5 things to know when Treefort Music Fest rocks Boise: Bands, beers, COVID tests

Sep. 17—There’s no right or wrong way to do Treefort Music Fest.

You can curate a long list of bands, then scurry about hoping to catch them all Sept. 22-26. Or you can wander randomly downtown, letting your eyes and ears guide you.

Bu there is one thing you need to succeed this year.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Or proof of a negative test within the past 48 yours. Those are required to attend any Treefort event. It’s the biggest change about the annual festival, which went on hiatus in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But it’s not the only change. Here’s a refresher course — and a few tips — to make your experience smooth.

Outdoors-only? Yep, ‘feasible.’

Rocking under an open sky always is a huge part of Treefort, thanks to the outdoor main stage at 12th and Grove streets. But Treefort is taking things to a new level.

“If people want to do an outdoor Treefort, it’s going to be a lot more feasible this year,” festival director Eric Gilbert says.

The main stage will host bands for the entire five days instead of the normal four. And there are several other outdoor venues: The Hideout, 1114 W. Front St (in the Woodland Empire Ale Craft parking lot); Lost Grove Brewing, 1026 S. La Pointe St.; Kin, 999 W. Main St.; and Radioland, 11th and Grove streets.

During the weekend, there also will be free, “second chance” shows outdoors at unofficial Treefort venue: Hops & Bottles, 1420 W. Grove St., and Skatefort at Rhodes Skate Park, 1555 W. Front St.

Tip: If you download the Treefort app, you can filter results to exclusively outdoor venues.

Bottom line? Even if you choose never to set foot indoors at Treefort, “you can still get the bounce-around experience,” Gilbert says.

And if you are comfortable indoors? There are a total of 25 official venues, indoors and outdoors, at Treefort. (Half are all-ages.) New indoor venues include Mad Swede Brew Hall, 816 W. Bannock St.; Western Proper, 610 W. Idaho St.; and The Sanctuary, inside Boise Presbyterian Church at 1185 W. Grove St.

3 shows not to miss

With nearly 400 acts performing, want to make sure you don’t miss the obvious?

Here are three bands certain to have Boise talking.

— Lake Street Dive (8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22, main stage): Formed in 2004 by students at the New England Conservatory of Music, jazzy Lake Street Dive is known for its powerhouse vocalist, Rachael Price, and high-energy live performances.

— Japanese Breakfast (8:40 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, main stage): Since releasing its debut album in 2016, indie-rock band Japanese Breakfast has become a critics’ favorite. Korean-American bandleader Michelle Zauner is an artist of many talents: Musician, director, author. In addition to performing with Japanese Breakfast, she’ll read from her 2021 memoir, “Crying in H Mart,” at 1 p.m. Sept 23 in Cherie Buckner-Webb Park.

— Mdou Moctar (midnight, Thursday, Sept. 23, El Korah Shrine): If you love electric guitar, don’t miss this one. A Tuareg musician based in Agadez, Niger, Moctar is a shredder. But not in a typical guitar hero way. Moctar uncorks a fire-breathing psychedelic rock in takamba and assouf styles. In 2021, Pitchfork bestowed a Best New Music label on Moctar’s fifth album, “Afrique Victime,” rating it 8.4 out of 10.

A la carte forts

Treefort is known for its multicultural mini-forts. Some are free. And when they’re not, you can buy walk-up tickets.

Quick notes:

— Alefort, the beer festival across from the main stage, will include wine for the first time. It’s free to enter. You buy drink tokens.

— Foodfort’s presence at Alefort will be minimal compared to recent years. However, there are ticketed Foodfort dinners Sept. 22 and 23.

— Dragfort will be at The Balcony Club, 150 N. 8th St. It’s 21 and older and costs $10 — or included with a Treefort pass.

— Comedyfort is no longer at Liquid. It will be on the second floor of the Owhyee, 1109 W. Main St. It’s free.

— Filmfort, Yogafort and Hackfort will do walk-up sales, but also are included with a Treefort pass.

— Storyfort, Artfort and Skatefort are free.

The COVID stuff

The box office and pre-check hub will be near the main stage on 12th Street between Main and Grove streets.

Treefort pre-check is where festivalgoers must go first. They will filter into three lines.

If you have proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within the past 48 hours — and you have it set up on the free Bindle health app — you’ll be in the fastest line.

If you have proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within the past 48 hours — and you can show paperwork or a photo of it — you’ll be in the second fastest line.

Got neither? Prepare to wait. You will be given a health screening, including a rapid antigen test. It’s free, but results normally take about 15 minutes.

After proceeding through pre-check, you will proceed to the box office to pick up your wristband.

You only have to complete pre-check once for Treefort. Children 12 and under don’t have to go through pre-check, but they must wear a mask at indoor venues.

Treefort is asking all festivalgoers to wear masks at indoor shows when not eating and drinking. And some artists will require masks at their shows. That information is specified on the Treefort app.

“We’re asking everyone to have a mask on them at all times,” Gilbert said.

Tickets, prices — sellout in advance?

Treefort wristbands are being sold in advance only this year — with the exception of main stage passes — at treefortmusicfest.com. Five-day wristbands cost $250, Zipline passes are $420, and U21 passes are $150. Children 12 and younger are free, accompanied by an adult with a pass. You also can buy single-day passes for $100, and single-day main stage passes for $50.

To be clear: Unlike prior years, there will be no wristbands available during the festival — except for the main stage.

Nor will they be sold for individual venues, as in past years. “It’s a wristband-only festival this year,” Gilbert said, “and that’s in large part because we’re going to be doing proof of vaccination and proof of negative test and managing that.”

Treefort has put a limit on crowd sizes because of the pandemic, so be aware: It could sell out. Single-day passes are on pace to sell out before the festival starts.

“We committed a while ago to limiting our capacity this year, and we’re getting really close to that,” Gilbert said.

The good news? That means this year’s festivalgoers probably won’t be waiting around as much. “Theoretically, there will be less lines for indoor spaces,” Gilbert said.

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