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One-day Here & There festival curated by Courtney Barnett coming to Mass MoCA

Lucy Dacus, Men I Trust, Faye Webster, Bartees Strange, The Beths, and Hana Vu join Barnett in North Adams

2015 BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival

Courtney Barnett, seen here performing during the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival at Napa Valley Expo in 2015, brings her Here & There Festival to Mass MoCA for a one-day only show on Aug. 13. 

NORTH ADAMS — Most music festivals — of this day and age, at least —happen over multiple days, in a city park, a state fairground, or — in the case of the upcoming Burning Man — even high and hostile desert. But, what if, instead of traveling to a far-off city for a bender like Coachella or Lollapalooza, you could show up in your hometown and have a traveling band of merry music-makers meet you where you are?

That's the idea behind Here And There festival, a new "touring festival" curated by Australian-rocker Courtney Barnett that will roll into the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art on Saturday, Aug. 13. Over the next four weeks, a rotating lineup of 24 seasoned performers and festival newcomers will shred with Barnett in 14 cities across the country. Mass MoCA is Here And There's fifth stop, and with seven musical acts slated to play at Joe's Field — including Faye Webster, whose solo concert at Mass MoCA was unexpectedly canceled this February — the museum holds the distinction of hosting the festival's largest lineup in its nearly month-long journey around the United States.

Barnett, a Melbourne-based singer and guitarist who has twice bestowed her sonic gifts on Mass MoCA's stages, had dreamt of curating her own festival since she was a child. But though Barnett had crafted a handful of lineups over the years (a Belgian music festival called Sonic City and a concert associated with Newport Folk in Los Angeles), spearheading a project of Here And There's scope seemed out of reach.

"It always seemed like a pipe dream, and something that wouldn't possibly happen," said Barnett in an interview with The Eagle. Barnett has been on a roll of creative projects lately, though— this year alone, she toured Australia in support of her 2021 album "Things Take Time, Take Time," starred in the music documentary "Anonymous Club," and celebrated the 10th anniversary of her label Milk! Records. So why shouldn't she aim big?

"I started talking about it with my manager, and we started piecing it together," Barnett said.

Organizing a rotating lineup across 14 venues requires a lot of logistics and with the help of a dedicated production team, Barnett began to arrange the unique lineups that will play at each stop of the tour.

"We reached out to people, saw when they were available and how many shows they could and wanted to do, and worked around people's own schedules so it wasn't too much of a chunk out of their time," said Barnett. "It's cool that people can weave in and out depending on their schedule."

Some artists — like the singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus — feature on the bill in multiple cities. Most of Here And There's artists, however, just pop onstage for one or two appearances in cities that suit their style. Fred Armisen, the comedian behind Portlandia, will join Barnett in Portland, Ore. Wet Leg, the talky British duo who made Barack Obama's annual summer playlist this year, will play with Barnett in Dallas. And Mass MoCA has special guests of its own — North Adams will be the only city in America where Here And There audiences can catch a performance by Montreal indie band Men I Trust or by the genre-bending British artist Bartees Strange.


Summer is festival season for Mass MoCA, and with the return of Wilco's postponed Solid Sound Festival in May, this particular season has been busier than most. But when Addison MacDonald, general manager for the Performing Arts at Mass MoCA, caught wind that Barnett was considering the museum for Here And There, he wanted his team to take the project on.

"It seemed like a no-brainer for us," MacDonald said in an interview by phone. "MoCA has always had this philosophy of allowing artists the space and time to figure out what they're doing, and try stuff that they couldn't do elsewhere. This festival speaks to what MoCA does best, which is to take younger artists that we're so excited about, and more established artists we've had the chance to work with a few times, and give them a blank palette to use the museum and our spaces to create something we hope will really connect with the audience."

The museum will also be open during the festival for ticket-holders to view current Mass MoCA exhibitions in between sets.

"We want to be able to utilize the museum so that someone coming to see a festival or a concert can see the museum grounds and have a multi-sensory experience," said MacDonald.

MacDonald believes Here And There has long term potential, but Barnett is playing things by ear.

"It's a nice start to carve out a space for something different," Barnett said. "I'd love to make it a regular thing even if it's every second year. There's so much space to grow and change — like with anything, as you do more of something you learn how to do it better."


What: Courtney Barnett's Here & There, a boutique touring festival with a rotating lineup.

Where: Joe's Field, Mass MoCA, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams

When: 1:30 - 11 p.m., Aug. 13. Gates open to food trucks and concert field at 1 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission: $60.50, advance; $75, day of. Ticket includes museum admission. Event is rain or shine.,

Tickets and more information: 413-662-2111, massmoca.org

Festival lineup, in order of appearance: 

  • Hana Vu
  • Bartees Strange
  • The Beths
  • Faye Webster
  • Men I Trust
  • Lucy Dacus
  • Courtney Barnett

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