Last weekend—with a backpack full of coffee-stained film and a Polaroid camera given to me by friends at the Impossible Project––my friend Oliver and I took a bus to North Adams, Massachusetts to attend the second annual Solid Sound Festivall at the Mass MoCA. Curated by the members of the venerable musical outfit Wilco, the Solid Sound Festival is an arts and music festival featuring the likes of Thurston Moore, Levon Helm, Here We Go Magic and more. Over the course of weekend, the Impossible Project, an organization responsible for keeping instant film alive and kicking, was constructing an exhibition of Polaroids that myself, Pat Sansone of Wilco and a few other photographers were invited to be a part of. The final exhibit was completed by Sunday, the third and final day of the festival, and remained at MoCA for a week.
The Mass MoCA is housed inside an old abandoned factory—once home to the Sprague Electric Company factory––in the quaint town of North Adams. Since the MoCA opened, the town has flourished with artists and small galleries, a much welcome resurgence following the depression that resulted from the factory closing some years ago. Now, with Wilco curating this eclectic, accessible annual festival, things are looking up even more for a town that doesn’t usually get that much action. It was amazing to see normal Wilco concert goers, with their fold-up chairs and picnic blankets, watching performances by Pillow Wand (Nels Cline and Thurston Moore’s manic electric guitar duo) and Glen Kotche’s ecstatic drum solo performances, while at the same time kids were dancing to more mellow music by The Autumn Defense or Here We Go Magic, eating ice cream during performances by the Story Pirates, and making princess crowns in the crafts installation hall. Oh, and then there was the rain and the mud…but what glorious fun. As the festival came to a close and the attendees were about to file out, Levon Helms came onto the main stage with a number of other artists and performed Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released—a fitting soundtrack for the end of a great weekend in the Berkshires.