Relocated and ‘different,’ Treefort aims for record crowd. Here’s what to know, Boise
When Treefort Music Fest cranks the amps this week, it will signal a new beginning.
The 11th iteration of the festival will involve a first. Reshuffling after a decade, the heart of Treefort has been moved to Julia Davis Park, 700 S. Capitol Blvd. Treefort’s longtime hub at 12th and Grove streets is being turned into apartments, forcing the Main Stage, Alefort and other familiar sights to head east.
The change hasn’t fazed festivalgoers. “We’ve sold more tickets than we ever have at this point,” said Eric Gilbert, Treefort’s co-founder and talent buyer. “It looks like it’s going to be a record year for us.”
If you’re accustomed to the old Treefort, “it’s gonna feel different,” Gilbert said. “But I think there’s going to be a lot of familiarity to it. The landscape is shifting; it’s not really shifting that far. I think in a lot of ways, it’s going to be a net positive.”
More than 500 acts are scheduled to perform Wednesday through Sunday — at an array of downtown Boise venues. Fans will need to exercise a little patience while learning how to navigate the reconfigured map.
Here’s are tips to help guide you through the new-look Treefort.
Welcome to the park
Overall, there will be three significant music venues at Julia Davis Park: The Main Stage, the secondary Hideout Stage and the free Gene Harris Bandshell.
Alefort and Kidfort also are in the park. So is the Wristband Pickup Booth. (Note: No wristbands will be sold at the park. You have to buy those from the Treefort website, at Treefort Music Hall, 722 W. Broad St., at JD’s Bodega, 161 N. Capitol Blvd., or at Bodega Boise, 1007 W. Main St.
Being in a park? “I do think it’s more family-friendly,” Gilbert said. Plus, festivalgoers will stand and dance on soft, green grass instead of pavement or asphalt. That’s a bonus for tired feet.
Drinkers will have more freedom, too. If you bought a cold beer inside Alefort, you can walk out with it and cruise over to the Main Stage. Or vice-versa. That wasn’t the case in prior years. “It’s all one alcohol perimeter,” Gilbert explained. “So it’s going to be a little more free-flowing that way.”
By the way, Zoo Boise will be open — and if you have a Treefort wristband, you get half off your zoo admission.
So much free stuff
If you haven’t purchased a Treefort pass, there are still tons of bands to see.
“You can still come and hang out on the other side of the park,” Gilbert said. “There’s going to be great bands on the (Gene Harris) Bandshell. And Kidfort and Alefort is there, and there’s Alefort Lounge, which will mostly be DJs and stuff. So there’s just kind of going to be a big hangout area.”
The free Bandshell will feature music until 10 p.m. — same as the Main Stage — all five days. (Except on Sunday, when both end music at 9 p.m.) And once it gets dark, the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show will create psychedelic visuals on the stage, on fans, on surrounding trees, “which is going to be cool,” Gilbert said.
Without a wristband, you still can attend Alefort, Artfort, Kidfort, Skatefort, Storyfort, Music Talks and Podfort. (Some events may require a cover charge or Fort Badge.)
Other free live music destinations include the new Cyclops Stage in the parking lot of Freak Alley Gallery near 9th and Bannock streets, plus Payette Brewing, Lost Grove Brewing, Boise Brewing and Camp Modern. Be aware that wristband holders will get priority if those venues reach capacity.
Many Treefort venues will allow fans to pay a cover charge on the spot — albeit in a “very limited” capacity, Gilbert said. Here are all the places allowing walk-up sales while supplies last: Main Stage, Treefort Music Hall, Bus Station (Hound Garage and Hound Lot), Neurolux, The Olympic, Reef, The Balcony Club, Spacebar Arcade, Pengilly’s Saloon and the Knitting Factory.
The distance has increased between Treefort’s Main Stage and the west end of the festival, which includes popular venues such as El Korah Shrine, Neurolux and others.
But you can handle this.
Being in Julia Davis Park, Treefort is bike-friendly. Ride if you can. There will be two bike-parking stations there.
Speaking of biking? Or walking? Or e-scooters? The Boise Greenbelt is your friend! You can take the Greenbelt from Julia Davis Park all the way to 11th Street — then pop out for a show at Neurolux or El Korah Shrine. “You could do that on a bike in 5 minutes,” Gilbert said.
Also, go from Julia Davis Park straight up Capitol Boulevard, Gilbert added, and you’re on a route to the new Treefort Music Hall. Or, with a jog east, to the free outdoor stage at Boise Brewing.
If you’re driving to Treefort, you can park at Brady Street Garage at Boise State for $5 per day. And you have until 10 a.m. the next day to exit.
Otherwise, you’ve always got the Treeline shuttle service from Valley Regional Transit. It’s free, whether you have a wristband or not. Two shuttle buses run from 6 p.m. to midnight Wednesday through Saturday. (Not on Sunday.) You’ll see highlighted bus stops around downtown.
And, yes, it goes to Julia Davis Park.
If it all feels like a bit much to take in — well, that’s Treefort. Like every year!
Gilbert is optimistic.
“I hope people give us some grace,” he said. “This is going to be a growing year. We’re going to learn some things.”