A Perfect Festival

Wilco Solid Sound by Bill Reichblum

Wilco created a perfect festival.

The band’s devoted fans have known for years that Wilco performs music that is so genuine, so honest, it is irresistible. Imagine rock stars who don’t know they are stars. They dress like you, write what you’re thinking, play together with the same enthusiasm as a high school group having fun in someone’s garage, and are as accessible as your best friends. And, they make great art. Now, they’ve made a great festival.

This past weekend, Wilco teamed up with the Berkshire’s MASS MoCA to curate the Solid Sound Festival, a festival of music, visual art, theatre, comedy, film, and fun.

MASS MoCA is one of the most visited museums of new art in the United States. Based in North Adams, Massachusetts, MASS MoCA is a sprawling complex of industrial buildings that has presented some of the most boundary-stretching visual and performance art of the last ten years. Current exhibits include “Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With” and Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective , a once-in-a-lifetime presentation of LeWitt’s work.

Before the Solid Sound Festival began, the museum’s director, Joe Thompson, said: “MASS MoCA is about giving artists the opportunity to make new work.” Although they have hosted a number of performing art residencies and productions, “This is a stretch, so I hope you have fun watching us be stretched!”

Wilco curated the festival, pulling together all the acts across the artistic disciplines, and featuring some of their own forays into new territories. In a KadmusArts podcast, Wilco’s Glenn Kotche spoke about making “something a little different.” On the afternoon before the festival kick-off, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy said that the band had been looking for a place a bit off the beaten path. Sitting in one of the open-space galleries of MASS MoCA he said, “We are grateful that a place like this would have people like us.”

This is part of a trend. Other artists who have begun to curate festivals include Richard Thompson at Meltdown, David Byrne for one of the stages at Bonnaroo, and David Bowie with High Line, to name a few.

After all, aren’t you curious about what kind of music your favorite musician likes? What kind of art inspires them? What creative works make their day better? It’s like your best friend who tells you, “you’ve got to hear this!”

The spirit of a Wilco-infused MASS MoCA was also defined by the audience. The crowd included small children, teenagers, the middle aged, and the old; gen x and gen y, hippies of yesteryear and today, urbanites, and country dwellers; a crowd made for a perfect party.

Every event at the festival had the same vibe as Wilco’s music: honest, genuine, fun, deep, intimate, generous, and in the end, made you glad to be connected to others.

In other words, the very elements of a perfect festival.

- Bill Reichblum

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4 Responses to “A Perfect Festival”

  1. Tweets that mention KadmusArts – where culture speaks » Blog Archive » A Perfect Festival -- Topsy.com
    August 16th, 2010 07:19
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