In its third year, the Wisconsin-based music festival Eaux Claires continued its tradition of bringing together artists from across the world for a slew of astonishing live performances. Focusing on artist collaboration, experimentation and exploration, the festival fuzed genres ranging from folk and indie rock to classical and hip-hop.
Festival curators Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Aaron Dessner of The National christened both days of the two-day jamboree with People Mixtape Vol. 1 & 2—a highly collaborative set of unfinished music performed by artists from various groups set to perform at Eaux Claires.
People Mixtape Vol. 1 served as a sneak peak for Big Red Machine—a sort of indie super-group formed by Vernon and Dessner. Premiering new music with the help of other Eaux Claires performers, the newly formed group blended elements from indie, rock, ambient and house music into one beautiful soundscape.
Vernon’s 22, A Million-esque vocals were as bone-chilling as ever. Only Vernon and Dessner know if the music will ever be released, but I think it’s safe to say that nearly everyone who saw the two amazing Big Red Machine sets wholeheartedly hope that it gets released.
People Mixtape Vol. 2 was much more experimental. Members of Sad Sax and s-t-a-r-g-a-z-e joined Vernon and Dessner on stage to perform a set of deconstructed house music filled with jarring but calming feedback scattered throughout.
Keeping with the spirit of collaboration, chamber orchestra ensemble s-t-a-r-g-a-z-e played a role in several sets over the two days.
Music For The Long Emergency—a collaborative piece fuzing Poliçia and s-t-a-r-g-a-z-e’s respective musical styles—embodied the feeling of a society inching closer and closer toward dystopia. Gorgeously layered synths and booming drums set the backdrop for violins so eerie it seemed as if there was no hope for humanity.