Cloud Cult performs for Earth Week


Story by Zack Katz, Copy Editor

Twirling canvases, flying paint and a small army of multifaceted instrumentalists all came together Sunday night during Cloud Cult’s dynamic, visual performance in Schofield Auditorium.

In an effort to bring light to Earth Day during the university’s week-long celebration of the planet, the Student Office of Sustainability hosted the Minneapolis experimental art-rock collective for an overwhelmingly successful free show.

The concert, open for students as well as the public, was opened by bluesy, energetic punk-rockers The Heart Pills, an Eau Claire-native quartet.

After the Wisconsinites’ set, Cloud Cult took the stage offering a variety of instrumentation with a veteran sound, which has developed over their 19 years of touring and releasing music since forming in 1994.

As an environmental science alumni of the University of Minnesota, band founder Craig Minowa said he was pleased to see some of the ecologically friendly aspects of campus.

“We were really amazed at the great changes the sustainability group has brought to campus,” Minowa said. “It’s nice to see things like bottle filling stations and LED lights here in Eau Claire.”

Thematically, the group was founded in part on ideas in reference to conservation of the environment.

“The name ‘Cloud Cult’ references some ancient prophecies that discuss the necessity for balance between technology and nature,” Minowa said.

Minowa’s label, Earthology Records, was formed in 1997 on his organic farm. Using only recycled material, the non-profit label donates all profits to charity.

While the group’s use of strings, horns, percussion and a number of electronic tones is impressively developed, Cloud Cult sets themselves apart through their unique use of live artists.

Minowa’s wife, Connie Minowa, along with Scott West, provide a visual backdrop for Cloud Cult by painting on large, spinning canvases throughout the duration of the band’s set.

Cloud Cult auctioned off Connie Minowa’s and West’s paintings after the performance, as is tradition for the group.

Victoria Zelinski, a freshman art major, said she considers music to be the only form of art that can move and inspire, so the performance’s visual nature was easy for her to identify with.

“The visual arts are rarely incorporated in musical performances past the typical fancy light shows and visual cues,” Zelinski said. “So I think the fact that they gave the artists a starring position to express their emotion added an extra layer to the show.”

Sophomore philosophy major Nathan Taylor agreed the band’s artistic qualities were impressive, but said he was most struck by the band’s energy during the performance.

“Schofield is a fairly small venue considering all of their equipment,” Taylor said. “But there was such a frenetic energy when they played that couldn’t be ignored … it was easy to lose yourself in the show.”

Moving forward, Craig Minowa said Cloud Cult will be playing a number of summer festivals, and continue to tour this fall.

“I’m amazed and thankful our music has spread so far and that people are finding some good in it,” he said. “Our Eau Claire performance was a beautiful experience for us.”