Technically, the Treefort Music Festival doesn't take place in Portland. It happens in Boise, Idaho. But hey, that's only about a six-hour drive away. It's practically next door! And anyway, if you look at the lineup, it's not not a Portland music festival. Over six years, Treefort—which takes over more than a dozen venues in for five straight days—has grown into an annual summit meeting for the Pacific Northwest music scene, welcoming roughly 8 zillion artists from all over the region, plus a few big national names, like Mac DeMarco and Angel Olsen. Admittedly, it can be a bit overwhelming to navigate. So if you're making the trek out to the City of (Surprisingly Not That Many) Trees this week and feeling nervous about not having a set schedule, here are five lesser-known acts you should consider planning around.
Rituals of Mine
This Sacramento duo is on the short list of Treefort acts on the cusp of a major breakthrough. The dark, minimal electro-pop of last year's Devoted sulks and slithers effortlessly in the sonic realm triangulated by the XX, Chelsea Wolfe and Sylvan Esso. 9 pm Thursday at El Korah Shrine.
With Can-inspired rhythms and swirling reverb for days, Maszer's 2016 EP, Dreamsz, is like a hesher's answer to the dream garage of the Kills, the Black Angels and the Raveonettes. 12:40 am Friday night at the Shredder.
There's something impossibly endearing about the way Stepbrothers' chaotic 2015 album, Why the Fuck Would Anything Nice Ever Happen?, teeters on the verge of falling apart at every turn. The undercurrent of chaos makes the Boise post-hardcore outfit's melodies and breakdowns hit even harder. 8 pm Friday at Mardi Gras.
The fuzzy and brooding darkwave of Salt Lake City's Sculpture Club absolutely nails the Buzzcocks-meets-Bauhaus approach to post-punk, but don't write the band off as goth posers without first giving its live set a look. 9 pm Thursday at the Boise All-Ages Music Project.
Referring to this Boise outfit as an "emo band" isn't exactly fair, but there's no question as to what kind of music fan would find its dreamy hodgepodge of moody compositions particularly appealing. The Warm Lights EP is a sleeper masterpiece just waiting to be discovered by slightly older punks who've graduated from the mall parking lot to the philosophy section of their local bookstore. 6 pm Saturday at Mardi Gras.
SEE IT: The Treefort Music Fest is Wednesday-Sunday, March 22-26, in downtown Boise, Idaho. See treefortmusicfest.com for complete schedule and ticket information.