Solid Sound Festival Wrap-Up

I know that it has been almost a month since Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival, but having been so caught up with the new site and scrambling to catch up with what we missed on our mini-hiatus I almost overlooked the fact that we witnessed an amazing festival and the blogosphere deserves to hear about.

Neil, Jeff and I were able to see all 3 days of the festival and here is how it went down–

Day 1:

There were only a couple bands playing on the first night, but man were they good. When we got into the festival grounds, aka MASS MOCA, the first band that we saw was Pajama Club fronted by the legendary Neil Finn formerly of Crowded House and Split Enz. With his wife Sharon on bass and backing vocals, Finn and the rest of the Pajama Club delivered a great performance to get the main stage crowd in Joe’s Field ready for Wilco.

When Wilco took the stage it was pouring and “pouring” may actually be an understatement. I think it was the hardest I have ever seen it rain for such an extended period of time. Of course after about two songs I was soaked all the way through my jacket, shirt and undershirt, but if you thought that this was going to stop us from rocking out well then you probably haven’t read this blog too much.

Wilco delivered a killer set through the driving rain including classics like “Misunderstood,” “Via Chicago,” and “Impossible Germany.” They opened their set with the lead single, “I Might,” off of their upcoming album The Whole Love (which is set to come out in late September) and busted out the title track as well as “Born Alone” from the new record during their set.

The night ended with an energetic performance of “I Got You (At the End of the Century)” after which they invited Neil Finn on stage to lead them in a rendition of his classic Split Enz track “I Got You.”

With Day 1 in the books we returned to our hotel drenched in rain, but still more than content with the events that had transpired.

Day 2:

The first set that we caught on Day 2 was arguably the best set of the weekend (behind Wilco’s two performances of course). Liam Finn was an absolute monster on the stage in Courtyard D, and it seemed as if he was filming a new commercial for Energizer batteries, because he was putting that silly bunny to shame with the electricity that he brought in his set. He invited Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche out to take up the sticks on a second drum set during the I’ll Be Lightning jam “Second Chance.” This was one of the few Finn songs that I knew coming into the weekend and with Kotche on drums it just took it to a whole new level. You have already seen the incredible vigor that Finn brought to the stage on “Lead Balloon” and now imagine that carrying on throughout the whole set…yeah it was that awesome.

Next up was Jamie Lidell whose soulful swagger brought a nice change of pace to the festival environment. Wilco multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone joined Lidell on stage as he crooned through a magical set that ended with a very well-crafted rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

After watching Jeff Tweedy dunk his son Spencer multiple times at the dunk tank, we caught a little of Thurston Moore’s set, stood out in the rain for Syl Johnson (who may have actually lost his mind at this point, but the man can still groove) and then prepared for another night of Wilco magic.

They kicked off night number two with the witty and appropriate cover of Nick Lowe’s “I Love My Label,” the B side to their “I Might” 7-inch. From there we were graced with a few more new tunes, but for the most part it was hit after hit. John Stirratt sang on one of the few non-Tweedy written Wilco tunes, “It’s Just That Simple” while Tweedy showed off his falsetto chops on “Hate it Here.”

The highlights of the evening for me included the epic build-up of “At Least That’s What You Said,” Liam Finn joining the band for “You Never Know,” and Sara Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion contributing vocals for “California Stars” a song penned by Guthrie’s grandfather Woody. The two best moments by far though were Pat Sansone and Nels Cline’s dueling solos on “Hoodoo Voodoo” (see below) as well as Tweedy taking a backseat on “Jesus etc.” and letting the crowd sing the majority of the tune.

After two nights of Wilco you can’t ask for much more…but then there was Sunday.

Day 3:

Sunday was a bit slower than the first two days at MASS MOCA, and it could have been due to a number of things with the most likely culprit being people dragged down by loss of hearing resulting from Nels Cline’s raucous guitar shredding.

Day 3 also saw each member of Wilco (aside from Tweedy) performing with their solo/side projects. Glenn Kotche took his percussion game to a whole new level in the Hunter Center, while Mikael Jorgensen and Pronto battled through some technical difficulties to deliver a synthalicious set. Sansone and Stirratt took the stage with their smooth 70s sounding Autumn Defense project and Nels Cline played some really loud and weird noises with Thurston Moore.

Sunday also saw the funk flavor of JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound who had many a life lesson to share with the crowd between songs until JC finally proclaimed, “I’m done preachin’, now I’m gonna testify.” Amen to that. With a voice reminiscent of the Motown singers of old, Brooks rambled through a set that was the perfect substitute for missing a Sunday sermon and Tweedy was even there to help him out (see below again)

Finally the weekend closed with Wilco joining Levon Helm and his band on stage to perform “The Weight” and “I Shall Be Released.” On the latter Tweedy once again showed off his falsetto, while it was clear to see that each member of Wilco was excited to be on stage with such a legend and proud of the weekend that they had put together.

Check out some videos below from this year’s festival and make sure to keep checking back for details about Solid Sound 2012 as we will be eagerly awaiting any announcements.

Posted on by Eric in Concert Review

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