Wilco Are Back, and Jeff Tweedy Couldn’t Be More ExcitedJune 19, 2019 5:10pm

On June 28th, Wilco will return to the rolling hills of North Adams, Massachusetts, to kick off the sixth installment of their Solid Sound Festival. For Wilco and their fans, it will be more than just a weekend of great music: This year, Solid Sound doubles as a welcome-back party celebrating the official end of Wilco’s year-plus hiatus.

“We’re as excited as we’ve ever been,” says frontman Jeff Tweedy, calling from the Loft, the band’s Chicago recording studio. “Maybe a little bit more, because it’s coinciding with the end of a pretty long stretch where we haven’t seen each other a whole lot. I’m expecting it to have the feel almost of a reunion, but for a band that never broke up.”

Wilco took 2018 off in part so that drummer Glenn Kotche could relocate to Helsinki with his wife, Miiri, who won a Fulbright scholarship to study medical device design. In the meantime, Tweedy wrote an excellent, revealing memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back); recorded two folk-rock albums, Warm and Warmer; and toured the world as a solo act. “I mean, I have a good time playing by myself, just like everybody else in the band does,” he says. “But I’ve definitely missed the sound of those six people onstage. It’s like getting to hang out with my closest friends again.”

As always at Solid Sound, the starring attraction will be two headlining sets from Wilco. Tweedy mentions “something kind of fun for the first night that I’m not ready to talk about yet,” then drops an even more tantalizing hint: “The second show, I think, maybe we’ll try and showcase a new song or two.”

Any new songs heard at Solid Sound, of course, will raise hopes for a fresh Wilco album, which would be the band’s first since 2016’s laid-back Schmilco. “We’ve been getting together to do some studio recording,” Tweedy says coyly. “You’ll be hearing about that pretty soon.”

He adds that the band had some fruitful sessions at the Loft this past winter: “At this point it’s like the way you feel when you get to be around family you haven’t seen in a long time. It almost takes no time to feel that same connection.”

The lineup for this year’s Solid Sound features a typically tasty assortment of folk, rock, jazz, rap and noise acts, including Courtney Barnett, the Feelies (one of Tweedy’s favorite bands when he was growing up outside St. Louis), Tortoise, Cate Le Bon, Clipping., Jonathan Richman and more, plus comedians like John Hodgman and Aparna Nancherla. The weekend will also feature performances from a slew of Wilco side projects such as bassist John Stirratt and guitarist Pat Sansone’s the Autumn Defense; multi-instrumentalist Mikael Jorgensen’s Quindar; and Cup, a duo formed by Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and his wife, Cibo Matto’s Yuka C. Honda. (Sadly, a planned “modern dance performance” by Jon Hamm, Kotche, and choreographer Danielle Agami had to be cancelled due to a conflict in Hamm’s schedule.) Taken together, Tweedy says the lineup offers “an opportunity to present a more full-frequency depiction of the band, more so than any individual record or any individual show.”

Nine years after the first Solid Sound, Wilco’s model of a smaller music festival tailored to the band’s and its fans’ eclectic interests has proved increasingly popular. “I’m glad to see people are doing these types of festivals,” Tweedy says. “I think they’re way more musical, I think they’re way more humane, and they’re way less corporate.”

Looking ahead, Tweedy sounds excited about the future of Wilco. “I think [the hiatus] revitalized everyone’s energy for the band, and our interest in pushing forward and not just resting on some past output. Everybody in the band is pretty ambitious. It’s good to let go of something that’s a huge, identifying part of your life, and realize that you still have deep affection for it and a deep interest in having it be a living, breathing entity capable of surprising you.”

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