Those attending this year’s fest will hear something that you can’t hear on any of Wilco’s CDs. For their Friday night performance, the bandmembers plan to unplug their instruments to perform a full set of Wilco tunes acoustically. While not totally unheard of – on their recent tour Wilco performed brief, intimate acoustic sets within the concert’s encores – but this will be the first time the band has unplugged for an extended performance.
“Right now we’re thinking about playing somewhat mirrored sets on Friday and Saturday nights – on Friday, the main set will be stripped down and acoustic, and the encores will be electric,” Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy said. “On Saturday we’ll flip it. Start big and loud and finish acoustically. We’ll see how it goes. It’ll be a bit of an experiment, but the Solid Sound audience is usually game for whatever we throw at them.
“It’s been a great experience for the six of us to perform our songs this way. It’s a bit of a re-discovery of the songs and a way for us to reconnect musically with one another. I found myself really looking forward to this part of the set every night on the most recent tour.”
Wilco won’t be hosting their Solid Sound Festival this year, and they won’t be playing a concert in North Adams, either. After four consecutive years, Wilco’s string of annual performances at MASS MoCA will come to an end in 2014.
The good news, however, is that Jeff Tweedy and his band have announced that Solid Sound will return next year, when the three-day festival takes over MASS MoCA from June 26-28, 2015.
As Wilco posted on their Facebook page, “We’ll spend 2014 roaming the planet in search of inspiration, musical and otherwise, to help us make the 2015 edition the best SSF yet.”
BREAKOUT STARS: Lucius. Led by the charming and glamorous, look-alike vocalists-keyboardists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the Brooklyn quintet offered up a set of very smart, accessible pop songs melded with enough edge and eccentricity to appeal to the alt crowd as well.
MOST RAMBUNCTIOUS: (Tie) Foxygen’s Sam France and Solid Sound Courtyard C stage crew. Overcome with a severe case of rock ‘n’ roll fever, the Foxygen frontman began climbing up the stage support/lighting trestle and was almost to the top before a member of the stage crew rushed onstage, pulled him down and threw him hard to the stage floor. The band simply kept playing through the incident, and afterward France declared, “It’s all part of the show. It’s theater.” But they followed with the song “No Destruction,” which features the lyric, “There’s no need to be an asshole…”
Sounds like the premise for some half-baked “Saturday Night Live” routine, doesn’t it?
But it was for real, in front of thousands of fans at MASS MoCA’s Joe’s Field. Wilco was onstage bopping their way through “Waterloo,” in all its ’70s-pop glory, Jeff Tweedy just smiling at the absurdity of it all.
“This is all your fault,” Tweedy proclaimed. “You asked for it – all requests…”
Back to host their third Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Wilco obviously wanted to do something different, something unique. So they decided to cap off the festival’s opening night with something they’d never done before – an all-request concert. Via social media, fans had been invited to submit requests for songs that they’d like to hear Wilco play. Some fans simply submitted a request for their fave Wilco song or some Wilco rarity. But most went straight for the concept of cover songs.
And Wilco got plenty of responses – 76 pages of requests, according to Tweedy. In the weeks prior to the fest the band whittled down the suggestions, learned a batch of the songs and on Friday night (June 21) they played more than two dozen of them in a what-the-hell-are-they-gonna-play-next performance that’s not likely to ever be duplicated. By anyone…
The Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams has been one of the undeniable musical highlights of the past two summers, but Wilco has announced that they will not present the fest this year.
Wilco will however be making a tour stop at MASS MoCA this summer, to play a benefit concert for the museum. The date of the North Adams show will be announced soon.
After going on hiatus this year, the three-day festival will return to MASS MoCA next year however, taking place June 21-23, 2013. The line-up of performers and ticket info for Solid Sound 2013 are expected to be announced in the coming months.
“The Festival is dearly loved by all of us – from the band to the staff who organize and execute it – so the decision to take 2012 off was not an easy one,” said festival co-organizer and Wilco manager Tony Margherita. “However, with the release of Wilco’s latest album ‘The Whole Love’ on their own newly launched label, followed by a lot of touring both home and away – well, we‘ve had a pretty crazy year. All that factored in to deciding that the best thing for us and for the festival would be to give ourselves enough time and energy to really focus on making Solid Sound 2013 the best one yet.
“We also understand the financial impact that taking the year off will have on MASS MoCA, our incredible host and not-for-profit partner in the festival,” continues Margherita. “It is our hope and intention that this summer’s benefit concert will lessen that impact and present Wilco with another opportunity to bring our fans to a place that is very dear to us.”
Keeping up with the Finns is not an easy business. Brothers Tim and Neil Finn made up Split Enz. Tim had a nice solo run. Neil gave us Crowded House, as well as a superb Finn Brothers collaboration. Neil’s latest band, Pajama Club with wife Sharon Finn, snuck up on me as the opening act for Wilco on Day One of Solid Sound.
I had seen the name Liam Finn on Neil Finn’s all-star “7 Worlds Collide” CD. So I turned up front and center for Liam’s trio performance on Day Two of Solid Sound wanting to like it, but reserving judgment until he proved himself worthy.
Wilco fans arriving for the second Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA on Friday found that not much had changed from last year’s inaugural event. The often-photographed rooftop Wilco sign from last year (or a version of it) now sat perched against a fence at the main concert site, Joe’s Field. And the onsite record store was moved this year to a more prominent spot between two stages, all the better to move copies of Wilco’s new self-released 7-inch vinyl single, “I Might.”
Otherwise, much was the same. The small food company vendors were there again, including last year’s crowd favorite Samosaman from Barre, Vermont. The dunking booth promised another opportunity to soak Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, although the weekend’s many downpours could take care of that. And once again, DJs spinning classic soul were there; this time, the Rabbit Factory’s DJ John Ciba spun 45s as the crowd steadily filtered into the art museum grounds throughout Friday afternoon and evening.
Glenn Kotche of Wilco at last year's Solid Sound Festival
“A lot of times I just have it on shuffle. That could be everything and anything from indigenous field recordings from the ’30s and ’40s in Africa to Stevie Wonder, Coltrane, Miles, Deerhoof, the Band, Dylan, Neil Young. A lot of classical music, John Luther Adams, Steve Reich. It’s kind of all over the place.”
Drummer Glenn Kotche and his bandmates in Wilco are back at MASS MoCA in North Adams this weekend, presenting the second annual Solid Sound Festival. Wilco is slated to perform at 9:15pm on Friday and 8:45pm on Saturday. Kotche is also scheduled for a solo performance at 12:15pm on Sunday.
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