Live Report: Eaux Claires 2016

“Our mission for Eaux Claires is to create a deeply meaningful experience of togetherness and expression.”

So Justin Vernon introduced the second edition of Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, the return to the river. And no words could be more exact than these.

From the very moment you step in town, even before the beginning of the festival, you feel part of a community happy to welcome new members in its group, willing to share and learn with and from each other. Eaux Claires is made of singalongs in the shuttle-bus taking the attendees back and forth the festival grounds, of shared shelters when the rain starts falling hard during the gigs, of thousands voices becoming one when the sun goes down and there is Bon Iver’s, (or rather, “Justin’s”, no one would refer to him otherwise there) music to keep warm on an August Wisconsin night.

Eaux Claires is putting headphones on and getting lost in psychedelic sound next to some of the bigger names on the bill underneath a tent, is having a church organ playing baroque music in the middle of the field between two acts as in a timeless baseball stadium, is getting lost in the woods looking for magic of art and sound. It is hugging your fellow passengers on the way back to the hotel, pledging you’ll see all each other again next year. Same place, same time, same heart.