Treefort Music Fest 2016, Day 4: San Fermin, White Denim, YACHT, Oddisee, Aesop Rock

Local Music, Live Reviews
Geran Landen
photos by Alex Crick (view set)

Saturday marked Treefort Music Fest's busiest day with a slew of diverse acts found at every hour. On the main stage San Fermin and White Denim both brought an orchestra's worth of sound to full crowds, while Yacht got Boise dancing like only Yacht can. Elsewhere, the Knitting Factory offered Treefort a bit of hip-hop, with both Oddisee and Aesop Rock sharing their mastery of words and rhythm. It was no doubt a long day, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone complaining on the streets of Boise.

San FerminSan Fermin's music may largely come from the mind of band member Ellis Ludwig-Leone, but the live show is an immense team effort. The octet from San Francisco brought their baroque tinged pop to the main stage before the sun had set on Friday. Vocalist's Charlene Kay, who took over in 2014 and Allen Tate offered amazing vocal contrast, with Kay's sugary pop-star voice balancing out Tate's broody crooning. The band added extra punch with live horns and saxophone, providing a brass blast that can only be fully appreciated live. The crowded stage didn't contribute to an overcrowded mix, and the instrumentation of the octet embellished and intermingled, instead of getting in the way of each other. The band played new track "August" for the third time ever, and in the process showed their quality isn't due to deteriorate any time soon.

White DenimAustin group White Denim has never been a band known for sticking to one aesthetic. They've explored the sounds of everything from lo-fi garage to polished soul music in their releases but the one constant remains their command of guitar driven music that explodes in the live setting. This remained the case on the Main Stage on Saturday as White Denim played a set dominated by their newest album Stiff. Organ and southern rock undertones along with a soulful swing were both more present, reflecting the newest aesthetic offering from the band. The group made their guitars sing like few others can do, and winding riffs coiled up before hitting the Boise crowd with a sonic blast usually reserved for much larger bands. The four-piece from Austin may be constantly evolving and changing their sound, but the fullness and entertainment they bring to the crowd has remained constant.

YACHTClaire Evans and Jona Bechtolt are busy bodies. Between releasing smart progressive electronic music as YACHT, the two take on a slew of side projects. Bechtolt is a voracious blogger and has composed a pop opera while Evans is a proficient writer and edits science fiction. With all the intermingling projects, you'd think their music would suffer, but instead it only seems to inspire the group to think in different ways, and present their music in a unique fashion. They proved as much on Friday at the Main Stage. Joined by longtime friend and band mate Bobby Birdman, the trio blasted Boise with their "songs specifically imagineered for dancing." Birdman and Becholt stood at two podiums, mixing, triggering midi and occasionally adding funky guitar riffs or banging on a drum pad. Evans took center stage, inspiring the crowd to dance with moves of her own. Factory like bass and mechanical beats mixed with slithering vocals and multiple rhythm lines interlocked with powerful force. At one point Evans declared that they were "just having fun up here" and it was surely a sentiment felt and reciprocated by Boise.

OddiseeIt's hard to decide if Amir Mohamed el Khalifa's stage banter or immaculate flow were more enjoyable Saturday night at the Knitting Factory. That is in no way a jab at Oddisee's music, rather a compliment to his elegance with words both over a beat and through storytelling. The D.C. rapper bobbed and weaved through his catalog of largely self-produced beats, giving recording quality rapping to the Boise crowd. He stopped multiple times to tell entertaining stories ranging from his struggle with the right pronunciation of "Boise" to his experience being a black Muslim in America. It was a captivating show to say the least, and by the time he had dropped a self-produced trap remix of his own song that stirred the crowd into a frenzy, Oddisee had accomplished showing Boise the immense range of his talents.

Aesop RockEven the greats of music at some point lose their edge. It's an unfortunate consequence of the unavoidable effects of time. And after 20+ years of destroying the mic and an upcoming album release, worries of deterioration in Aesop Rock's quality were only natural. But from the moment Aesop Rock came out on stage Sunday night, it was apparent that the hip-hop veteran was still on top of his game. Aesop delivered a workman like set, blowing through both new songs and old, his flow of elaborate diction never faltering. When he skipped words or lines, it seemed more to give hype man Rob Sonic (who also delivered guest verses with an impressive command) something to do rather than a break for Aesop Rock. New songs from the upcoming album The Impossible Kid fit in nicely with his older work, further proving a break in quality was not forthcoming. Before the show came to an end, Aesop Rock stepped aside to let DJ Abilities deliver a personal rendition of Old Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." As the great finished his storm of scratching and Aesop Rock delved into another song, there was no doubt that Boise had just witnessed two hip-hop legends at their best.

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