Eaux Claires Festival was put on in an area called the Chippewa Valley in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for the first time this past summer to much fodder. The backdrop of Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver‘s mastermind) relatively new festival is isolated and perfect – an ideal place to host a curated, indie festival.
Vernon cultivated a lyrical roster that featured a vast array of artists – some with visible and audible grit and others with incandescently pure pitch and tone, who even if they tried couldn’t sound anything less than a symphony of angels (I’m looking at you Staves.)
His effort to bring together a roster of artists who make people feel and emote came to fruition this past summer as bands like Spoon, Sufjan Stevens and The National flocked to a part of the US that doesn’t often get attention for its music scene or culture.
The festival poster featured the name of every single artist performing, in the same font and letter size, which may not mean much at first mention. For perspective – the poster on the left lists The National exactly as No BS! Brass Band. The poster on the right, from 2014’s Firefly Festival (DE), obviously has every right to blow up the Foo Fighter – but Breach the Summit has 0 shot at really being seen in high regard. If Vernon sees No BS! as an equivalent, but simply lesser-known band of equal talent, then psychologically, I’ll give them more of a shot and be more open to watching their set.
Half the reason festivals exist is to provide a platform for bands people haven’t heard yet so when you cater to Jack Johnson and Imagine Dragons’, already extensive fan-base – it’s only feeding to the money machine and the ad-dominated element of these gatherings, which might be indicative of modern society – but shouldn’t be the purpose of a festival of any real, emotional merit.
Vernon’s middle finger to advertising schemes and methods that draw potential concert-goers attention to bigger names was, ironically, a brilliant PR move. The “I don’t care to sell-out” ended up allowing him to generate press because of it’s reversal of socially accepted methods of PR and outreach. Eaux Claires became the anti-over-sponsored festival and thus, became branded as one of the only authentic ones we have left.
Not only did Vernon shed light on great musicians – he did what Glastonbury, Coachella and Reading & Leeds are so famous for doing and what sets them apart from other music festivals of a now even larger caliber have done – they showcased the geography of the event; allowing it to transcend to a gathering that was a catalyst to travel, community and to an environment where audiences could get lost in a foreign place – without ever buying a ticket overseas.
Breach the Summit has changed their name to Armors – check them out!