Photos by Emilie Holland.
On the morning of the final day of Solid Sound, festival-goers awoke to blustery winds and cold rain, but packed their cars and soldiered on to Mass MoCA for one last dose of art and music. And luckily, the Sunday schedule allowed for a lull in the day that was ideal for perusing the museum (free of charge), especially when the day’s only real downpour came.
William Tyler kicked things off with a mind-bending guitar set, proving his chops to those who weren’t already in the know about his unique talent. Tyler is truly a one-man band in every sense, creating layered, multidimensional arrangements right on stage. Not to mention, he’s personable and sweet, both qualities that go a long way at a smaller festival like Solid Sound where the fans are noticeably appreciative. Tyler was a highlight of the day, and played his favorite Sunday tune “Tears and Saints” to close out his set.
If you wandered through the museum in the hours that followed, you could have caught The Autumn Defense featuring the Windy Hills, Nels Cline and Norton Wisdom’s Stained Radiance, Glenn Kotche and Jeffrey Zeigler leading a room of drummers, Jeff Davis plucking away on his banjo to a room full of kiddies, and the incredible, colorful Jim Shaw exhibit Entertaining Doubts, which included vivid old stage sets painted over with crude pop culture figures, handmade wigs and more oddities.
One of the sweetest surprises of the day came in the form of the Charles Lloyd Quartet, a jazz band led by the 77-year old dynamite saxophonist Lloyd. Musicians Gerald Clayton, Joe Sanders and Kendrick Scott rounded out the band, and Bill Frisell joined in, too, giving the curious crowd a real treat. Lloyd and his band played smooth, playful and deep arrangements that were warm and inviting, and those who just wandered over likely felt like they’d been let in on a valuable secret.
Following the Felice Brothers’ energetic, twang-filled set, which gathered a larger than expected audience thanks to the move from the small courtyard to Joe’s Field, Tweedy took the stage for the last time, accompanied by son Spencer on drums, keyboardist and guitarist Liam Cunningham, bassist Darin Gray, guitarist Jim Elkington, and Sima Cunningham on backing vocals. The band played a gorgeous set of deeply personal songs, many from the 2014 Tweedy debut record Sukirae, including the heart wrenching “Nobody Dies Anymore”, “Hazel”, “Fake Fur Coat” and “New Moon”. Jeff Tweedy followed with a solo acoustic set, the highlight of which found him praising his wife and dedicating a repeat version of “I’m the Man Who Loves You”.
For the grand finale of Solid Sound, in classic Tweedy form, every musician in attendance from the weekend lineups was invited out onto the stage for individual collaborations with Tweedy’s band (including Cibo Matto doing a rendition of Madonna’s “Get into the Groove”), and then finally for one big number, “California Stars”. And with a stage band that included Luluc, William Tyler, Ryley Walker, Bill Frisell, Cibo Matto, the rest of Wilco, and the Felice Brothers, and the entire crowd singing along, another Solid Sound was in the books.