MASS MoCA, in general, is a playground.
It was built with the intent to become a “center that would both present and catalyze the creation of works that chart new creative territory“.
Since its inception in 1999, MASS MoCA has embodied just that; a hub of curiosity and wonder, set in a delightful, welcoming space.
This weekend’s SOLID SOUND FESTIVAL, held on MASS MoCA’s grounds, was an ideal setting for people to learn, discover and enjoy great weather, food and of course, great music.
From a spectator’s standpoint, this festival couldn’t have been set up any better. Short walks between stage areas, bounties of shade from the sun, $1 bottles of water, Intelligentsia coffee / espresso and tons of eye candy in-between. Most notably, the MASS MoCA galleries themselves acted as a palate cleanser if the music or outdoor activities ever became overwhelming.
One couldn’t discern whether it was the hunger of MASS MoCA fans to put on such an event or whether it was headlining/curating band Wilco’s fans who made this event a pleasure to be at. (OK, not everyone was a prince/princess). But seriously, despite the presence of copious amounts of beer, there was nary a bad / muscle-y / jerky / imposing vibe in sight.
MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS : (this human only caught Day 1 and most of Day 2; hardly comprehensive)
* Vetiver :: built a perfect set that moseyed slow at the top and ramped up feverishly through the end. It was ideal for folks such as myself who were having a difficult time easing into the day.
* Vetiver’s guitar player (who does not resemble Kevin Barker, who plays on some of the Vetiver albums) :: nimble, conscious, tasteful.
* The Books :: although I could complain that their set should have most definitely been outdoors and unencumbered by the trappings of the Hunter Theater, I am going to simply revel in the fact that we were able to hear songs such as “Be Good to Them Always“, “Take Time” and “That Right Ain’t Shit” were a real treat, if even from the hallway.
* Mountain Man :: spun circles around the late afternoon crowd gathered to hear the three lovely ladies sing. Despite sadness over Molly Sarle’s broken guitar, Andy from Vetiver kindly shared his Martin acoustic to play the spare parts that underpinned a few of the songs. Otherwise, it was otherworldly vocals only. A wonder, considering their rigorous UK / EU tour schedule and most recently, a week-long jaunt with Deer Tick which would leave anyone hoarse.
Here’s a video of their set closer, an un-named folk traditional: