Every year the band Wilco hosts and headlines Solid Sound, a three day music festival held in and around the ground of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (known also as MASS MoCA). The Museum is located a decent drive west of Boston in the town of North Adams and is an interesting site made up of 19th Century factory buildings. Having never seen Wilco live and relishing the opportunity to leave Boston and explore some more of Massachusetts, I found a partner in crime and we headed west for the weekend. Much of the accommodation in the area was booked out, so I settled on booking a place ina charming little town called Bennington, which is actually in the state of Vermont, just over the border. Apart from some nice scenery, followed by a down-pour and some extremely foggy conditions towards the end, the drive was pleasant and unremarkable.
Conditions were perfect on the Saturday morning of the festival and upon arriving I could tell this was going to be a fairly different experience to the craziness of other festivals I’d been to that year. Families were in abundance, kids and prams were everywhere and this was definitely an older crowd compared to something like the dance-crazy Good Vibrations I went to in Sydney this year. I didn’t recognise any other acts on the line-up, apart from Liam Finn, who I eventually worked out is the son of Neil Finn from Split Enz.
It was a pretty relaxed atmosphere and just as much time was spent listening to music as exploring the art gallery itself. There was a decent selection of food and drink and a few beers were enjoyed while strolling between the different stages. Being a museum of contemporary art, there was a fair amount of variety in the works being displayed, with some extremely large installations on display. On impressive example filled an entire room in the form of huge white spikes protruding out of multi-coloured rocks dirt looking like something out of an alien invasion movie. As well, what looked to be an old camper van with space-shuttle like panels attached and a parachute was suspended high on a metal walkway several stories up. Upon climbing up and entering the vehicle, the inside looking like a retro-fitted space-ship where someone had lived for a number of years, complete with a large book collection and interesting assortment of personal effects. There were also the abstract art, coloured lines and patterns spread across a wall, some photography and a T.V. displaying a chess game with audio commentary, a display which seemed to confuse most observers.
For the most part, I think I enjoyed exploring the art museum more than most of the acts that played! Wilco put on a good show, despite a slight delay due to a torrential down-pour in the late afternoon and played a long set late into the night covering the breadth of their career, much of which I was unfamiliar with. Overall though, it was a great weekend and an enjoyable 6th music festival for the year!