We should have known something was up when fall came and went without any lineup news, but now it’s official: Eaux Claires is taking 2019 off.
The Eau Claire-based music festival, which was founded by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner, announced on its website Monday that it intends to reboot itself. Part of this means taking next year off.
In a statement that compared the experience to “something like going through four years of high school,” the Eaux Claires organizers asked for fans’ patience:
“After our Senior year, we find ourselves wanting to move out, change things, and take stock of who we’ve become. In order to manage this transition, we are going to take a year off. While it will be hard for us to break the chain of momentum and the positive impact the festival has had on our community, we have fresh, clear ideas of how to make it even better.”
One of these ideas is to move the festival site from Foster Farms, the Union, Wisc. location that was Eaux Claires’ home for the last four years. Organizers now want to centralize everything in downtown Eau Claire, at sites like Phoenix Park and the new Pablo Center and Haymarket Plaza.
“We want to celebrate EVEN MORE about this REAL TOWN we call home by extolling and imagining things we haven’t seen or experienced to date.”
This comes after a 2018 incarnation that, in keeping with high school metaphors, saw many fans wishing to stuff the organizers inside of a locker. The lineup was kept secret until the day the gates opened, and it lacked the star power of the previous three years. Accordingly, Eaux Claires’ fourth year saw its lowest attendance yet, likely spurning the desire to change.
Meanwhile, Justin Vernon will be using his gap year to take Bon Iver on the road, with his band’s only scheduled U.S. date currently being his Summerfest debut. Like-minded indie darlings Lord Huron and Julien Baker will open, so think of this as the 2019 Eaux Claires Road Show.