There Is No Trail When You’re Breaking Trail: Eaux Claires 2016 Lineup Reaction


“The lineup will be announced in early 2016”, they said. So we waited. We tweeted. We asked. We refreshed the page. We waited.

We waited because we remembered.

Eaux Claires 2015, a place where friends and music became one in the hot heat of the Chippewa Valley in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. A place where festival curator Justin Vernon of Bon Iver sent a hand addressed letter to each artist imploring them to interact. Imploring them to be involved, and to be spontaneous. 2015 was the first year of the festival, so we didn’t know what to expect, but we went anyways, hoping our trust wouldn’t be betrayed.

We arrived the day of the festival in July, we heard Sufjan softly singing through the trees from the parking lot, and we knew. We entered the festival with art hanging over our heads, and we knew. We walked up the endless and slippery hill to see Aero Flynn for the first time, creating a lasting bond. We were excited when Vernon joined him onstage, and again when he joined Sufjan, and again when he roamed the grounds. We saw the No BS! Brass band wandering too, and we cried when we sang along with the Tallest Man on Earth. We had our soul saved from a man with no shoes and a PBR in a geometric tent. We felt one with “22,00 beating hearts” as we listened to Bon Iver sweetly singing at the end of his festival, bringing onstage artist after artist as friends and as family. He sang new songs, and we cried again. He thanked us, we thanked him. We all cried together. We were immersed, and we left baptised by the music and by the community we created. We left changed. We talked about it to everyone who would listen, eagerly awaiting our reunion in 2016.

“All is not fallow…follow tomorrow” was our first hint for 2016; we got this:

We watched it over and over in anticipation. Waiting.

We got another hint, this time in the form of a cassette tape. “A mixtape with b-sides, demos, home recordings and spontaneous contributions from some of the artists featured in the year two lineup.” It was sent to those of us who purchased tickets ahead of time; an unexpected and unwarranted thank you surprise from the festival curators. Delivered in a black envelope with the word “DEUX” scrawled across the front, we were excited to see such names as Shabazz Palaces, Tickle Torture, My Brightest Diamond and Bon Iver on the cassette, and we were eager to get the full lineup on February 11th. We listened to it when it was released on Soundcloud, and we were happy when within the first few moments of the tape we heard a proclamation, and the rest sweet songs and strange chanting calling us back to the river at Eaux Claires 2016.

Finally, on February 11th, we woke up to a video:

And then a lineup:


We got excited over names we knew: Beach House, Vince Staples, James Blake, Bon Iver, My Brightest Diamond, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and a few others, but we were also excited for the names we didn’t know because they were what made Eaux Claires so great last year, and we were eager to discover new again. There’s going to be projects too. Like the one in which Aaron Dessner of the National and his brother Bryce Dessner are planning to perform Grateful Dead songs with other musicians present. Based off last year Vernon said it right: “We believe that every single artist will bring an equal amount of importance and uniqueness to the culture we’ve created”.

The fact that Senyawa

can exist on the same grounds as James Blake,

And Lnzndrf

Should tell you something about Eaux Claires.

Watch the videos and maybe you will get it. Compare the names on the lineup and maybe you will get it. Maybe you will see that Eaux Claires is something special, a place where everyone is family because you all experienced the indescribable together. A place where country, synth, rock and Jazz can all be played in the same night. Vernon ends his announcement video with “you can break trail but it’s nothin’ if no one follows”

We will follow


JULIA OLSON | SU Student-Starred in the promo video | SU student correspondent



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