Cover Photo By Jon Birondo
Fort Worth had their first annual Fortress Festival, with a stunning lineup to accommodate. Modern hip-hop staple Run The Jewels, shoegaze legends (on the first stop of a reunion tour) Slowdive, electronic mastermind Flying Lotus, and dynamic electropop duo Purity Ring. Spread out between the Will Rodgers Memorial Center and the Fort Worth Modern Museum of Art, the two-stage festival held their ground despite the inconsistent, frigid, and windy weather. With a lineup of varied musicians, local food trucks, and an organized staff that accommodated everyone as best as they could the festival was a smooth success, and showed that Fort Worth can make their mark on the music festival scene here in North Texas.
Day One’s chilly weather detracted from the experience; some festival goers coming in shorts, before being greeted with strong winds and 60 degree weather. Despite this, the headliners did what they could and helped the audience enjoy the weekend. Dallas native Blue, The Misfit’s set was greeted with a brief amount of sunlight amidst his energetic set. Blues-rock group Houndmouth wrapped up the last amount of daylight before Flying Lotus took the stage. Performing an eclectic DJ set that ranged from trap remixes of the iconic Twin Peaks score, to Kendrick Lamar instrumentals, to a Captain Murphy segue, Steven Ellison brought the house down behind his psychedelic stage set-up. Run The Jewels closed off the night with an energetic set that composed of songs from all three LPs. Day 1, despite the conditions, still brought what it offered.
Day 2 brought about an eclectic array of musicians against a sunnier albeit chilly and windy backdrop. Chicago country-soul group Whitney perhaps brought one of the best sets of the weekend at the Modern Stage, which included flying hats, a baptism, and a kiss in the water. The return of Slowdive was the day’s biggest event; the 22-year reunion for the shoegaze giants was marked with eager fans left and right and BIG demographic change from country-rock group Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. The transition from both sets saw cowboy boots traded in for canvas Vans sneakers. Once the English rockers came to the stage it felt like 22 years had not passed as they played through songs old and new; the result being a cathartic hour as the sun set. Purity Ring followed which brought a playful and beautiful stage design to their witch-house/electro-pop songs. With the day before as a precursor, more people were prepared for the cold nights making this day a memorable one for the books.
With an impressive arsenal at their disposal, Fortress Festival proved to be a massive success, with tickets for next year’s fest already on sale. The smooth turnout combated chilly weather and windy conditions, but they persevered. While the two-day duration made it hard to see other headliners, in exchange for other ones (Alvvays, Peter Hook & The Lights, S U R V I V E) it’s safe to say fans were content with what they got. The organization of the festival, despite the confusing layout amongst a block of Forth Worth, proved that Fortress Festival’s presence in North Texas is here to stay.
Photos By Jon Birondo & Zachary Taylor. Special Thanks Emily Cline of The Dentonite.