• “No shorts, man! What the [bleep!]” That’s how Matt Berninger of The National greeted Justin Vernon when the hometown boy joined the Brooklyn art-rock gurus, Vernon’s bared knees sharply contrasting with Berninger’s stylish pants, work shirt and vest combo. Berninger seemed out of sorts musically, though, forgetting lyrics as his band loosely made its way through one of its only concerts of 2015.
• “I don’t usually play festivals. I’m scared I’m going to get Lyme disease or an STD.” Sufjan Stevens made those comments to underline his appreciation for Eaux Claires, which he said seemed less like a typical rock fest and more like “a 48-hour episode of ‘My Little Pony.’ ”
• While Stevens memorably used the No BS! Brass Band to help reshape his hit “Chicago” with a disco-funk bend, North Carolina’s rising Americana star Hiss Golden Messenger (aka bandleader MC Taylor) best utilized the brass ensemble, adding a gospel tone to his spirited confessional songs. His was the festival’s nearest thing to a breakout performance.
• “This is the first time my grandma has gotten to see us play. Thanks for making me look good.” Eau Claire native Nick Sanborn certainly did come off well in front of family members with his excited synth-pop duo Sylvan Esso, playing to a crowd under The Dells big tent that rivaled the audiences at the two bigger main stages in size and sparked ample dancing and singing along. Minneapolis rapper Lizzo sparked a similar scene late Friday night after the National’s set, igniting a crowd that looked to be 8,000 or so strong.
• Lizzo was one of several Minnesotans rounding out the Eaux Claires lineup who busted out new songs for the occasion. Poliça and Haley Bonar each debuted a couple newbies on Saturday afternoon, too. Bonar’s snarling rocker “Stupid Face” sparked many a happy face. Best of the bunch was Duluth vets Low, whose dark tunes “DJ” and “Landslide” — both from the new “Ones and Sixes” album coming Sept. 11 — set the Dells tent ablaze amid the Friday afternoon swelter.
• “Be sure to drink lots of water and wear sunscreen.” Those weirdly motherly comments were made by the youngest performer on the lineup, St. Paul’s electro-whimper whippersnapper Corbin, aka Spooky Black. The 17-year-old singer’s weirdly sexual music made a little more sense as he transitioned to performing with a live backing band and showing off his own guitar-picking skills.
• “We didn’t think it was going to be this hot in Wisconsin.” So said Taylor Guarisco of the buoyantly rocking New Orleans band Givers, whose resilience in Saturday’s heat was outdone one set earlier by Charles Bradley. The 66-year-old Florida soul singer danced, bellowed and writhed his way through four songs before finally taking off his thick showman’s jacket. No shorts here, either.