Treefort 2017: Branching Out 

Boise Weekly's picks for Treefort 2017

U.K. artist Kate Tempest (left) is an award winning poet who has opened for Billy Bragg; There is no Mountain (top right) brings its beguiling harmonies  from Portland, Ore.; and don’t be surprised if Lizzo (bottom right) ends up being one of the highlights of this year’s Treefort Music Fest.

Courtesy Artists

U.K. artist Kate Tempest (left) is an award winning poet who has opened for Billy Bragg; There is no Mountain (top right) brings its beguiling harmonies from Portland, Ore.; and don’t be surprised if Lizzo (bottom right) ends up being one of the highlights of this year’s Treefort Music Fest.

Each year, the Treefort Music Fest lineup seems to become more diverse and impressive. With high-profile headliners like acclaimed shoegaze-black metal group Deafheaven, eerie folk-country songstress Angel Olsen and slacker rock charmer Mac DeMarco, Treefort 2017 is no exception.

Just as we've done the past few years, Boise Weekly dug through the lineup for great artists that people may not know yet. Here are some of this year's lesser known must-sees.

Touring Artists

Lorna Dune (Boise All-Ages Movement Project, March 24, midnight/JUMP, March 26, 10:30 a.m.)

Lorna Krier (aka Lorna Dune) brings some serious musical chops to her spare, dreamy techno. A classically trained pianist, she has performed with revered minimalist composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass. You don't need an MFA to dig her music, though—her steady beats and waves of soothing synthesizer should be just the thing for Treefort-goers who need some chill time.

Jonathan Richman (Main Stage, March 25, 3:10 p.m.)

One could argue that most of the rock bands playing Treefort owe something to Jonathan Richman. Please Kill Me author Legs McNeil once called his 1970s group The Modern Lovers "perhaps the greatest alt-rock, pre-punk, indie band that no one has ever seen." Richman's songs have been covered by the likes of Joan Jett, The Sex Pistols and David Bowie. If you see him play the main stage on Saturday, expect to find a lot of musicians in the audience (including Mac DeMarco, who cited Richman as his role model in a 2012 Pitchfork article).

Lizzo (Main Stage, March 25, 7 p.m.)

Sassy, outspokenly feminist hip-hop artist Lizzo delivered a raucous opening set for Sleater-Kinney at the Knitting Factory in 2015. Last year, she gave a defiantly upbeat post-Election Day performance on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Don't be too surprised if her set turns out to be one of Treefort 2017's highlights.

There is No Mountain (The District, March 25, 9 p.m.)

This beguiling Portland, Ore., duo combines existential ruminations and quirky song structures with gorgeous harmonies and astonishingly fluid guitar playing. Yoga practitioners should also catch vocalist Kali Giaritta—whose doom metal yoga class received coverage from Portland's KATU News in 2016—at Yogafort.

Kate Tempest (Main Stage, March 26, 5:30 p.m.)

"I am large, I contain multitudes," Walt Whitman famously declared in "Song of Myself." Kate Tempest could say the same. The London-based poet-musician won the Ted Hughes Award for poetry in 2013 and has opened for folk-punk songwriter Billy Bragg, Afrobeat musician Femi Kuti and rapper Saul Williams. Her hip-hop concept album Let Them Eat Chaos (Lex, 2016) has earned good reviews from The Guardian and The New Yorker.

Ecstatic Vision (Neurolux, March 26, 9:30 p.m.)

This Philadelphia-based stoner rock group might be the only band in history (so far) to draw inspiration from krautrock, Hawkwind and Fela Kuti. You can hear these influences in Ecstatic Vision's spaced-out drones and hyperactive beats.

Local Artists

The Hand (Neurolux, March 22, 9 p.m.)

At the end of The Hand's Treefort 2013 set, Built to Spill leader Doug Martsch came onstage and played a few Treepeople songs with his old bandmate Scott Schmaljohn. That might not happen again, but Schmaljohn's raw guitar solos and the hard-driving rhythm section of James Johnson and Cody Roy should rock more than hard enough on their own.

Leafraker (El Korah, March 23, 8 p.m.)

With his cryptic lyrics and motor-mouthed flow, this burly Nampa rapper is one of the most surprising and fascinating local acts of recent years.

Elvice Mwenematale (Boise All-Ages Movement Project, March 24, 5 p.m.)

This Congolese transplant has kept a low profile over the past two years, but he gave a stunning performance at Treefort 2015. If Mwenematale's 2017 set has half the energy of his last one, it'll still be one of this year's best.

Aaron Brown and the Invasion (Olympic, March 24, 7 p.m.)

On one song, Aaron Brown and the Invasion could sound like Harry Nilsson or Leon Russell. On the next, they could sound like The Beatles. On the one after that, they could sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd. Whatever they play, their sly, goofy warm-heartedness will shine through.

Paper Gates (Boise Contemporary Theater, March 25, 5:30 p.m.)

Although he lives in Portland now, multi-instrumentalist Andy Rayborn (aka Paper Gates) lived in Boise for eight years and served as Sun Blood Stories' bassist and saxophone player. If you miss his experimental solo project, you might still see him around—he sat in with 10 different bands at Treefort 2014.

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