Treefort 2019 Bands to See – Round 1

Well, a couple of weeks ago we got word of the first ~70 bands for the 8th year of this Boise beast, and while the list was short on star power it did pack a surprisingly good haul.

One of my favorite things about Treefort is the joy of experiencing new music, and this iteration was no exception.  A typical TF has about 350-400 bands, so we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg, but here is a list of acts I am going to try to catch after doing a little research.  Hey, the festival may be three months away, but its freezing cold outside right now so we can dream of March for a few minutes, right?

The music nerd I am, yes indeed, I did listen to music from every one of these 68 groups.  Now, for some of them that was a “one song and done” situation, while for others I am still in the process of combing through entire discographies.  Around ten of these I was already familiar with, but the rest I discovered anew in the last couple of weeks.

For the full batch, go to


Here is a list of bands that I recommend catching at Treefort VIII, based on the first release of 68 alone, in order of my excitement (sort of).  Spoiler alert: as more bands are announced there will be multiple follow-up posts from yours truly culminating in the release of my planned itinerary for the 5-day fest.  If anyone is stalking me, well, that would be the time to launch your attack, as I will pretty much tell you where I will be hour by hour for five days.  So, please don’t.  Like, really – that’s just not neighborly behavior.



Stephen McBean (guitar, vocals) is one of my musical heroes, and not just because of the ridiculous shredding and elaborate pedals he employs.  The man – and his bandmates – is not afraid to experiment and get a little weird.  See the Vancouver, BC group’s latest release, the excellent IV (their fourth record) for proof of what I mean.  From the elegant eight minute guitar and synth jam of “Mothers of the Sun” to the cavernous (spacy?) and mellow funk that is the nine minute “Space to Bakersfield”, and everything in between, this thing is a triumph.

Their most accessible records would be their eponymous debut (see “Druganaut” or “No Satisfaction”) or Wilderness Heart (“The Space of Your Mind” and “Buried by the Blues” are their most beautiful songs yet), but their biggest hit “Wucan” came from their sophomore effort.  Basically, each album is a gem in their own way – and no two are even close to alike.  I saw these folks at Neurolux in 2016 and have been patiently waiting for them to come back – they better be headlining a venue so that they can get plenty of time to play.

My Best of Black Mountain playlist:

Setlist from their 2016 Neurolux show:



This is another band I got to see recently (at The Olympic earlier this year) and can attest that the live show is as good as their fantastic debut record.  If you are not familiar with these guys, check them out – imagine a band sort of like The Lumineers but way less serious (and, of course, not quite as amazing).  Oh, I’m selling them short – this show is going to be a blast!  Side note: they seem to frequently cover Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”, which gets them many bonus points on my scorecard.

Setlist from their 2018 Olympic show:



Homeboy blew me away last year when I stumbled on his Treefort appearance having done very little due diligence on him.  This grungy yet funky guitar and drums only attack was a sight for sore ears and ended up being one of the ten coolest sets of the entire festival last year.  I am wicked glad he is back and now I can tell anyone who will listen to go see him.  His 2013 EP and 2014 LP are both fun listens, but don’t do the live performance justice.  If you want a sample, check out “Where the Wild Things Are” and the title track from No Recognize or “I Wanna Be Your Man” and the title track from Shake.



These guys are in the same “folk that actually rocks a bit” category as Mt. Joy, with a bit more of a polished/pop sound.  Although their catalogue is very limited it is enjoyable.  Should be a fun set, and a prime example of a band I didn’t know existed three weeks ago and now look forward to seeing.



I’m not sure if this should be called experimental rock, noise pop, or a sonic art project– but I like it.  These two used to be an item, now they aren’t, but thankfully they are still making music.  Their new album Sun Machine is quite fun and I am enjoying digging through their older stuff.  When the horns start blaring I predict the entire crowd will be dancing like mad.



If you are a fan of mellow and pretty music with heart and soul (not to mention mandolin and banjo), you should give them a listen.  “Wildfire” is beautiful, as is the countrified “Hard Travelin’”; and their cover of Greg Isakov’s “Amsterdam” is a treat as well.



The legendary R.L Burnside’s musical impact on his grandson is obvious from first listen. The Mississippi native is a genuine bluesman and is touring in support of his very worthwhile new record Benton County Relic.  If you like guitar blues, and want to see the real deal in person, don’t miss this one.



Sarah’s voice has tons of twang and her songwriting is a refreshing dose of in your face honesty. This is fun country music with just enough rock to, well, rock.  Check out their latest album Years, particularly “New Ways To Fail”, “The Bottle Never Lets Me Down”, and “Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t”.



These kids are goofy and try pretty hard to not play it straight, and while some of it succeeds in being throwaway, a fair amount shows some real ability.  I look forward to seeing what these stoner-rock/punk guys have for us.  Check out “Everybody Thinks They Know” or the title track from their debut album SLUFF.  Even better is the angsty and confused ballad “Shredded Again”.


This post has gone on pretty long already… so here are some others that I plan to check out.

The Muckers – saw them last year at TF, enjoyed their live act.  Super young kids, that was their first time out west.  A year later, they are coming back.  Definite 70s rock vibe.

The Suffers

Summer Cannibals





Joshy Soul