As I type, I should probably be packing for the few nights I’ll be away in Wisconsin for Eaux Claires but I am too deep in reminiscing about last year while listening to a playlist I put together of this year’s lineup.
One of my favorite parts of the inaugural Eaux Claires festival was the mixture of artists I knew and those I didn’t (tied for my least favorites: attending it with my ex-boyfriend and how much I sweated around complete strangers) because it forced me, someone who usually goes to shows only if I’m already a fan, to be part of something bigger than my personal tastes. Although I still made sure I caught sets of artists I already love (Sufjan, The National, Aero Flynn, Haley Bonar, The Lone Bellow), I also left myself open to coming across a band I was unfamiliar with and sticking around for their set (most notably Melt Banana).
All in all, it was a surreal experience to know so many people descended upon a fairly small city in western Wisconsin where I lived for four years while attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. There was a stronger sense of community during the festival than any other large event I’d attended before and I am so happy to #returntotheriver – I know hashtags don’t work here don’t kill my vibe.
I was so happy, actually, that I purchased my tickets for this year’s festival last October – before a lineup was even announced. Once it was, in February of this year, my eyes lit up over the artists I recognized, of course, and my heart rate sped up at the amount I had no idea existed. I felt like I needed to study up to have a chance at enjoying myself as much as last time. By the way, this is a completely insane way to think and I thankfully realized it! So I calmed down and made a playlist of three- to-four of the most popular songs from each artist so I could at least get an idea of what they were like. Music shouldn’t be stressful. Half the magic of this festival is coming away with more than you came in with.
Here’s the playlist I came up with. If you’re not heading over to Eau Claire and are super bummed a lot of your friends are going to be sweating up a storm while witnessing likely once-in-a-lifetime performances and collaborations (SORRY IT’S TRUE), hit play, close your eyes and I bet you’ll almost smell the aroma of bug spray and possibly a waft of pizza from the Toppers Pizza food truck that will SERVE SLICES AND TOPPERSTIX ALL DAY can you even believe it (sorry again). If you’re road tripping out there, stream it as you drive and figure out your game plan for which bands you’ll see on which stage at what time – or don’t, and just see where the days take you.