Eaux Claires Day 2: The Highlights
The second day at Eaux Claires 2017 carried even more collaborations and improvisations, which make up the core of the festival. Although there had been a potential thunderstorm brewing all day, the rain held off until the evening, which is when the festival organizers had to improvise with the schedule. Tune in to find out which artists teamed up on Saturday, who played surprise sets, and how the fest made up for the change in schedule.
The Creek Acted as a Collaboration Hub
Just like Day 1, The Creek stage opened on Saturday with a People Mixtape set. The second volume of People Mixtape remained instrumental and came across as a genuine jam session between friends (which is what a lot of the performances at Eaux Claires really are). After entrancing the group with the 1PM mixtape set, Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon returned to same stage only a couple of hours later, to perform as Big Red Machine. For this collaborative set, Dessner and Vernon were joined by even more of the acts playing the festival, like s-t-a-r-g-a-z-e and Mouse on Mars. With their jam-packed line up and debut of new music, Big Red Machine was able to draw a huge crowd to one of the festival's smaller stages.
The Sad Saxes Joined This Is The Kit
This Is The Kit once again made it onto the highlights list. After an incredible performance at the Flambeaux stage on Day 1, This Is The Kit now moved their set into the woods at The Oxbeaux Stage on Saturday. Once again joined by Aaron Dessner, the three piece of Kate Stables, Rozi Plain, and Jamie Whitby-Coles were also joined by The Sad Saxes. Although the two groups were working together on the fly, with Stables at one point explaining to the saxophone choir how she envisioned their contribution, the collaboration paired perfectly and sounded well-rehearsed. At Eaux Claires, there's never any shortage of really talented musicians going with the flow to make something special together. At the end of the mesmerizing set, the crowd gave a standing ovation.
Jenny Lewis Packed the Sparreaux Stage
Featured as an "Artist in Residence," Jenny Lewis was never officially on the 2017 lineup. On Friday, a set named "Jenny Lewis and Friends" appeared unannounced in the app, set to occur at 3:30 on one of the smallest stages, the Sparreaux stage. Well before the start of the set, an overflowing crowd camped out to be able to see this special, last-minute set. Lewis described herself and her friends as "Hawaiian psychedelic swing band" from Minneapolis, called Econo Lodge. The set opened with an improvised performance before moving into the crowd favorite "Just One Of The Guys."
Feist Played Her Entire New Album
Shortly before Feist was set to take the stage, Eaux Claires narrator Michael Perry took the stage to announce a change in schedule. "There's only one thing we care about more than art," he said, adding that they would be improvising some schedule changes due to safety concerns with the incoming storms. Feist ended up getting a 15 minute extension on her set, which she used to play her new album Pleasure from start to finish. Between the songs, Feist would explain her vision behind the lyrics and compositions, vividly describing one song as the chase scene in a movie. She ended her set by singing out her appreciation for the crowd and her excitement over seeing Paul Simon perform later.
The App Revealed Paul Simon and yMusic's Set List
Paul Simon's set at the festival acted as the debut performance of a collaboration with yMusic. Although this set had originally been bumped up to 7:30 from 8:30 with the oncoming storms, a downpour hit the festival during Danny Brown's set. When Simon and the yMusic ensemble eventually took the stage around 8PM, the official festival app paired with the setlist, announcing the songs as they started. Similarly to Bon Iver's performance last year, festival goers were able to keep up with the order of songs in real time.
The Festival Organized an After Party After Wilco
The collaborations and surprises don't end there--Day 2 also featured a set from Field Report at The Decorum, and after a stunning performance from Wilco that closed out the festival, it was announced on Bon Iver's Twitter that some of the evening's cancelled performances from the smaller stages were being moved to the Lismore Hotel in downtown Eau Claire. Sets at The Lismore included Mouse on Mars and Velvet Negroni.
While the festival may be over for this year, we'll soon be posting photo galleries and interviews with The Autumn Defense and This Is The Kit from the weekend. Stay tuned for those and start counting down the days until Eaux Claires 2018!
Words and Photos by Rachel Zyzda