KROOKED KINGS—Krooked Kings come from humble beginnings. In 2019, a group of five college friends from the University of Utah came together to write music and play shows in backyards and basements. Over the course of the last few years, the band has proven time and again their ability to write heartfelt indie rock gems. After signing with Los Angeles based indie label Nobody Gets It Records in 2020, the band released their breakout single, “‘96 Subaru”, which has amassed over three million streams. By September 23, 2021, Krooked Kings released their debut project, “The Comedown”. After the release, Krooked Kings hit the road on two support tours with Goth Babe and Rare Americans, as well as three headline dates in Denver, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles. Keep an eye out for new music from Krooked Kings in the coming months, as they wrap up recording their sophomore record.
Krooked Kings plays Treefort on Sunday, March 26, 7:30pm at The Hideout.
MODEL/ACTRIZ—Out of Brooklyn, New York, Model/Actriz is Cole Haden (vocals), Jack Wetmore (guitar), Ruben Radlauer (drums), and Aaron Shapiro (bass). Together, the band performs an intensity in their work that resembles a rubber ball approaching vibrational frequency bouncing between the points of extremes: joy and violence, humor and nihilism, flirtation and effacement. Model/Actriz is a special conjuring of gray areas without a whiff of indecision, with their newest project arriving early 2023.
Model / Actriz will intensify us at Treefort on Sunday, March 26, 9:10pm at the Hound Lot (Bus Station).
WE DON’T RIDE LLAMAS—Generation Z siblings, big brother, Chase (lead guitar), and sisters, Max (lead vocals), Blake (drums), and Kit Mitchell (bass guitar), make up the Austin-based band, We Don’t Ride Llamas (WDRL). Avid readers, self-professed nerds, lovers of sci-fi, anime, fashion, and nearly every musical genre from punk to funk, the members of WDRL cannot resist any good story well told, especially those set to an engaging melody. Having coined the term “shillelagh music” to describe the variety of musical genres they embrace, WDRL sings original songs they’ve written themselves as well as covers of some of their favorite musicians, ranging from Icelandic born Of Monsters and Men to legendary American greats, Nirvana & Stevie Wonder. The quartet finds a great deal of their inspiration from the careers and projects of seasoned performers Kali Uchis, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Hiatus Coyote, and Lenny Kravitz, all of with whom they hope to one day go on tour.
We Don’t Ride Llamas plays twice at Treefort, first on Saturday, March 25, 8:10pm at The Hideout, then on Sunday, March 26, 8:50pm at the El Korah Shrine.
JANE WEAVER—Abusing, evading and obliterating 20 years of whimsical pop trends, Jane Weaver’s experience as a truly independent and resilient female experimental songwriter/sound-carrier commands respect and inspiration in equal measures. From teenage Liverpudlian shoe-gazer to conceptual-pop mistress, has seen her graze with pocket-punk, Synth-pop, acid folk, indie-schmindie, dark-ambient drones, Hollywood soundtracks and girl-group psych.
Jane Weaver has a one-off Treefort performance on Saturday, March 25, 10:10pm at The Neurolux.
YOU SAID STRANGE—You Said Strange come from the north-western region of Normandy in France, although if it was up to them they’d come from the States, somewhere between Texas and Cali. They’ve been growing their own Norman-spiced definition of psychedelia for a few years now, making their way on a historically busy road. Having just signed to Fuzz Club, You Said Strange are gearing up for the release of their debut full length, “Salvation Prayer”, out June 8th. When they’re not busy organizing the annual Rock In The Barn festival, which hosts a broad range of acts from the international alternative scene, the four members of the band work on their sound that was born on the school benches. What followed was the inevitable: rehearsals, gigs, festivals, tours, Bandcamp sales and, eventually, record pressings. All the people from the scene that they met on their way, from Poland to the Lisbon Psych Fest, through North London clubs and mythic Paris venues, seems to have had a major impact on the building of the band. That’s how, after a first EP recorded with Black Market Karma in London, they ended up supporting The Dandy Warhols on their French 2015 tour. A strong friendship was born out of this tour which led them to fly over to Portland, USA, to record the band’s first album with the Dandys' guitar player Peter G Holmström—something he had never done for anybody else but the Dandys. This first full-length is a concoction of heady riffs, haunting melodies and bright rhythms, half-way between 90s shoegaze and 60’s psychedelia. The album touches on the theme of belief, the kind that affects even the most Cartesian spirit; may it be superficial, spiritual, superstitious, religious or moral. This very-human interpretation of reality is meant to help those who seek to free themselves, dream or flee, and that’s what the band is all about. [Courtesy of Nicolas Jarzynski.]
You Said Strange plays twice at Treefort, first on Friday, March 24, 7:50pm at the Hound Lot (Bus Station), then on Saturday, March 25, 6:40pm at the Neurolux.