Arts

This year’s Eaux Claires holds promise with impressive lineup

The 2017 Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival will take place June 16 and 17 in Eau Claire, Wis.

Image By: Sammy Gibbons

The Daily Cardinal is heading to Eau Claire on June 16 and 17 to cover this year’s Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival. Our arts staff share what acts they are most excited to see this weekend:

Wisconsin is often dismissed or ignored when it comes to discussions about cutting-edge music. Instead, when people think of Wisconsin, they see a frozen landscape that has become the holy land for all things dairy, and rightfully so. But it turns out that Wisconsin has a lot to offer to the music scene.

Thanks to the patron saint of locking-yourself-in-a-remote-cabin Justin Vernon, Eau Claire, Wis. has become a new destination for visionary musicians and artists. In its third year, Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival has recruited great artists from all over the country.

These are the ones I’m looking forward to seeing the most in this year’s lineup.

First and foremost is Danny Brown. Arguably one of the most inventive rappers in the game, Danny captures the feeling of drug addiction without failure. On his most recent album, Atrocity Exhibition, the combination of dark production and his high-pitched, nasally voice throws the listeners into a wistful nightmare with hints of splendor.

The bizarre juxtaposition of Danny’s happy-go-lucky attitude and his haunting drug addiction means the energy at his set will most likely be unbelievable in the best ways. Danny routinely brings extreme energy to his shows; Eaux Claires will be no different.

In the past year, Chance the Rapper has become rap’s golden child. He is constantly promoting positivity, which makes for a thrilling show. Since major cosigns from Kanye West and nearly every other notable rap star, Chance has ramped up the energy and production value of his shows. His impressive library of sing-along songs means crowd participation will be unrivaled across the two days of the festival.

The group Quindar has potential to put on a stunning show on the first day of the festival. For those of you who don’t know, quindar tones are the short beeps that told astronauts on the Apollo missions that they were still in contact with communications on Earth. Using old archived NASA recordings of sounds from various missions, Quindar puts together expansive electronic music. When considering the historical relevance, their music can only be described as breathtaking.

— Logan Rude, music columnist

The Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival continues to draw attention to Wisconsin as it grows into its third year. The festival was first planted at Foster Farms in Eau Claire, Wis.—the mothership of one of the festival’s curators, Justin Vernon of the indie-folk band Bon Iver.

Having grown up in Eau Claire and walked the same high school hallways that Vernon did several years before, as well as attending the last two Eaux Claires festivals, it goes without saying that I am thrilled to be covering the weekend for The Daily Cardinal.

Although the inaugural festival included fairly renowned names such as The National and Sufjan Stevens in its lineup, this year welcomes icons like Paul Simon and Chance the Rapper, both of whom I am beyond excited to see in my little E.C.

Returning from the first festival, though, is indie-pop duo Sylvan Esso, who will undoubtedly get the crowd dancing with songs from their latest album. The band’s lead vocalist, Amelia Meath, will also perform with her other group, Mountain Man—a three-piece folk group that contrasts beautifully from the electronic notes of Sylvan Esso. Meath is not the only performer to double-team the festival—Jeff Tweedy will grace the stage with Wilco, as well as partner with his son to showcase jams from their band, Tweedy. These connections highlight the familial vibes that resonate through all attendees of Eaux Claires as the weekend goes on.

Beyond the musical lineup, I am also looking forward to seeing the art that makes the festival unique. Each year, this aspect of the festival has improved, bringing incredible sculptures, interactive pieces, dance performances and numerous displays hidden in the depths of the woods that connect the festival grounds. In addition, a number of writers visit and read some of their work. Each year this festival makes me proud to be a Wisconsinite and Eau Clairian. I look forward to bringing readers along for the ride.

— Sammy Gibbons, contributing writer

Festival season always introduces the promise of an escape from the dimly-lit basement venues that many concert photographers frequent. As my own excitement builds for Eaux Claires, I can’t help but feel a lightness in my chest for the chance to photograph and attend some of the amazing sets lined up for this year’s festival.

There is nothing quite like the freedom of playing with more light in photography. Daytime sets allow for a deeper focus and a faster shutter speed, making the creative process in capturing photos more complex and varying. Energetic and fast-moving artists, like Chance the Rapper, become easier to capture in their full force. As night falls, stage-lighting colors become more pronounced and important against a dark outdoor space.

The most amazing part about music photography is being able to shed light on the faces of those who enjoy music the most, the fans. Although the artists and the music are paramount, the people surrounding these festivals are some of the most interesting subjects to photograph. I can’t wait to visually express what it is like to experience such a homegrown festival like Eaux Claires as a fan as well as a photojournalist.

— Morgan Winston, photographer and contributing writer

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