Joe's Field was packed for Saturday night's Wilco performance. Left, Natalie Barnes was one of 15 'talk to a townie' volunteers. She didn't have too many people walking up to her asking questions, but rather found herself 'spilling information' while waiting in lines.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — They came, they rocked, they ate, they shopped.
Some 7,500 to 8,100 music fans descended on the city at the height of the Solid Sound Festival at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts this weekend.
The visitors filled parking lots, campgrounds and restaurants in the downtown area over the three-day weekend.
That economic impact in the city was important, but not as much as the impression they'll be leaving with.
"The message they bring back home is priceless," said Mayor Richard Alcombright on Sunday morning, as residents and visitors strolled the street market on Main Street. "They're bringing that message home to Montana, Newfoundland .. New Brunswick ... they came from all over the country."
The mayor said he'd spent some two hours at the Solid Ground campground at Noel Field Athletic Complex talking with festivalgoers who'd expressed their appreciation of the city and the welcome they'd received from residents.
"I think it gets better each and every time," he said, pointing to the increase in attendance. "From the last one, there's a noticeable difference."
The beautiful weather may had much to do with the higher traffic volume after the last festival's wet weekend. On Saturday night, a Wilco fans packed onto a dry Joe's Field, sprawling on blankets setting up lawn chairs or just swaying to the beat.
They happily hooted in return to the whistle of a train heading into the Little Tunnel and then roared as Wilco took the stage.
Far in the back was Wilco Command, headquartered in Pittsfield's mobile police command center. Police, fire and ambulance personnel were operating out of the center and ambulances were stationed nearby for the exit onto West Main Street.
Closer to the action was a first aid station run by North Adams Ambulance Service with four-wheelers borrowed from the North Adams and Florida fire departments — a way to get patients from the crowded venue to the ambulances.
General Manager John Meaney Jr. said they'd been treating mostly scrapes and bumps but several concertgoers had been taken out Friday night (and a number on Saturday night) for a variety of reasons, including a little too much festival fun.
"We're prepared and ready," said Meaney on Saturday night.
North Adams Rotary ran through 5,000 hot dogs by Saturday evening.
Despite the thousands of people over the past three concerts, Alcombright said by Sunday morning, no arrests had been made.
"This speaks volumes to everyone one who is involved in this weekend," said the mayor.
Concertgoers tried to express their appreciation with their wallets. "We had people trying to give us $20 for a Band-Aid," said Meaney. "We told them no, that's not necessary."
That generosity made an impression on City Councilor David Bond, who had volunteered at the North Adams Rotary tent selling hot dogs and soda.
"Within the first hour, we made $150 in tips," said Bond, who was gratified that "everybody's wallet was flowing" to help the causes the Rotary supports.
They also emptied the Rotary of hot dogs on Saturday — all 5,000 they had.
Wild Oats Market was also running on empty by the time Wilco took the stage. Gregory Roach said he'd made sure to bring twice as much as last time but that still wasn't enough. "I don't know what I'm going to feed them tomorrow," he joked.
Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Maloney said the festival had been a positive for the city, including his wife, Nichole's, bakery Luma's Muffin & Mug, which had a line waiting for it to open.
"I've never sliced so many bagels in my life," he said.
Area Residents Encouraged Downtown for Solid Sound Weekend
By Tammy Daniels On: 08:03PM / Monday June 17, 2013
Local officials stressed that the event, oft-dubbed "Wilco Weekend," is also an occasion for area residents to enjoy the many activities and late-night openings being planned in the downtown with the hope they will be dancing in the streets come Thursday night.
"Sometimes I think people in the community get lost in the sense that this isn't for us," said Mayor Richard Alcombright at a meeting Monday afternoon with some of the events coordinators. "I think we really have to send the message that it's for everyone."
Some 7,000 to 8,000 festivalgoers from 48 states and four countries will begin descending on Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art — and the city — beginning Thursday through Sunday.
The number's on the increase from the band Wilco's first curated festival held in 2010, when more than 5,000 attended the three-day event that mixes musical performances, talks and art installations at Mass MoCA. The festival took a year off last year.
But while thousands are heading into Mass Moca, there'll be plenty of activities for both area residents and visitors off-campus, including the kickoff of Downstreet Art on Thursday night.
The opening of the summerlong gallery series is a week early to take advantage of the Solid Sound draw.
Jonathan Secor, director of Massachusetts College of Liberal Art's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, said he knew of a number of visitors coming a day early to include Downstreet Art into their festival weekend.
"One of the coolest things last time was the people who we saw a month or two later, who had originally come during the Solid Sound Festival, and they said they didn't have a chance to get downtown," said Secor of 2011's event. "How to do we capture them to come back on a regular basis?"
The answer lies in presenting the city's best foot forward, one that also encourages local residents to enjoy its attractions.
"We love the 7,000 visitors we're going to see but it isn't about just that," said Alcombright. "This is a community event ... to make a very enjoyable weekend not just visitors but for residents."
Thursday night includes a 45-part reading of Frederick Douglass' 4th of July address of 1852 by local officials — and anyone who like to sign up that night to participate. Nomadic Massive hosts a hip hop block party on Main Street to which everyone's invited. Both events are also part of Lift Ev'ry Voice.
"We're really trying to elevate the performance elements to really make sense with the art and what's happening," Secor said.
On the weekend, disc jockeys will be providing music on the main drag beginning at 11 p.m., about the same time the lights flick on, said Secor, adding that it will be some "fun stuff" with LEDs. Also look for a roving art installation in a pickup truck.
On the weekend, businesses and restaurants will be able to stay open until 2 a.m., and are being encouraged to provide attractions for residents and for the late-night crowd exiting Mass MoCA. Local residents were out in force in the downtown during the last festival.
"It was amazing how many locals were downtown just enjoying the night," said the mayor. "It's a great opportunity."
The new North Adams Chamber of Commerce has been coordinating with businesses, and helping those who may be new to Solid Sound to understand what it means for business. Restaurant maps and coupons through the chamber and BerkshireMenus will be distributed, along with the DownstreetArt Art Map.
"From beginning to end, it's going to be a busier day," said chamber President Glenn Maloney. "There are so many more choices than a year ago."
Above, Jonathan Secor expects Downstreet Art to attract not only area residents but festivalgoers; right, Mayor Richard Alcombright said the city's public safety is prepared for the influx of visitors.
Inside MoCA, there'll also be booth space with information about the city, and 15 volunteers will mingle with the crowd in "talk to a townie" shirts to answer any questions visitors might have and offer directions.
On Sunday, the Main Street Market opens from 9 to 2 on Main Street between Holden and Eagle streets with more than 40 vendors, ranging from produce to jewelry to handmade soaps.
"We heard so frequently that that was one of the highlights" of the last festival, said Veronica Bosley, the city's director of tourism and events.
The Holiday Inn was reportedly sold out by Thursday; Solid Ground, the campsite at Noel Field Athletic Complex, is also sold out with 340 sites (up 90 from 2011) and the overflow is being redirected to "Hurricane Camping" at Hoosac Valley High School in Cheshire.
"We anticipate a hard and fast start [on Friday]," said Jodi Joseph, director of communications at Mass MoCA. The festival kicks off at 6:30 that night with the prime attraction being Wilco's "all request show" at Joe's Field on the museum campus. "... As a venue, we've really upped our game."
People are expected be trickling in during Friday afternoon, and Joseph expects the city to be "beyond bustling by about 4 or 5 o'clock."
Three-day passes are still available, as are Friday and Sunday single-day passes.
"It's just an exciting time for the community to kind of share North Adams with people who are coming from far away," said Bosley.
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.
Javier Higuera was one of the first to arrive at Noel Field for the Solid Sound Festival. Higuera drove from Arizona — stopping in major cities on the way — for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Solid Ground expects to be filled to the brim.
According to Police Sgt. David Sacco, a founder of the local ROPES program, 250 tent slots and all 10 recreational vehicle spots have been sold and the campers have been trickling in all morning. Each tent can have up to four people.
"Check in started at 11 a.m. and they've been filtering in consistently since then," Sacco said Friday afternoon. The ROPES organization, lead by local emergency responders, is coordinating the camping area at the municipal park.
The site at Noel Field is expected to be full by 8 p.m. and the ROPES volunteers of more than 200 will be helping concertgoers and keeping order. The team has been shuttling people to the site by using golf carts; the threat of stormy weather does not seem to be a deterrent.
"In case of severe weather we're suggesting they head to their cars," Sacco said. "The Eagles Club also called and said that if we needed to have a mass exodus, they'll open up for us."
Some 5,000 concertgoers are coming to the area from all over the country and beyond. Sacco said there are two reservations from Canada and one from South Africa. ROPES Program coordinator John LeClair said he has seen people from across the country including Ohio, Wisconsin and California.
Well-prepared camper Javier Higuera was all set up by 1 p.m. after driving from Arizona to attend the festival. Higuera left his home on Saturday and has been stopping at major cities along the way.
ROPES set up vendors that expect to be open until 1 a.m. or even later depending on business.
"I've never been east of Denver before," Higuera said. "This is a trip of a lifetime."
Higuera is meeting up with a friend on Sunday and will be driving back – hitting even more cities along the way. Higuera said he does not have to be back to work until July 5, so he is enjoying the vacation.
The campers are flowing in with cases of beer and wine, grills, Frisbees and Wiffle ball bats.
Police are not expecting any problems. LeClair said that last year police had "zero" incidents and he expects the same this year. Medical staff and security will be on site throughout the festival, he said.
"This isn't a mosh pit," LeClair said. "They are all very nice."
If you live in North Adams and love music, you're in luck!
The Solid Sound Festival is offering a one-day ticket special of $30 for Sunday, June 26, just for city residents. That's a 55 percent discount over the regular $65 one-day admission.
"In addition to loving the music, many of last year's festivalgoers commented on the town, how helpful and gracious the businesses, officials, and residents were. We are grateful to the city for being so welcoming to the band and visitors and wanted to extend this special offer as a way of saying thanks," said Tony Margherita, Wilco's manager.
Headlining Sunday's show will be Levon Helm and his Rambling Band playing in Joe's Field on the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art campus at 4:30 p.m. Other performances on Sunday include Darin Gray, Glenn Kotche solo set, JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound, Pronto, the Autumn Defense and Pillow Wand (Nels Cline/Thurston Moore duo). For kids, The Story Pirates will perform from noon to one, there will be a live falconry demonstration with Chris Davis of New England Falconry throughout the day, and a community yoga class offered under the upside-down trees (or inside in case of rain) from 10 to 11 a.m.
The discounted tickets must be purchased in advance in person at the Mass MoCA box office from 11 to 5. Residents must present proof of residency with a valid driver's license or utility bill with the 01247 ZIP code (hmm, does that mean Clarksburg and Florida residents get in, too?). Discount resident tickets will only be available until Thursday, June 23, at 5 p.m. They will NOT be available at the door.
Solid Sound takes place June 24 to June 26 at Mass MoCA and features two headlining concerts by Wilco, plus 18 bands including Helm, Moore, Syl Johnston, Dave Douglas, Neil Finn, Liam Finn, Jamie Lidell, Wilco side projects, special pop-up performances and more. Full three-day festival passes are still available for $124.50. Complete daily schedules and additional information are available through solidsoundfestival.com.