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Recap: Eaux Claires 2015, Day 2

By Collin Quinlivan, September 2nd 2015

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Bon Iver

I got to the woods earlier in order to peruse the wares and marvels of Eaux Claries’ food and shops. Almost all of the offerings were from local proprietors, including the beer. There were a wealth of options to choose from, favoring any palate. A number of art installations scattered about the grounds drew in curious patrons in between sets. I was really stunned at how beautiful the location was, set amongst the forest and against the banks of the Chippewa. And thankfully, the rain held off and the day ended up being perfect.

One thing I was very enthused with was the demographics of the attendees. Music festivals tend to be populated with (post) college-aged people, but I saw many different ages meandering around, both young and old. A dedicated area for children under a shaded tent was provided, along with performances by Grandma Sparrow to entertain them. Well, that’s what was intended, but it seemed like a lot of twenty-somethings stopped to watch the bizarre, yet catchy show. Everyone I met was extremely friendly, varying from locals, to Minnesotans, to people from far far away. A favorite moment was overhearing a couple ripping on Terminal 5, and instantly befriending them (No hard feelings).

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Elliot Moss

I first headed to the Dells to watch Elliot Moss, another New York native, who absolutely killed his set. He only has a freshman album out, but everyone in the audience knew all the lyrics and were treated to a soulful show. I then headed back down the hill to catch Haley Bonar’s set, which suffered from some technical difficulties at the start, but came out to end strongly. I had heard from a local that Phox was a must-see, so I made it my next show. The band originates from Wisconsin, and actually recorded their first album at Justin Vernon’s home studio in Eau Claire. In addition to playing a set, their short film ‘Amor Fati’ premiered in an artful projection–a hybrid documentary and fictional narrative about the band’s beginnings. I have to say, I was very impressed with their show. They probably should have been booked on one of the larger stages at the festival. Afterwards, I stayed put to see Sylvan Esso, another crowd favorite. While their setup is fairly minimalistic, Amealia Meath’s sick dance moves had the audience on their toes.
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Recap: Eaux Claires 2015, Day 1

By Collin Quinlivan, September 1st 2015

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Exit the suburbs of New York, and enter the long, straight roads banked by endless fields of crops and forests. Not a few hundred miles from my destination, I already saw hints of festival-goers on the road and at rest stops. Cars packed with people and things, “Eaux Yeah!” painted on the rearview window. We were all descending upon the little city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Eaux Claires is the brainchild of Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, an Eau Claire native himself, and Aaron Dessner of The National. Being the inaugural year of the festival, expectations were tall and wide. We were not disappointed.

Many festivals today have become so large that they’ve lost sight of what the experience should be about. Maybe it’s selling out, maybe it’s an inevitability of the medium. So many things try to promote authenticity, but end up merely emulating it. Eaux Claires didn’t have this problem. The very foundation of the festival was about collaboration, with multiple artists bring other artists onto the stage to perform with them. I’ve been to other, larger events where the sets have become carbon copies and non-engaging. No, this was as refreshing as the clear waters of the Chippewa River.

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I started off my day with The Lone Bellow, the alt-country/indie folk band from Brooklyn. It was sort of impromptu, but I was very impressed with their set. I then caught Sturgill Simpson before camping out at the Lake Eaux Lune stage for The Staves, Spoon, and finally The National. This was pretty much the universal idea in the crowd. Once again, The National put on a powerful, raw show that had the audience traveling through a range of emotions. During ‘I Need My Girl’, a very quiet moment in the set, I noticed a nearby man turn around and drop to one knee in front of his girlfriend. I’ve seen a lot of things in festival crowds, but never a marriage proposal…it was a perfect moment. Continuing with the theme of collaboration, Matt Berninger brought out multiple artists throughout the set: Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon, members of The Staves to name a few. I’m not sure how much planning went into this, but it worked out beautifully. Afterwards, I walked through the woods to the Dells stage, hoping to catch Boys Noize, but found it so packed that I abandoned the idea.

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I left the grounds feeling completely satisfied with the first day, and praying that the following day’s rain would hold off.

Find some photos of the performances below, as well as shots throughout the festival grounds.

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The Lone Bellow:

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Sturgill Simpson:

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The Staves:

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Spoon:

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The National:

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Reptar at Rough Trade NYC (July 17, 2015)

By Will Oliver, September 1st 2015

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On July 17 Athens, Georgia rockers Reptar played a late night set at Rough Trade NYC, showing off some of the material from their most recent release, Lurid Glow, which was released earlier this year via Joyful Noise Recordings.

Their unique and energetic blend of weirdo rock was a unstoppable ball of energy live. Their sound was raised to another level live thanks to a horn section that played by their side, which sometimes included members of Rubblebucket, who occasionally joined to add on to the already stacked arsenal. It was a delightfully fun set that was perfectly appropriate to let out past midnight.

Find some photos from their performance posted below.
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Ratatat at Webster Hall (July 17, 2015)

By Will Oliver, September 1st 2015

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Not too long after their performance at Governors Ball, electronic-rock duo Ratatat returned to New York for a very sold out performance at Webster Hall on July 17. The show served as the official release show for their new album Magnifique, which was released that same day via XL Recordings.

There’s no doubt that the duo of Mike Stroud and Evan Mast would have no problem filling out a larger space such as Terminal 5 with their electronic rock instrumentals. So geting to see them comfortably play a place like Webster Hall was most certainly a treat.

The group play with a deep fog hanging above them, but dazzle the audience with a jaw-dropping laser show that coincides way too well with their grooves. The band have a way of connecting to fans in a unique way, with crowd response heightening with every big bass hit or memorable guitar riff. Crowd favorites “Seventeen Years” and “Wildcat” were particular highlights of the night, with no lull in the gratifying 19-song effort.

The stage will certainly be much bigger the next time Ratatat come around, but there is no doubt that it won’t still be a most electric evening.

Find more photos from their performance at Webster Hall posted below, along with their setlist.
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Leave it to longstanding rockers Foo Fighters to turn a bad situation such as their frontman Dave Grohl breaking his leg before a massive tour, only to return with a Game Of Thrones inspired throne (with guitar necks instead of swords), able to take him from the back of the stage to the front of the crowd while he’s sitting down, all with the help of modern technology. Then again, the Foo Fighters just always seem to find a way to succeed, don’t they?

Not many modern bands are capable of truly selling out a major stadium. Don’t tell that to the Foo Fighters, who sold out not one, but two nights at Citi Field, just one of the many stadiums that they rocked this summer for their Sonic Highways tour. They brought along rising British duo Royal Blood to open up the pair of shows at Citi Field.

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SOAK at Le Poisson Rogue (July 14, 2015)

By Will Oliver, September 1st 2015

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In mid July Bridie Monds-Watson, an 18-year-old singer from Ireland, better known as SOAK, wrapped up her American tour with a performance in New York at Le Poisson Rogue. The LPR stage was converted to a circle in the middle of the venue, creating a strange set up for Monds-Watson, who admitting it was a first for her.

Playing tracks from her beautiful debut album Before We Forgot How to Dream (released via Rough Trade), Monds-Watson delighted the hushed New York crowd. Her songs are honest reflections about coming of age, delivering with the same honesty that caught our attention to begin with. It’s amazing to hear such a young talent seem so mature and fully realized so soon. Things are only going to get bigger and better for SOAK in the immedaitely future, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Find some photos from her performance, as well as opener Beau posted below.
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Preview: Basilica Soundscape 2015

By Will Oliver, August 28th 2015

Basilica

It’s only fitting that the Basilica Soundscape festival takes place as summer turns to fall, as this festival is much different than the large-scale festivals that take place across the country during the summer. Not only is it’s location in the industrial Basilica Hudson building in Hudson, New York a much more intimate affair in set up, but it’s lineup is as unique as you’ll find at any festival out there.

This year the festival sports a lineup as diverse and interesting as they come: The Haxan Cloak, HEALTH, Perfume Genius, Viet Cong, Jenny Hval, Lydia Ainsworth, Weyes Blood, Actress, Wolf Eyes, and many more. The festival, in it’s 4th year, features curation from Basilica Hudson’s founders, Melissa Auf der Maur and Tony Stone, along with Pitchfork managing editor Brandon Stosuy and Brian DeRan of Leg Up Management.

Last year was my first time up to the festival (as well as Hudson, New York – a 2 hour train ride, or drive from the city), and I was impressed in every way imaginable. Not only does it features a wide range of artists, but there’s something cool about seeing bands in an industrial building. Everyone there is for the music, enjoying a bite to eat, a beer, or taking in some art. There are no flags, flower crowns, or go pros. It’s a festival without all the music festival headaches.

You can find photos and a recap of last year’s festival right here. Both two-day, and single day tckets for the festival are still currently available at this link. You can find more information about the festival at their website, facebook, instagram and twitter.

I’ve also shared the lineup and set times in full below.
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Natalie Prass at Bowery Ballroom (July 13, 2015)

By Will Oliver, August 27th 2015

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Last month Natalie Prass played to a sold out Bowery Ballroom, the rescheduled show from her postponed performance in May, which she had to cancel right during doors because of an illness that left her unable to perform. It wasn’t too long a wait, and if anything, the show had one of those “we’re all in it together” sort of feelings which always makes any show better.

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Brooklyn band Wilder Maker opened the show, as they were originally booked to in May as well. They joked about finally getting to play the show, and were just happy for it to finally arrive. They delivered a warm set of indie-folk, with a calming, almost timeless factor to it. They delivered it in a tight fashion, impressing all those lucky enough to arrive early enough for their set.

Even though I just saw Natalie Prass perform at Rough Trade NYC not all that long ago, I had to catch her again. Her self-titled album (released via Spacebomb Records/Columbia Records) has served as her breakthrough, captivating large-scale audiences such as Bowery Ballroom.

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With more time with the record, the Bowery crowd was singing along to every word, making Prass feel right at home. Her record pops out of the speakers live, working it’s magic all over again. Songs like “Bird Of Play” and the almost too good to be true “Why Don’t You Believe in Me ” come to a crisper, fuller realization when played live. She worked in her scarily good cover of Janet Jackson’s “Any Time, Any Place” and showcased a few new songs. She even was kind enough to throw out a bunch of bananas to fans who were in need. What else could you ask from a Monday night?

Find the setlist posted below, along with photos of both Natalie Prass, and Wilder Maker.
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Over the years you can always rely on 4Knots Festival (as well as the Siren Music Festival before the change) to book some great classic rock bands. Last year we got Dinosaur Jr. and one of the headliners this year was Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks.

It was my frist time seeing Malkmus play in any capacity, a little bit of redemption after missing Pavement’s reunion shows thanks to college, although that one will always hurt. But it was great to see the master at work, effortlessly breezing through his catalog, including his latest effort, Wig Out at Jagbags, which Matador released last year.

Find some more photos from their 4Knots performance posted below.
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Twin Peaks at 4Knots Music Festival 2015

By Will Oliver, August 27th 2015

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One of the sets I was most looking forward to at 4Knots this year was from the exciting as all hell Chicago rockers Twin Peaks. It’s scary to think that these guys are really only getting started, as they’re one of my favorite up and coming rockers in the game at the moment.

Not only did Twin Peaks, who extended their lineup to a 5-piece, live up to my lofty expectations, but they somehow went beyond it. The group ripped through a set, sending all the youngsters in the front rows into a blissful shitshow. Twin Peaks made it look so easy, and so fun. The set was my favorite performance of the entire day, which is saying something considering that Stephen Malkmus and Super Furry Animals were still on deck. But when a show ends with the group going into the photo pit as they finish their last riff, it’s a pretty difficult thing to top.

Twin Peaks are currently recording their new album, which will be released soon enough via Fat Possum. They’ll return to New York soon enough for a supporting slot

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