It wouldn’t be a Solid Sound festival without the promise of a rainstorm and the first day of the first festival in three years was no exception. Nearby thunder and lightning pushed crowds indoors after a surprise set from Neko Case. Case and her band—the always fantastic Nora O’Connor and A.C. Newman—played songs spanning her catalog, treating the audience to an unexpected, but a truly special introduction to the weekend. Danish punk rockers Iceage delayed their performance as the skies darkened, but eventually offered a shortened, but a lively set of heavy guitars that enticed festivalgoers back out onto the grounds. Pop duo Sylvan Esso kept the energy up as folks made their way to the main stage.
For Wilco to devote their entire opening night set to a double album released just that day is a tad indulgent, but the patient crowd made space for the band that brought them back to MASS MoCA. More than 20 unfamiliar, but lovely songs off the new record Cruel Country later, Tweedy and his band came out of the gate with the John Stirratt-led “It’s Just That Simple,” a welcome transition. What followed were songs that, according to Tweedy, felt spiritually connected to Cruel Country. Covers of the Meat Puppets’ “Climbing,” The Byrds’ “Wild Mountain Thyme,” Connie Smith’s “Once a Day” (with Case and O’Connor on vocals), and Roger Miller’s “Reincarnation” gave the night a needed jolt and tied the finale together in just the right way.
Photos by Andrew Benedict