With the exception of Newport Folk Festival, we’re not too hot on music festivals. You know the reasons: sweaty crowds, mediocre sound, endless lines for beer, girls dressed like fairies twirling glow sticks. But when Eaux Claires was announced, a two-day celebration on the banks of the Chippewa River in Wisconsin, courtesy Aaron Dessner of The National, and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, we started to get a certain promising feeling.
That optimism turned out to be entirely justified. Who could object to straightforward music in an easygoing Midwest setting, with plenty of Leinenkugel’s to go around? For this native Minnesotan (whose cabin is less than hour from Eau Claire), it was a welcome combination of good bands, positive vibrations and lack of ironic t-shirts.