I’m with the groupies

treefortIt used to be that Spring break was just a healthy opportunity to exercise my ability to ignore what sounded like a passel of wild pigs mowing through my kitchen every five minutes, and people pawing at me with complaints about boredom, while coming to grips with the fact that we’re staring down the barrel of summer and a full three months of this nonsense just around the bend.

But NO MORE. Spring break is now also the kickoff of a good, solid reason to be jolly. Treefort Music Fest. For the next few days, something like 400 bands will be performing in about a dozen venues downtown.

For every one of the past five years of this event, we’ve taken time off, stocked the freezer with frozen foods, and I’ve organized what I’m going to wear around comfortable shoes. With apologies to my lovingly ignored progeny, Treefort is the single best thing to happen to Spring break.

But one can’t go into Treefort unprepared. We got together with friends earlier this week to go over the schedule and talk about must see bands, or at least glean recommendations from each other. I went over the list to see if there was any particular performance I absolutely could not miss.

Not surprisingly, the answer was no. This isn’t a reflection on any of the bands, of which I only recognize a handful. For most of the next few days, people will be talking about bands with names you’re not going to hear on 99.99 percent of the airwaves across the country (and yet, somehow, some of them have garnered a pretty substantial following anyway), and I’ll be just nodding and smiling like I know what the hell anyone is talking about.

I know I’m not totally alone in my ignorance. This isn’t a festival that goes after big acts. It’s not likely anyone performing at Treefort is a future Superbowl halftime show.

But even if this was that sort of conglomeration, even if the promo poster listed out a Who’s Who of the entertainment industry, I’d still be at a loss.

I’m really not into the music scene.

There, I’ve said it. I’m not into music. Pretty much the first time any particular song wafts into my consciousness is when the artist is interviewed on public radio, or someone makes a parody.

I know to some of you, my admission sounds a little like I just said “what’s the big deal with reading?” or “breathing? I’d give it a three.”

I know this because I hang out with people who are passionate about music. So I usually keep my ambivalence on the DL, and maintain my cover with a lot of nodding and smiling.

It’s not easy. You music people are sometimes hard to put up with. Someone’s always grabbing me with a “You gotta hear this.”

{Sigh} Okay. What? Yes, that’s nice. Who’d you say that was? Umm-hmm.

A photo posted by Mike Markley (@markleymike) on


Sometimes you people wait until we can’t get escape. Jack always takes advantage of our time together in the car, plugging in stuff he insists I’ll love. With this particular teenage boy, that usually means something heavily mixed, with a beat that threatens to blow out the little speakers on my Prius.

“What is this?” I’ll ask.

“It’s Major Lazer, their stuff is kind of house, with a little bit of trap, I think.”

“Ahhhh,” which is mom-speak for I haven’t the foggiest idea what you just said.

So what gets me so enthusiastic about a five-day music festival where I’m going to wait in line to have my eardrums pummeled? Where then I’m going to be standing in a sweaty crowd behind the six-foot-seven guy who’s forever following me around so he can maliciously station himself in front of me at every SRO event?


I actually don’t know the answer to that question. I do know that there is something about the energy of a crowd at a live performance that I love. Then there’s something about having a band start in on a set and realizing oh my god, these guys are really good, what are they called again? There’s something about grabbing a sandwich from a food truck before racing down the street to catch the next show, and then being diverted when you run into someone you know knows his stuff, who tells you “No, come see this. These guys are fantastic.”

There’s something about all of this noise and traffic and interaction that feels so positive right now. Just what we all need. Like none of us is any different from any other, we’re just looking for that thing with which to connect and lose ourselves for a little bit. There’s no ideology or platform or stance to take. There are just lights and sound and people on stage completely absorbed in doing something remarkable for our entertainment with no other agenda but to have fun.

So, why am I here? I guess you could say I’m here for the groupies as much as the bands.

This is an admittedly crappy recording of the audience at a performance by Boise band Hollow Wood in 2014. I’m going to call it “34 Seconds of Happy.” Imagine five days of this and you’ll get my drift.


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  1. That music fest sounds like fun! I agree though, if I\’m not familiar with the band, I\’m not really into the music. I do love a crowd and a fun event though! Did I ever tell you that Kev is from Ontario? We head up that way several times a year! I love Boise!

  2. How did you do that? All of your responses were in MY VOICE. I know the lyrics to just about every song I\’ve heard more than, say five times, and I WILL sing along if it\’s on a radio or over the PA at the grocery store, but who was the original artist? What GENRE is this? Are you frickin\’ kidding me? Not. One. Clue.

    But I\’m on the other side of it when it comes to quotable movies. Yes, I know the quotes. And the character who said it. And the actor playing the character. And five other movies that actor made. And probably who\’s married to that actor. (ad infinitum)

    Found you via Jenny Lawson, btw, and I now follow you on Twitter. Not that I\’m ever really ON Twitter, but ya know.

  3. lmao! Of course you would be into the audience participation! At this point, from getting to know you through your blog, I get that you\’d be all about the Macarena! lol Or not! Karioke?…See, I don\’t even know how to spell that. But I picture you out there cheering and shaking your tail feathers with the best of them. Well, I\’m glad you\’re going to have a good Spring Break. I hear ya on the times when our kids were little and shooting myself in the foot was more appealing than having them around bored for two weeks (and I live in Canada where there is still snow during spring break!) Have fun! You will have to give us all the details!

    1. To be honest, there was one mosh pit situation where I was distinctly out of my element, but at all other times I was not above throwing a few elbows to be right up front. Not so much into kareoke (nope, can\’t spell that one either), but I\’ll holler along to the lyrics whether or not I know \’em.