Solid Sound Opens Friday at Mass MoCA
|The main stage at Joe's Field is getting the final touches for the performances beginning Friday night at Solid Sound.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art was a hive of energy on Wednesday as staff and volunteers made ready for more than 7,000 concertgoers expected to descend on the city this weekend.
The three-day Solid Sound Festival — Wilco Weekend to the locals — opens Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Mass MoCA with music, comedy, art installations, vendors and more.
Saturday is sold out but three-day passes are still available, as are one-day tickets for Friday and Sunday.
Curated by the genre-bending alternative band Wilco, the festival has nearly doubled in size from its initial launch in 2010. The popularity of the biennial event in bringing concertgoers from across the country and the world has led to the museum's investment in outdoor performances, including the annual FreshGrass bluegrass festival that brings in more than 5,000.
The very personal artistic endeavor was spearheaded by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, Mikael Jorgensen and Glenn Kotche.
"There are a lot of really, really big festivals in the world now. But the big festivals to me are ... I don't think they're very musical. I mean the only real desire was to make a festival we wouldn't be miserable at," says Tweedy in the just released documentary about Solid Sound, "Every Other Summer."
Wilco will play two sets, including an acoustic version on Friday night.
While Wilco may be the main driver, the festival is offering an eclectic mix of activities, from playing catch with the North Adams SteepleCats to an immersive 12-screen video installation in the Courtyard D by exhibiting artist Clifford Ross. The main entrance features SuttonBeresCuller's telescoping "Big Top Grand Stand" and Jim Shaw's "Church Inflatable." The iconic Wilco letters are this year resting by the West Main Street Gate, bracketed by Franz West's "Les Pommes d'Adam," on loan from the Hall Art Foundation.
An army of volunteers were recruited months ago to staff the outdoor gathering, that covers two interior courtyards and the main stage at Joe's Field.
"We also call back everyone who worked at Mass MoCA in the last three to five years to help," said Jodi Joseph, director of communications.
More vendors will also be on hand to feed hungry festivalgoers, including local vendors such as Wild Oats, Desperados, The Hub Spice Root and the North Adams Rotary, which last festival sold more than 5,000 hot dogs.
Further out, three "pop-up" campgrounds have sprung up to service concertgoers. Solid Ground at Noel Field Athletic Complex was an experiment in 2010. It worked so well that the Hoosac Valley High School Cheshire was added in 2013 and the Aggie Campground at Bowe Field in Adams this year.
Both Solid Ground and Hoosac Valley, which benefit the Northern Berkshire ROPES Program and Hoosac athletic program, respectively, are filled up but there's still room at Bowe Field, said Keifer Gammell, box office manager.
Hoosac added a "concierge camping" this year to set up for campers, said Gammell. "You just put down your sleeping bag down and drop your backpack and you're ready to go."
Getting all those people in the downtowns is also the minds of local businesses. The festival is expected to have an economic impact of $2 million - from food and lodging to gas and merchandise.
The North Adams Chamber of Commerce will be handing out paper fans with information on local stores and restaurants to help keep concertgoers cool during the muggy weekend (showers are expected but will hopefully hold off).
Center Street will be closed on Saturday from 9 to 1 for the weekly Farmers' Market and an artisan/craft fair. More than 30 vendors will be on hand. V&V Steeple City Spirits is holding a "Hops & Sound" tasting festival over Friday and Saturday, with a silent auction on Saturday to benefit the North Adams After-School Program.
Also on Saturday, local historian Paul Marino will offer a free walking tour of downtown starting at 2:30 p.m.; for residents and concertgoers with youngsters, the North Adams Cinema is offering a free screening of "The Goonies" at 11 a.m.
Joseph said visitors can expect a unique experience of art and music on the campus of Mass MoCA.
"Jeff Tweedy said this will be the best Solid Sound ever," she said.