You would think that by the third year, we would have some idea of what to expect from Eaux Claires. You would think that, by now, there would be an established genre, an established vibe, an established something. Yet, we can’t say that there’s really anything established about Eaux Claires, besides maybe a deep feeling of community and a desire to learn. The first year of Eaux Claires was somewhat of a mystery, and rightly so for the first year of a brand new festival. Yet, we discovered that it was not just the lineup that was mysterious, but those two days in August remained a mystery even after the fact. You meet strangers, you compare stories and things you found, things you discovered, things you felt; the only shared experience was a sense of awe, and we were all eager for the next year to see if the mystery would die out in time.
Year Deux added to the mystery. We found ourselves tromping through the woods, ignoring the poison-ivy like rash in a manic effort to discover everything placed for us at Eaux Claires. We were invited to understand each other, to sing, to dance, to rest, and to wonder. We all discovered in different ways. Some of us could be found lounging in the shade of the woods absorbing the sweet music streaming through the trees, some of us were dancing and singing with hundreds of our friends, and some of us were breaking off from the others to discover on our own. We listened to Jenny Lewis. We cried when Justin Vernon released his new 22, A Million. We got sparkly with Tickle Torture, and gathered around wherever an artist decided to host a pop-up performance somewhere deep in the woods. We were a community, and we were told to appreciate the land we were using. We learned about its indigenous inhabitants, and learned to appreciate their culture in a beautiful, anti-cultural appropriation.
Year Troix: we are no longer concerned with the lineup. We know it will be good. Some of our favorite bits from Deux were found in the unfamiliar. Still, the day before the official lineup announcement, on the day some of us were sent a pre-release package, we are excited to see names we know: Francis and the Lights, Sylvan Esso, Perfume Genus, Danny Brown, and Chance the Rapper, to name a few. We were excited to see familiar names presented in a new way: Bon Iver Presents John Prine and the American Songbook, as well as a brand new Dessner brother and Vernon collaboration just for Eaux Claires (under the name “Big Red Machine”). But we are even more excited to learn about those we aren’t yet familiar with.
On February 9th, we woke not to a video, as expected, but a publication.
“Uncertainty was always part of the plan. We never wanted to do the same thing. The idea was always to change. We are going to draw inward. Undo the latticework and tighten the weave. Contract the circle. When you close focus you do not shrink the world; you deepen the world. The denser the bud, the bigger the bloom.”
We were told that this year, there will be less stages, and no more either/or choices. Instead, we are invited to join together for the entirety of the festival, for “we are at our best when the people become the place.” This year, Troix will focus on collaboration. Because there will be fewer stages, we are called to all dance together, artist and patron alike. In order to bring together audience and artist, Eaux Claires is introducing “artists-in-residence,” which will feature names like Jenny Lewis, Justin Vernon, Phil Cook, and all three members of The Staves. Although most of these artists aren’t performing under a given time slot, they will be roaming the grounds performing where and when they see fit, and joining other artists onstage, prompted or unprompted.
Troix still remains a bit of a mystery. Will less stages hinder the amount of different music available? Will the festival become congested, with everyone all in one place? Still, it’s easy to push these worries out of mind, because we’ve yet to be disappointed.
JULIA OLSON | Justin’s #1 fan | KXSU Head Reporter