Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy performs during the band's first set of the weekend.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Several thousand people poured into Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday for the Solid Sound Festival, headlined by the Chicago band Wilco.
Although familiar faces were abundant — such as Kathy Keeser conducting volunteers and David Bond, a city councilor, shouting, "Get your hot dogs here," from the Rotary Club vender tent — fans from all over the country turned up for the concert.
Jeffery Boykin traveled "non-stop, solo, 12 1/2 hours to Vermont" from Raleigh, N.C. for his second Solid Sound Festival. The first festival was also his first trip ever to New England and he bought tickets for the second round, but bailed on the stormy forecast, which he regretted — but a mistake he will never repeat.
"It's great, the people are lovely," Boykin said of his experiences in the city.
Repeat visitors were common. A young family from Tyngsborough enjoy their regular trip to Solid Sound Festival — this one being the third — and the surrounding artist community.
"North Adams is cool, this and Williamstown," said Warren Allgrove, who attended with his wife, Bethany, and son Warren "Ren" Allgove. "It's a good artist community like Lowell — old mills turned into artist lofts."
Local businesses saw some spill over from the festival. Desperados owner David Atwell saw a busy morning and a steady, busy day and night vending on site.
"The restaurant opened at 11, by 11:30 we had a full house, all out-o- town people," Atwell said, noting he saw really positive energy from the visitors and community.
Jonathan Del Sordo, an employee at Mass MoCA who helped check in campers at the H.A. George campsite, said he felt the same energy, both from festival-goers and residents a like.
"Everybody is in the greatest mood," Del Sordo said.
Only a couple fans might have experienced some playful jabbing, like the fan who traveled from Wilco's stomping grounds in Illinois donning a Chicago Blackhawks shirt in Bruins territory.
Mark and Bruce Marino, two brothers living in Baltimore and Cleveland respectively, are spending the weekend together in the name of Wilco. After Bruce Marino took time planning and mostly "convincing his wife to go to the beach," he said jokingly, his brother jumped on board immediately.
And for good reason — the first day alone featured the energetic four-piece group White Denim before the Relatives brought a solid, gospel sound to Joe's Field.
Then fittingly, when Wilco took the stage for its all-request set, the band opened with Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town" to a sea of fans, marking the return of Solid Sound weekend.
Wilco's Solid Sound Fest Tickets Now On Sale
Staff Reports On: 10:50AM / Friday November 30, 2012
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Tickets for the 2013 Solid Sound Festival went on sale Friday with an "early worm special."
Tickets for the three-day festival organized by Wilco are $99 in limited quantity now and when they sell out, another batch of limit quantity tickets will be $124 and eventually $149. They are available here.
The festival featuring musicians, artists and comedians begins on Friday, June 21, and will conclude on Sunday, June 23, at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
A full lineup has not yet been announced. Campsites at Noel Field, dubbed "Solid Ground," will also return with sites for $90 per tent — with a maximum of four people per tent — and $120 for an RV.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Those having a Wilco withdrawal because of the absence of Solid Sound Festival this year have a chance to catch them in a benefit performance on Tuesday, July 31.
The band returns to the Hunter Center at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the nonprofit museum. Tickets will be sold by a "name your price" auction and a lottery.
Capacity is capped at 1,000, with general admission and a standing-room only configuration. The benefit is courtesy of Wilco, with additional support from Higher Ground Presents.
"On a different and more intimate scale than Wilco's other New England appearances, this will be a rare opportunity to feel Wilco's 'whole love' up close," said Mass MoCA Director Joseph Thompson. "The museum galleries will be open until 30 minutes before the performance that evening for those who want to take in some art as part of their visit."
The first 500 tickets will be sold to bidders who make the highest offers at www.massmoca.org/wilco_benefit.php over a 2 1/2 day period that begins at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 13, and runs through 10 a.m. on Monday, April 16.
To maximize the chance of getting tickets — and also support Mass MoCA — bidders are being encourged to make the highest offer they can. Those whose bids are not among the top 500 will still have a chance to score tickets to this performance when their bid is placed into a random lottery. Bidders drawn from a hat will be offered the opportunity to purchase a pair of tickets at the price named on their bid form.
"It's an experiment, which we hope proves to be more civilized, more fair, and more fun than the standard mode of ticket sales," said Thompson, "And we hope it brings Mass MoCA the strong charitable support which is at the heart of this special evening."
Wilco has been curating the popular Solid Sound Festival at the museum, which includes music, comedy, art and culture. The two festivals so far have drawn upwards of 5,000 to the three-day events but the planned annual event was put off until next year because of scheduling.
The main draw has been Wilco, which has performanced at least twice at each festival and whose members have participated in workshops and demonstrations throughout the festival weekends. The festival returns to Mass MoCA on June 21, 2013.
Wilco's latest album, the Grammy-nominated "The Whole Love" is out now on the band's own dBpm Records.
Solid Sound Solid Success
By: Tammy Daniels On: 10:46AM / Tuesday June 28, 2011
Ponchos were the de rigeur fashion at Solid Sound Festival this weekend.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The second annual Solid Sound Festival started soggy but ended with sunshine as more than 6,000 music lovers descended on sleepy North Adams for three days of Wilco-selected fun.
There's no doubt the influx (nearly half the city's population) was a boon to business. There were lines to get into restaurants and the number of feet on the street was remarkable. They filled up hotels and motels throughout the area and some 230 campsites at "Solid Ground" at Noel Field.
The festival was a family affair for many.
The Hub did a record 514 covers (last we knew) by the wee hours of Sunday morning; more than 300 old '60s and '70s vinyl albums flew out of Empire Antiques. Inside the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, there were lines at the locally-operated food booths. The Rotary had sold more than half their 3,000 hot dogs by mid-Saturday afternoon. Despite the 150 kegs rolled into the campus, Public Safety Director E. John Morocco said there had been no incidents.
Fans of alt-rock Wilco came from near and far and ranged from the sharply dressed to those in casual shorts and T-shirts, from the stroller to the gray-haired. Children were ubiquitous - being pushed and carried, dancing and playing.
Amy Joyce of Albany, N.Y., was there on Saturday afternoon with her husband and three children ages 2,4 and 6. Both Wilco fans, the couple had driven in for two days. The constant rain hadn't deterred them; a lot of the activities for the kids were inside Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, she said
Classic vinyl was in demand.
We're more than happy to be here to see them," said Joyce, adding they'd come last year was well. "We made a weekend out of it."
The Joyces had opted for a motel over a campsite. "We're not that brave!" laughed Joyce.
Festivalgoers huddled under umbrellas and the numerous "skyways" dating from the complex's days as a mill, and sported the fashion of the day: ponchos in bright primary colors and mud boots (for the hardier, sandals and no protection). As the music moved through the several outdoor venues, the crowd flowed forward to surround each stage, stomping through puddles.
"This is awesome, everything is awesome," said Ken Williams, who'd driven from Somerville to spend a soggy weekend at Solid Ground. Williams, "a big Wilco fan," had missed last year's festival and had to hear about it secondhand from a friend. "So I had to come this year."
He had nothing but praise for the festival, the area and the people. "I've never been to North Adams before. It would have been better if the weather was nicer ... but it's a beautiful place."
The band thanked their fans for being so devoted.
Friend Liz Sussky of Amherst, who'd come to spend the day, chimed in it "was a beautiful drive up here." Both said they would definitely return.
On Saturday night, a brief thunderboomer had MoCA volunteers herding the crowd into the protection of the galleries, an emergency procedure worked out in case bad weather struck. But the thunder was the last gasp — the skies (almost) cleared and fans moved back into muddy Joe's Field to hear Wilco's second performance of the festival.
Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy nodded to their dedication, telling the sea of bobbing heads: "thank you for being so devoted and standing in the rain. ... Thank you, so much."
Afterwards — seven encores afterwards — the crowd spilled out onto Main Street as the city stayed up late to party.
Still, there were a few people wondering, like the elderly lady who spotted my photo press pass on Saturday night, "What's a Wilco?" After a second successful festival, no one should be left questioning the windfall that is Wilco.
Wilco met with the media in the Katharina Grosse exhibit inside the museum before the second Solid Sound Festival kicked off.
Wilco members Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche said the Berkshires have become the other half of the band's base with their management opening shop in the next county over in Northampton.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshires is considered a second home to the band Wilco.
"A tentacle of our global operations has planted itself firmly in the Berkshires. Our management, our longtime manager, made a home here in Northampton so a lot of things have grown around that operation," band leader Jeff Tweedy said during a meeting with the press Friday prior to the kick off of the Solid Sound Festival. "Chicago is where we work and record the records and rehearse and this area is where all of the other types of decisions are made."
The band returned to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts on Friday for the three-day long festival. While the festival draws thousands of people, it is still minor in comparisons to other major festivals in the country — exactly the way Wilco wants it.
"I love the scale. I don't really have any aspirations to outgrow the [museum]. Last year, we could have obviously accommodated more people," bassist John Stirratt said. "This is the antidote of the big rock concert. All I aspire to is to keep going and get more of our friends here to play."
The band's even selected Mass MoCA and the festival for the release of its first single under its new self-label. The 7-inch vinyl is on sale for $8.
Museum Executive Director Joseph Thompson said the museum is very proud to continue being the host.
"We are really, really proud to be the host of Wilco. The band is very near the core of our DNA at Mass MoCA," Thompson said. "We just couldn't imagine a better group of people."
Instead of playing the larger festivals, the band is curating its own festival for the second year in a row. When asked to explain why, pianist Mikael Jorgensen responded, "Why not?" Guitarist Nels Cline said that by curating their own festival, they get a chance to direct the whole weekend.
"I think a lot of our bands wouldn't necessarily be invited to the big festivals so it's kind of nice to be able to invite ourselves to our own festival," Tweedy said. "It's all stuff that we have some connection to or if we haven't made contact with, it's bands we'd like to make contact with."
Stirratt said the band would love to invite every band they have known but they are not getting ahead of themselves. Tweedy said the band will not even begin to think about next year's festival until this year's is complete (and the "pain of planning" it has passed).
However, the festival has already shown growth with an additional Friday night set by the band and the Solid Ground tent set up at Noel Field. The festival is also being held earlier in the year.
"It rained a lot more this year than last year. It did rain last year but not as much," Glenn Kotche, drummer, said.
Thompson said the show will go on rain or shine. If the weather gets very bad the audience will be ushered inside temporarily but the show will continue on right after.