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On the landing in the summer: All things Wilco to be explored at Massachusetts fest

April 7, 2010 |  3:08 pm


When the lineup for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival was announced earlier this year, there was one festival-ready act that seemed missing from the bill: Chicago's rootsy art-rockers Wilco. But no matter -- turns out Wilco was readying its own festival.

Wilco today unveiled the Solid Sound Festival, set for Aug. 13-15 at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in the small town of North Adams. Think of it as sort of an All Tomorrow's Parties that's all things Wilco, and Pop & Hiss (this writer, at least) will be among the nerd boys in attendance. 

In addition to a headlining Wilco concert, the weekend will feature performances from the various side projects of its individual band members, including those from Los Angeles' own guitar wizard Nels Cline. Also promised, though a lineup has not yet been announced, will be comedy performances, but one can probably expect Wilco friend Fred Armisen to pay a visit. 

Wilco isn't the first band to stage its own multi-day event, as SoCal residents had the opportunity to take part in Phish's Halloween weekend blowout on the Coachella grounds, and Coachella itself attempts to bridge the gap between the music and fine art worlds. However, despite what desert partyers may believe, sculptures that breathe fire do not count.   

Though plenty of Wilco fans likely won't have the funds or the time to spring for a three-day event outside a major city in Massachusetts, Wilco continues to innovate in ways beyond its music. At a time when "added value" in the music business typically means a video download to clog up space on our iPods, or an overpriced "meet-and-greet" tacked onto the cost of a concert ticket, Wilco has staged a multi-day residency to explore its catalog in its hometown, and now has turned to its lead guitarist in Cline to create a full-on "guitar-pedal exhibit" at an art gallery. Cline will then be on hand to demonstrate it to fans. Film screenings, DJs and video installations are also tipped to occur over MASS MoCA's 150,00 square feet of galleries. 

Tickets for Wilco's Solid Sound Festival go on sale Friday, and are priced at $86.50, including all service fees. It's worth noting that such a price is cheaper than what two tickets to the band's recent dates at the Wiltern cost. However, you're on your own for airfare and lodging -- MASS MoCA is about 130 miles from Boston, and the museum's website reports that Amtrak runs only one train daily near the grounds. 

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Jake Stevens / Los Angeles Times