Treefort Hype: ‘Must-See’ Live Performances

Do you like music festivals? Obviously. Treefort has an awesome lineup this year. But if you need some persuation, check out some of our most recent Treefort posts:

https://kzuu.org/category/treefort/

And now for our third update of ‘Treefort Hype’. Up until now, we’ve been focusing on the road-warriors artists that festival goers must see. But with 15 days until Treefort Music Fest begins, there are a couple spotlight artists that are going to have some ‘must-see’ performances. So here are some that should be on your radar curated by KZUU’s finest:

Shane’s Pick: Lauren Ruth Ward

I’ve always wanted to experience ‘Jam In The Van’ in person. And this video is just about as close as I’ve gotten. ‘Make Love To Myself’ along with many of Ward’s tunes have vocal runs that last much longer that 4 bars. At times, Ward’s voice becomes raspy without sounding like she’s losing her breath. And her ‘Srew you A**hole, I don’t need you for s**t’ attitude echos when she delivers the lyrics but with a touch of poetic justice. This performance is particularly special because its an acoustic set of the studio version. The band does a great job of complimenting her voice without being overbearing. You’ll be able to see her @The Olympic for a 12:20AM showing on Thursday Evening into Friday Morning. She will be a great way to end the second night of the festival.

Jacob’s Pick: Magna Carda

Whenever hip-hop artists can marry their sound with live music, the end result is almost always something more interesting and diverse than the sum of its parts. Think Badbadnotgood’s performance with Denzel Curry, or El-P’s “High Water” album, performed with a live jazz band. Magna Carda, an Austin-based duo, manages to capture the cohesion and fusion between their spoken track and the live band, especially in this performance of “They Watchin’ Me.” DJ Megz Kelli’s strong vocals, reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, Wynne, and even Danny Brown at times, cut through the instrumental backing, and are able to stand on their own as powerful indictments of an unjust system. At one point in the song, there’s a longer instrumental break, where the guitarist’s technical skill almost creates a second voice in the song, complementing Kelli’s original bars. Magna Carda will be playing Thursday the 26th at 7:10 PM in the Linen Building. Their music, suited to nighttime coffeehouses and smaller venues, will be a unique and original addition to the Treefort lineup, and I’m excited to see them play.

Derek’s Pick: Lightning Bolt

These guys are absolutely insane, in the best way possible. This noise rock band is made up of just a drummer and a bassist, but it’s some of the loudest music you’ll ever hear. Punching through the chaotic drumming and crazy bass rhythms are the drummer’s unintelligible vocals. When performing live, he uses a contact mic, which needs to be touching his mouth in order to work. So he keeps it strapped to his face underneath his mask.


This live performance at a Japanese festival, Taicoclub, was how I first heard of the Lightning Bolt. I was instantly hooked after just how nuts the video was. Yet another quirk of theirs is how they usually perform on the same level as the audience. Often their “stage” is just a gap in the crowd, as you can see in the video. The closest fans could reach out and touch the instruments, so earplugs are highly recommended. I hope that their set at Treefort comes close to the kind of energy shown in the video. They’re performing late Friday night at 12:20 AM, at the El Korah Shine stage, and for me it’s a can’t-miss. I can’t wait to hear how the songs from their last album, 2019’s Sonic Citadel, turn out live.

Flint’s Pick: Horse Jumper of Love

Horse Jumper of Love has been on my radar for a few months now, ever since I started working at KZUU. Over the past couple of months, I’ve managed to slip one of their songs into nearly every one of my shows. So, imagine how genuinely surprised and happy I was to find out that they’d be playing at Treefort this year. This live performance really showcases just how full their sound is, despite only having three members in the group. While it might not be particularly high-energy, they take their performance seriously by focusing on recreating the full sound that’s present on the recorded track to the best of their ability. In some ways, they’ve managed to make the track seem even “warmer” during the live performance, so I’m curious to see how well that transitions to their performance at Treefort this year. I’m really looking forward to hearing their live set Saturday night (3/28) from 9-9:40pm at RamaPong, and you should be too.

There will be a bunch of great shows throughout this festival, but these are ones that are going to be perfect fits for these venues. So if you didn’t have a reason to truck to the festival with us, here is your chance! Head to https://www.treefortmusicfest.com/ for tickets and the full schedule!

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