Fortress Fest 2018 returned to Fort Worth’s cultural district last weekend, building upon and developing its previous year’s performance. Re-mapping of the festival grounds was the most noticeable improvement. Last year, the two stages were too far apart, forcing concertgoers to make a tedious back and forth walk from Will Rogers to the Modern Art Museum. The festival this year was only at Will Rogers Center, which kept both stages close and allowed the fans to see every performer with ease. And the performers delivered on both days.
Saturday’s line-up contained mostly hip-hop and electronica bands and artists. Cure for Paranoia started off the main stage lineup with a high-energy show and comical banter with the audience. Jay Som, Rhapsody, Waxahatchee, Chicano Batman, and Hurray for the Riff Raff kept the momentum steady throughout the rest of the day. Then came the tipping point – the part of each festival when the season veterans take stage.
From 7:00 to 11: 00 PM, RZA with Stone Mecca, De La Soul, The Voids (Julian Casablanca’s retro, lo-fi side project), and Chromeo made one continuous party.
Rock, Americana, and a surprising amount of local bands filled the Sunday schedule. Midnight Opera, Pearl Earl, Ronnie Heart, Andy Pickett, Vandoliers, Henry the Archer, and The Texas Gentlemen are all based in DFW. It’s great that the festival shows off its hometown talent. Each gave a grade A show, but most of these bands gig around town regularly. I’m hoping next year there will be more touring indie/rock acts on the bill.
Courtney Barnett and Father John Misty were the main headliners. The singer-songwriters have dedicated fan bases thanks to their critically acclaimed past work. Both are weeks away from releasing new albums: Barnett’s Tell Me How You Really Feel is scheduled to be released later this month, and Tillman’s God’s Favorite Customer in June. They played a handful of new songs from their upcoming albums that were well received. “Nameless, Faceless” (Barnett) grungy riffs and driving drums kept the crowd bobbing in tempo, and the crowd sang along with Father John Misty’s the choral hook in “Mr. Tillman”.
Like every festival, I left becoming a fan of new music. One particular is Ronnie Heart. Folks, I highly recommend you stream his 6-song EP, You (R) Mine, right now. The entire album gives 1980s Prince vibes. It’s posh, funky, and fun. Hurray for the Riff Raff was another group that took me by surprise. I initially was planning on taking a lunch break during their set, but their first song caught my attention. I’ve been listening to their recent album The Navigator since, which was one of The Revue’s Favorite Albums of 2017.
Fortress Fest is scheduled to return April 27th and 28th of next year. You can purchase blind pre-sale tickets Tuesday, May 8th. The 2019 line-up is currently TBD. After the successful second year, Fortress Fest is on its way being the must-go-to festival in North Texas.
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