Here's the Scoop: June 26, 2013

A Very Solid Experience
As luck would have it, I drew the assignment of covering Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival last weekend. When I say “luck,” I refer to the “good” kind.

I say this because I just happen to be the only staff member at the News who is a fan of this band. For that matter, I’m the only one who has ever heard Wilco or heard of the band. That’s OK, I prefer it that way.

Readers who have made it far are firmly planted in one of two arenas: 1. You are asking, “Honey, do you know the band Wilco?” or, 2. You spent the weekend having your head rocked off at Solid Sound. And, when your head was refastened, it probably wasn’t exactly like it started. It’s better.
Fans of Wilco aren’t like, say, the devotees of the Dave Matthews Band or Phish. They don’t turn out in such huge numbers for shows. But Wilco fans are nevertheless very dedicated. In fact, the fandom level that my wife and I are at pales in comparison to the hardcore folks. By a lot.

Unusual - planning ahead
We had lodging reservations for Solid Sound for a very long time — probably nearly two years, since last year’s festival was cancelled due to a variety of reasons. As noted, I think to think we’re dedicated to the band’s music (in a sane sort of way), but not compared to the other guests at the inn. Traveling to Massachusetts from Virginia, Dallas, Portland (OR), Connecticut and New Jersey, these folks were very attuned to the band.

In fact, one couple brought in a friend one morning so she could discuss the band in-depth with the group. It was fun. Fortunately, this special guest didn’t show us any band tattoos in private places or anything like that. And, no one asked.

Without going into great detail (I could, you know) about the festival, I’ll just say that the event involves Wilco and a bunch of handpicked bands (most of them low on radio play popularity) playing at a very cool former factory complex in North Adams, MA. There’s also a lot of art and interesting displays, many involving the band members.

Super mellow
Best of all, the scene is very laid back. People moving through the crowd use words like “please” and “thank you.” Craziness is at a minimum. Great music is at a maximum.

I’ve never attended a huge music festival like Bonnaroo. From what I’ve read, that’s a good thing. I’m just not a fan of claustrophobia-inducing crowds — I’m funny about such things. And terribly popular bands aren’t on my radar either. On the other hand, Solid Sound limits the crowd to about 8,000 attendees (fanatics). A lot of people, for sure, but a very comfortable number at the sprawling Mass MOCA location.

This was our second Solid Sound out of three that have been held. I won’t go into the details of why we missed the first one, but let’s just say, “It was my fault.” See my wife for details.
It’s not certain if Wilco will hold the festival next year, because it’s a huge commitment and the band plays a large part overseeing how things run. Just in case, we have already made tentative room reservations for next year. Whenever the next one occurs, it’s a Solid bet we’ll be there for the coolest festival around.
— Brian Sweeney