Category Archives: memories

A love letter to Eaux Claires

ec1

I’m proud to say that last weekend I finally popped my music festival cherry at Eaux Claires. Seriously!? How is it that I’m 27 and never been to one? My friend M heard (all the way from California, mind you) about an under-the-radar festival Justin Vernon from Bon Iver was putting on. I was familiar enough with the headliners Bon Iver and The National so I checked out the rest of the music line-up. Not surprising to me I hardly knew anyone but I decided to go anyways. Open heart, open mind people! Here is a write-up I just submitted to the curators. (Mom and Dad — you may not want to read the third to last paragraph).

A Love Letter to Eaux Claires

For someone with no real music knowledge or festival experience, Eaux Claires was the perfect introduction into what I always imagined that experience should be like – a space for intimate, authentic, and clear moments to emerge. A place where the sensations and emotions those moments provoke lasts well after the last chords are strung and the sunburns fade.

I couldn’t have imagined the magnitude of how much my feet would hurt or my back would ache or the fact that no matter how Instagram worthy you think you look all you are is a hot, sweaty, hair plastered to your face mess. I can’t count the number of times I audibly groaned wondering how many more times I would have to make the trek up and down the steep tree-lined dirt path up to the Dells stage. Yet all that uncomfortableness was totally worth it because in a sea of 22,000 beating hearts, it hit me. We were all here for one reason. Music. The driving force behind unity and belonging. That which evokes feeling through action and which begs for action through feeling. The one thing that proves we don’t just exist, but that we truly live.

Although I couldn’t sing along to a majority of the songs and half-wondered why I was there given I knew very little about the Eaux Claires music line-up, my lack of musical knowledge allowed me to experience the festival in a unique way. What my mind, body and senses were in tune to extended beyond singing the lyrics of a song or how well I could hear the bass on stage. I think it’s what made my experience unforgettable.

With no preconceived notions I let myself be saturated with a diverse mix of music genres. I listened to those sounds with an open heart and mind and I became mindful of how the music affected me as well as how it affected others. I noticed facial expressions, the way people around me moved their bodies, how a guy stole longing glances at a girl he liked, the enigmatic energy between a group of friends as they belted out the words to their favorite song, and the sense of comradery and admiration between collaborating artists.

I mentally cataloged these moments and the emotions they triggered. And every time I sat down – next to the riverbanks or under a tree – I was inspired to write it all down. Just a few short phrases or words here and there about time, people, and spaces. As I sit here reflecting on and writing about my experience these are the words and the moments I carry with me.

The one that most vividly stands out is listening to Colin Stetson play his saxophone. Standing there, I was moved watching my friend as he closed his eyes and held his hand over his heart, feeling it beat in unison with the fluid and powerful vibrations those gravelly sounds held. It was as if the music came through you, automatic and unforgiving and in full force. If anyone standing there listening to Colin play didn’t feel the emotion and the imagery and the awakening of their soul as me and my friend did, then they must be dead.

Then there was Francis and the Lights. To find a word or phrase that fully encapsulates what seeing his set was like is difficult. The way Francis sang with his entire body, bouncing and spinning around the stage, you could see just how completely in the moment he was. His devotion and love of music transcended through him. I wish I had moves like his!

To say I became obsessed with Elliott Moss after seeing him live is an understatement. I’ve been jamming to their music non-stop since and I blame that entirely on the emotional whirlpool his song Slip put me through. Almost from the beginning I felt a sense of anguish and personal pain. It reminded me of giving up on someone – or something – which I imagine all of us can think back to a time in our lives where we shared similar sentiments. Standing there, swaying to the beat, I noticed the entire audience was transfixed and quiet during this particular song. Mesmerizing and haunting, I was left with goose bumps in the midst of a 90-degree humid day.

In my humble opinion, though, Spoon brought down the house. Drinking beers and vibing out, I watched in amusement as three girls in front of me went crazy for a song I have no idea what the name of is. Bodies rolling, they yelled “I love this song!” The pure rush of musical elation was seeping through every pore of their bodies. It was infectious. And like them, I surrendered my body to the music; I danced my god damn heart out.

At one point, a friend and I found solace in the shade to listen to Haley Bonar’s set. It was a simple and sweet thing to be lying there under a tree, staring into the branches. The sun peaked through rustling leaves and I was mesmerized by their beauty. It was here I understand how music might make us feel love. I certainly had all the feels.

I will say what intrigued me most, and which I certainly didn’t expect from a music festival, was the blending of music with other interactive art forms. Like Phox’s documentary film premiere or the geodome where I sat on the ground with headphones over my ears and watched as artists sang behind a translucent screen. Intimate and visually appealing, it made my experience one of a kind.

The final performance will forever be burned in my memory not just because Bon Iver’s song Skinny Love turned into a giant sing-along but because of the debut of two new songs, which a special someone and I made love to by the light installations lining the path to the St. Coix village. I like to believe the curators of Eaux Claires and the pastor with gold teeth would approve. We were active participants in our experience. And what greater compliment is there to a musician than to say your message inspired an expression of longing, connection, and love.

Talking about these moments with other Eaux Claires festival-goers has been fascinating. The entire musical line-up was fantastic, yet the moments that stick out to me and what sticks out to them varies widely. The one thing that unites all of us, though, is the fact we were having the best fucking time of our lives.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under art, Eaux Claires, friends, fun, memories, music, photos

Getting all sentimental

I recently read somewhere that images last forever but minds don’t.

It makes sense we wouldn’t necessarily have the capacity to remember all that has happened in our lives. Plus, you would think that more recent events are more important to the here and now than something that happened years ago. Of course, there is a sense of nostalgia that comes with being able to recall our past.

I had been wanting to go through old family photos in hopes of jogging some memories between the ages of 7 and 13. For whatever reason, I have vague memories during this time period and I find it frustrating at times to not be able to recall that part of my life. I even get a tad envious of my friends and family who are able to recall stories of their adventures and misadventures during their younger years fairly easily.

So, on a mission, I went home last weekend and enlisted the help of my parents to sit down with me and go through a number of boxes filled with what was probably thousands of photos. And boy did we find some gems!

What I loved most about going through the photos was being able to share some old memories. I particularly enjoyed seeing pictures and hearing stories of my parents, aunts, and uncles growing up. It seems like we have such a limited view of our parents as only having existed from the time we were born. We forget they had this whole other life before us and went through the same awkward stages, fashion faux pas, and heart breaks we did.

While I wasn’t able to recall much from the time period that feels lost to me my parents were able to fill in the gaps. Although it’s disappointing to not remember that part of my life, going through the photos gave me a greater appreciation for my family and along with it some sentimentality. It doesn’t matter how much time passes by photos will always be there telling a story – of a person, a scene, or of a family. We may think they are lost forever but they can certainly live again.

This is my momma. The only red head out of  six kids we often joke she is the mail man's daughter. I have a striking resemblance to her even now.

This is my momma. The only red head out of seven kids we often joke she is the mail man’s daughter. I bear a striking resemblance to her even now.

I treasure this photo from my first communion. My great grandmother is standing to my right and my great aunt stands to my left. Both have passed away. My great cousin (if that's the word) is on the far left and has dementia.

A little fuzzy but I treasure this photo from my first communion. My great grandmother is standing to my right and my great aunt stands to my left. Both have passed away. My great cousin (if that’s the word) is on the far left and has dementia.

My grandparents and their kids on the family farm. My mom is on the far left.

My grandparents and their kids on the family farm. My mom is on the far right and I believe this was shortly after my big brother Brandon was born.

I so love this photo of me and my childhood dog, Bailey. She was in our family from when I was 5 until I was 20.

I so love this photo of me and my childhood dog, Bailey. She was in our family from when I was 5 until I was 20. Pets are like family. She saw me through my teen angst.

My grandfather passed away when I was 13 and it was probably the first major depressive episode I went through. Few photos exist of us two but he was my favorite person ever. He had the biggest belly and I used to hug him, my arms barely reaching around his stomach. He had a deep hearted laugh that I still remember to this day.

My grandfather passed away when I was 13 and it was probably the first major depressive episode I went through. Few photos exist of us two but he was my favorite person ever. He had the biggest belly and I used to hug him, my arms barely reaching around his stomach. He had a deep hearted laugh that I still remember to this day.

Always a rock star!

I still break out these dance moves. Always a rock star!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under family, memories, photos