Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Treefort Wrap-up

Wow. Welcome, Boise, to the post-music-fest-hangover-and-letdown.

It's that feeling you get when something you've waited so long for, and worked so hard at, and played so hard in, comes to a close. So, it's just back to normal life now?

The first-ever Treefor Music Festival couldn't have come off better. 4 days of music and food and drink and post=hibernation limb-stretching and privates-scratching for this entire big little city. Shockingly, there just weren't any major problems. And all the little ones were things that either can be easily tweaked next year or always happen anyway. So, chapeau to the organizers. Y'all nailed that shit.

Thursday was maybe my biggest day. I drank the most beer, I saw consistently awesome shows, and everywhere I went, everyone I talked to, shared this feeling of barely-bridled excitement. Electricity. It was pretty awesome.

We--me, Cathy, and Theo--started out at the Record Exchange for the Ascetic Junkies' in-store. Theo thought it mostly "Loud!" but they had their moments of bliss through acoustic instruments and nice vocal harmonies. Then over to the KRBX studio to interview Head for the Hills on the air. I just missed Woodsman at the Lux, but caught Janka Nabaya, which was fun as well as a good signal that this would not be an ordinary weekend in Boise.

I stayed at the Lux for Delicate Steve, which I was really looking forward to and really enjoyed for about the first two songs. Then I didn't want to watch anymore. The strangely sincere retro-MTV wankings were just a little too Satriani for my liking. Great energy, though, onstage and in the room. So I headed over to the Linen Building for Pickwick, stopped to talk to a dozen or so fellow festivalgoers, and made it in time for almost a full song. From all reports, they were great.

Friday I went out on a limb. Sometimes it paid off, sometimes not so much.

First, during the afternoon I interviewed Brooklyn rapper K. Flay, which was awesome. Smart and upbeat and funny, she gave a good interview and we played a few songs. Good radio fun.

Music started at the Main Stage with Talkdemonic, from Portland, who were fantastic. Viola and keyboards + drums = epic and bruising chamber rock, plenty burly for the ginormous space of the Main Stage Compound. And then, out of nowhere, K. Flay. One of the best sets I saw during the festival, likely because it so exceeded any expectations I had. Her energy, her timing, her delivery, and her songs were all solid and then some.

Then a little of Desert Noises, a bunch of Sister Crayon--who were as awesomely swirly and weirdo as they seemed in the KRBX studio earlier--and a short bit of Monster Rally & RUMTUM, dual guitars and electronics with kickass ski and surf movies projected ovr them.

Why? at the Main Stage was the main event, and they turned in a good set, piecing together solid renditions of songs for the last 3 albums with a stripped-down arrangement characteristic of leader Yoni Wolf's live shows.

Back at the Linen Building, Matthewdavid was choppy beats and aggressive synth sounds, artistry bordering on assault, fascinating if a bit repelling. Sun Araw was spacey and slinky and more grabbily engaging than Matthewdavid, and nothing at all like The Soft White Sixties, who closed the Red Room. All bar band fist pumping boom swagger rock music, they played the crowd like a gold-top Les Paul, and we loved it.

I skipped the DJs and headed home, tired buzzed and happy to be wandering around Boise seeing bands all night. Amazing.

Saturday started a little late, with a cocktail at the Modern Hotel after friend Pat's birthday party. I had the Layover, which was amazing. I advise having one.

Then it was on to the Main Stage for Typhoon, a Portland indie orchestra somewhere between Rusted Root (not my comparison--but apt) and Los Campesinos! Missed Le Fleur at the Lux, but there was lots of catching up to be done with all our post-hibernation pals. And besides, Built to Spill was next.

And they were great. The intricacy of their guitar work, the swirling layers that propel every song and give them a sound all their own, make for great big-stage listening, and the Main Stage at Treefort--helmed by one John Betts--did them justice.

Then we scurried over to the Lux to catch EMA, who was fantastic and outsized and sounded as piercing and powerful as on record. The crowd tried hard to drown her out, but they failed, thank goodness. Then, I think, it was And And And before Teens pretty much tore down the Red Room to close the night out. They called everyone up on stage to party, and many took them up on it, going apeshit and having an effing ball. Good times.

Here's DJ Psycache having a ball in the dome outside the Linen Building:

Sunday, well, I'd had enough. I hung out with Theo and Cathy, did some stuff around the house, took a nap, went for a bike ride. It was nice even then, though, knowing there was another whole day of shows going on.

Next year.

Sausage and Ditka

How have I missed this? Check it, Chicago peeps.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Holy moly. What a weekend.

Full report coming, but I have to say, to write this I need to look at the schedule to remember all the flippin bands I saw, and the fact that I can't get to a schedule online or on my phone, and I can't find my Trail Guide or paper schedule, is all magnifying this strange feeling I have that the whole thing was a dream...

Friday, March 16, 2012

On Chugging the SXSW Haterade

Pardon the diatribe, but better here than in comments to the kajillion Facebutt postings I've been seeing. Because this is where I talk.

I don't understand all the grousing about SXSW and selling out and how great it used to be and all that crapola.

First of all, everything used to be better than it is now. And if you fall prey to this sort of speculation I think it says more about you than it does about the subject of your bitter nostalgia.

Here's a fact: SXSW has never been a nonprofit altruistic public service. It's a moneymaker for the Chronicle, the city of Austin, and many businesses therein (who often pay most of their year's bills with money made during this week), and it's a chance for lots of pasty hipster people to eat tacos and barbecue and drink tons of beer and see craploads of great bands.

And re: Springsteen and all the bitching about him taking up the spotlight? Cripes. Get the eff over it. I got to see Tom Waits there back when I was a resident and Chronicle writer, and I don't remember people bitching about him taking attention away from the starving artists. It was just a chance for a small number of incredibly lucky bastards to see him in a gorgeous theater late at night. Same thing with the Boss. Saying he's manufactured or a tool of the man is just plain stupid and uninformed. Mindless haterism at its mindlessest.

Now, this is not to say that it's not fun or good sport to slam SXSW. To a certain extent it keeps them honest. But there's a difference between poking fun while photo-oping the corporate takeover and thinking you've got SXSW and Austin's number--that number being the 666 to musical and artistic integrity and purity. That's just silliness.

Like life, like everything, SXSW is what you make of it, for bands, attendees, corpopig sponsors, day party hosts, homeless dudes making a killing, food trucks, everyone. It stopped being a place to get discovered nearly 2 decades ago. That's what the interwebs are for. That's what touring is for. SXSW is a big fat awesome party. And it's fun if you let it be. So get over the righteousness and enjoy it, or stay away and let the people who want to have fun have fun. Odds are you're just blocking their view.