Solid Sound Festival: Wilco takes over MASS MoCA

Wilco has already begun taking over the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The three-day Solid Sound Festival, curated by Wilco, starts Friday.

A weekend of music and art, side by side in the Berkshires

If you haven’t made your weekend plans yet, you really should think about heading to the Berkshires for the Solid Sound Festival in North Adams, Mass.

Solid Sound is the band Wilco‘s takeover of the entire complex occupied by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), a fantastic 19th Century factory complex with an ever-changing lineup of modern art.


While the museum is no stranger to hosting music events and other performing arts, the Solid Sound Festival is likely the first event that turns over the entire place — in fact, a good chunk of downtown North Adams, to a single event. As the museum website notes:

Just want to visit the galleries? We recommend you come a different weekend.

We anticipate that more than 5000 people will attend the Wilco Solid Sound Festival August 14 + 15. While the galleries will be open to non-festival goers that weekend, visitors who are looking for a contemplative time in the galleries and easy parking should visit us on a different weekend or arrive as early in the day as possible.

Starting at 8 on Friday night, the complex will be filled with thousands of Wilco fans intent on seeing their favorite band’s only East Coast show of the summer. But this event is special, because Wilco has managed to line up a place where all its side projects and friends’ bands can play too.

If you can’t make it to the festival, or even if you’re there, be sure to check back for updates on Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? and our Twitter feed.

(Festival details and links after the jump.)

I won’t list all the bands in the festival lineup (download the full schedule here), but highlights among the non-Wilco bands include: Sir Richard Bishop, The Books, Vetiver, Mavis Staples, The Baseball Project, Mountain Man and Brenda.

Traditional trio Mountain Man, seen here at NYC's Mercury Lounge in May, from Bennington, Vt., is one of the non-Wilco bands on the festival schedule. (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Then there are the side projects: The Autumn Defense (John Stiratt and Pat Sansone), The Nels Cline Singers (Nels Cline) and On Fillmore (Glenn Kotche).

Solid Sound Festival participants will have the run of of the place until Sunday night. There will be bands, comedians, movies, kids’ activities and all sorts of related things going on in the courtyards, in the Hunter Center performance space, on Joe’s Field (not usually a place where museum visitors get to go) and even in the galleries.

The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., did a nice interview with Jeff Tweedy, Wilco’s frontman, about how this all came about.

Tickets are still $91 and still available — for the full weekend only; no day passes are being sold. But they get you into the art galleries on all three days in addition to the music, comedy and other events.

Accommodations, always in short supply in the area when there’s an opening or special event at MASS MoCA, are booked solid for miles around. But the Berkshire Vistors Bureau will do all it can to assist you. If you’re prepared to travel a bit to the festival site, you’ll find spacious lots and shuttle service all around town.


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