No one could have imagined on that stormy final day of Solid Sound Festival in 2019 that it would be three years until the next one. But here we are, finally making the much-anticipated return to MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, the museum that hosts Jeff Tweedy and Wilco every other year for three days of art, comedy and music. And it wouldn’t be a typical Solid Sound without Tweedy having a trick up his sleeve. In this case, Wilco has timed the release of their new double album Cruel Country on day one of the fest. For his part, Tweedy has also released two solo albums, a live record, and a memoir since the last time we saw him in the Berkshires. Needless to say, there will be plenty to catch up on with the band over Memorial Day Weekend.
Though Wilco fans are obviously drawn to the festival to celebrate the band they love, Solid Sound has always been about discovery and this year is no exception. Tweedy has assembled a spectacular, intriguing and sonically diverse lineup for this grand return. Expect spontaneous collaborations and the usual majestic mountain views as you groove to the sounds of Sylvan Esso, Japanese Breakfast, Bonnie “Prince” Billie, Hand Habits, and Angel Bat Dawid, to name a few. Here are the top five acts we can’t wait to see:
- Cut Worms
Max Clarke may have just two records under his belt, his 2018 debut Hollow Ground and 2020’s double album Nobody Lives Here Anymore, but both are fantastic. Clarke has established himself as a fully formed artist with an uncanny ability to embody a retro sound that also somehow feels timeless. With songs about the past that feel rooted in present day anxieties, Clarke’s brand of earnest mid-century Americana is sure to garner a slew of new fans when he plays tunes like “Castle in the Clouds” and “Think I Might Be in Love.”
- Terry Allen
Texi-Cali icon Terry Allen recently received a deluxe reissue treatment of his 1980s releases Smokin’ the Dummy and Bloodlines, out on Paradise of Bachelors. What a treat it will be to see him revisit his singular psych-stoner-twang rock with the Panhandle Mystery Band. Allen’s poetic blend of humor and darkness align just right on favorites like “There Oughta Be a Law Against Sunny Southern California” and “Cocaine Cowboy,” which are sure to get festival-goers on their feet.
Danish punk outfit Iceage have been around awhile, but their 2021 album Seek Shelter was a standout in a year packed with postponed releases. Fuzzed out ennui and thrashing guitars on songs like the anthemic “Shelter Song” and “Love Kills Slowly” will make for a smashing introduction to the festival on Friday evening, starting the weekend off hard and fast.
The satiny grooves of Chicago artist NNAMDÏ are adventurous and multidimensional enough to turn heads. The instrumentalist’s 2020 release Brat is a meditation in smooth electronic soul that turns indie rock on its head with bedroom slinkiness (“Wasted”) and acoustic, Elliott Smith-esque zaniness (“Flowers to My Demons”). NNAMDÏ is the type of artist to bring an element of surprise to his live set, which makes his appearance all the more alluring.
- Liam Kazar
Another Chicagoan, Liam Kazar’s woozy 80s-inflected pop rock will be a welcome addition to the lineup following his excellent 2021 debut Due North. Cutting his teeth playing alongside artists like Steve Gunn and Tweedy himself, Kazar makes the kind of songs that practically force you to shake your hips. His instrumental arrangements are blissfully quirky, synthy, groovy jams tailormade to lift your mood and get you moving.
Wilco’s Solid Sound festival takes place May 27th – 29th at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. Three-day and single-day tickets, which include full access to MASS MoCA, are available for purchase here.