Lists

Six 2016 Treefort Music Festival artists you should know

RUMTUM performs on the final day of the Underground Music Showcase on July 21, 2013. Photos by Evan Semón, heyreverb.com.
RUMTUM performs on the final day of the Underground Music Showcase on July 21, 2013. Photos by Evan Semón, heyreverb.com.

There are three questions that weigh heavy on the mind of any festivalgoer: How do I get there? Where should I stay? And, who serves the best cheap pizza slice? But one thing festivarians always forget to ask is: What do the bands sound like?

At star-studded showcases like Coachella and Lollapalooza or even more homegrown affairs like Boise, Idaho’s Treefort Music Fest, most attendees won’t point their eyes and ears toward anything except big name acts they know and love. Seeing that the fifth annual Treefort Music Fest kicks off today (March 23-27) and will feature more than 400 bands, here’s a list of lesser known acts that you need to know about.

Related: Photos from Hi-Dive’s 2016 PreFort mini-festival

Jackson Boone & The Ocean Ghosts

Portland, Ore. songwriter Jackson Boone and his band, the Ocean Ghosts, go after your body and your mind. On his 2014 album “Natural Changes,” which was produced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Riley Geare, Boone mixes spacey psychedelic wanderings and airy pop melodies to achieve tiny spiritual revelations in every song while maintaining a thought-provoking depth of sound.

Recommended if you like: Devendra Barnhart, Grizzly Bear

Playing: March 23, 10:20 p.m. at The Olympic

Death Songs

It’s hard not to feel something when listening to the songs of Nicholas Delffs (aka Death Songs). The Portland, Ore. songwriter delivers delightful little pop tunes that are prime for hip-shaking, love-making and general rocking out. They even come complete with endearing messages about youth, age and relationships, as well as other ponderings on the human condition.

Recommended if you like:
Wilco, Harlem Shakes, Little Wings

Playing: March 24, 6 p.m. at Neurolux; 3:50 p.m. Saturday at Radio Boise Campfire Stage

Willis Earl Beal

Willis Earl Beal is a complicated soul. His aptitude for surprising sets probably stems from the fact that he’s embodied so many different people over the years. First, he was a homeless youth. Then, he was an enlisted army man. Later, he became a signed singer-songwriter living in New York City. Now, he’s holed himself away in upper Washington to create an expansive set of soulful yet experimental tunes that are far more listenable than they are definable.

Recommended if you like: Mount Eerie, Nina Simone, Tom Waits

Playing: March 25, 5:45 p.m. at Boise Contemporary Theater

Prawn

Take the sound of a sweeping post-rock band like Explosions in the Sky, dice it up, then sprinkle it into a big pot of early 2000s emo groups (e.g. Taking Back Sunday, Brand New) and you’ll get the Ridgewood, New Jersey band, Prawn. Oh, don’t forget to stir in a bit of blistering shoegaze from My Bloody Valentine, as well. Bring it all to a boil and enjoy.

Recommended if you like: Brand New, Moving Mountains

Playing: March 25, 11 p.m. at The Watercooler

RUMTUM

John Thomas isn’t simply a DJ or a producer, he’s a sonic explorer. For his longtime electronica project, RUMTUM, Thomas uses seemingly “found” sounds and eclectic percussion to build songs that transport his listeners into beautiful, undisturbed nature. Listening to Thomas’ kaleidoscope of buzzing rainsticks, crackling campfires and humming insects is like taking a long hike through the kind of rain-misted forests found on our Pacific coast or, if you’re imaginative enough, a planet that you’ve never even heard of before.

Recommended if you like: Monster Rally, Flying Lotus

Playing: March 26, 10 p.m. at Rose Room

Chairlift

The whole “duo” format shouldn’t be reserved just for raucous blues outfits like The White Stripes and The Black Keys. Chairlift is an ultra-groovy twosome from Brooklyn, New York that specializes in emotive synth pop. Yes, they pull off their song through unique programming and quirky guitar tones, but the pair is also blessed to have frontwoman Caroline Polachek’s powerful soprano voice leading the way.

Recommended if you like: Cults, Phantogram

Playing: March 27, 7 p.m. at Main Stage