Reef played host to a number of touring bands passing through Boise like ships in the night on May 24. Yeah Great Fine and Tartufi were on the their way to Ranchfest, while Hospitality and Here We Go Magic were on their way to Sasquatch. The show confirmed to me why Ranchfest is a better choice.
To be completely fair, I was already in a sour mood after arriving late and missing Yeah Great Fine, and then being relieved of my bag by a security guard enforcing a new Reef policy that bans backpacks and bags, but allows ladies to bring in giant purses. That meant endless trips back and forth to the front desk every time I needed anything from my bag.
Regardless, the fact that a band like Hospitality got booked at Sasquatch should be enough to call the entire festival's credibility into question. The hospitality it showed was akin to a Ramada Inn: neutral and featureless. The group played a full set of mumbled vocals over bland riffs with little rhythmic variance and and almost no rockability. The sound was as bland and white as Miracle Whip, like the the dullest of early '90s alt-rock.
Luckily, that changed as soon as Here We Go Magic played its first note, launching into an atmospheric opener with hints of early '80s post-punk. The band followed that song with a psychedelic indie take on the country shuffle.
While few of Here We Go Magic's tunes stuck out from a songwriting sense, each song had its own vibe going on. Many featured a single chord or riff as the song's spine, with ambiance layered on from slap delays on the guitars and punchy bits of bass.
Long crescendoing passages added dynamic flair to these one-note wonders, which was good because, in typical indie-rock fashion, the band wasn't putting much effort into its performance. It was a tossup over what the most exciting part of the stage show was: the singer's loud Hawaiian shirt or the bass player's short shorts.
Even though the songs at the end of the set got stronger—several of them dishing out a strong '80s vibe and a pounding beat—many of them sounded less like full songs than pieces of songs that had yet to be finished, which was disappointing because they sounded like really good starts.
And then came the mighty Tartufi, with its cacophony for the history books. "That's why I'm going to Ranchfest," I thought. Then I went back to the front desk to fetch my ear plugs.