We went to Eaux Claires fest again this year, making sure we got our tickets ahead of time. It really seems like they took suggestions from some of the problems experienced last year, like website troubles, food vendors and time of year. Everything was much smoother and just as enjoyable as last year. We also learned from our experience last year: we learned that we don’t enjoy camping that much, so we got a hotel and paid for the shuttle. I don’t know if the camping issues were fixed as well, but at least there wasn’t a nearby tornado/thunder storm that destroyed tents and made people huddle in their cars. I slept through it though, thank you ambien!
Anyway, we got there as soon as our densely-packed shuttle could. Arriving in time to grab a titto vodka greyhound, hear a little of So Percussion and settle in for a great set of My Brightest Diamond.
Then we got some food and caught Bonnie Prince Billy with Eighth Blackbird for a circular poetry/neo classical piece. I’m not sure most people had the fortitude to stay with for the over 15 minutes of chanting, poetical piece. I hadn’t seen him perform before so I was excited.
I stayed for yMusic with the Staves on the main stage and Danelle caught Senyawa’s set, which she said was fantastic. I walked back up and caught up with them for Little Scream and then Deafheaven, who I had heard a lot of good things about and did not disappoint. Danelle was not impressed, but she likes less rock bands and outright hated the Melvins set, which I had to admit almost had a classic rock tinge to it. I love the Melvins though, Ozma is one of my favorite albums of all time.
Then we caught the talented Sarah Neufeld in the Banks unique set that had artists perform in enclosed box that had projections on the outside and you listened through wireless headphones. It was kind of an interesting approach, using the headphones instead of a PA, although there were some technical problems once in a while. And it was the only stage that had air conditioning… so BONUS! And I forgot to mention it started raining in the afternoon and kept on occasionally raining until dark.
James Blake’s set really kind of blew me away, I checked him out online and did not think much of it, but there was something very impressive about super loud sub-bass chill music. Although I admit that description is kind of terrible… It was very cool though.
Bon Iver debuted their new album next and like last year felt special to witness. I’m a big fan of depressing, introspective music so I’ll be picking it up when it releases next month.
I tried to get people to stay for Cornelius’s set, but only got the group I was with to stay for 3 songs. It was great, but Fantasma doesn’t really compare with Sensuous, in my opinion.
Then I walked up to join my compatriots for a pretty kick-ass naughty set from Tickle Torture. He describes his music as a mix between noise and R&B, and I’d have to agree that’s the best description. Between the dancers ejaculating confetti from giant tubes and singer Elliot stripping completely naked at the end, I was half wondering when the cops would show up.
Saturday I got on the shuttle first thing to catch the last bit of Slosylove’s amazing electronic set and then headed over to catch Colin Stetson’s ‘metal’ project Ex Eye. I was excited about Colin’s new project after hearing a few tracks online. I used ”’s because it seems less metal and more prog. Metal in the way Led Zepplin is metal, maybe… It was good though, he did some howl/singing through his saxophone which added some texture to the instrumental songs.
The rest of the day included sets by Jenny Lewis, Buke and Gase, Melvins, Har Mar Superstar, Lucius, and the wonderful Erykah Badu. We wanted to catch Beach House, but bailed on account of our feet and legs had had enough. I’d have to say that nothing is perfect but they really did seem to improve on the criticisms of last year: it was easy to get water, more food options for those of us with food intolerances, shade stations and less waiting in line. Everyone is super nice, i’m told, which is another rarity at festivals.
I can’t wait for next year!