Photos and article by Dustin Schneider
Fortress Festival returned to Fort Worth for the second year, invading the front lawn of Will Roger’s Auditorium in the cities’ art and cultural district. This year’s sophomore lineup seemed to gravitate around the success of last years hip hop bands like Run The Jewels, Flying Lotus, and Blue the Misfit, especially on Saturday. It was an interesting gamble, that paid off well by the time headliner Chromeo took the stage. But the artists that seemed to be garnering the most attention were Wu-Tang alumni RZA featuring Stone Mecca and the legendary hip-hop act, De La Soul. Sets by both these artists whipped the crowd gathered around the main stage into a frenzy, even though De La Souls’ Plug 2 kept asking, “Yo Dallas, where ya’ll at?” while being deep in the heart of Cowtown.
Sunday started out with a lot of focus towards the local acts with the likes of Pearl Earl, Ronnie Hart, Andy Pickett, Henry The Archer, The Vandoliers, and The Texas Gentlemen taking up the majority of the bill. But things really got turned up when Australian rocker Courtney Barnett took the stage. As the sun set, Courtney ripped through her string of grunge rock-inspired tunes that had her heating up Coachella a couple of weeks prior. This was the rock I was waiting for, and someone I left wanting to know more about. Fittingly, Courtney will be continuing her remaining tour dates with Saturday rocker Waxahatchee.
Wrapping up the weekend was the man of mystery, John Tillman, aka Father John Misty. Playing off the success of his Grammy-nominated 2017 release Pure Comedy, Father John Misty led the Sunday night crowd like a cultesque choir director, and the audience was eating it up. Recently Father John Misty has collaborated with the likes of Lady Gaga and Beyonće and is currently working on a new album to be released in late 2018.
For the second year, Fortress Fest improved a lot of things that were irritating in its inaugural year. Keeping both stages within the same grounds worked out great, and kept the aggravation of having to choose to walk a quarter mile to see a band or totally miss them at bay. I would recommend that they improve their lighting setup, mainly on the main stage. If an artist stood on the edge of the stage, or in front of the monitors, they quickly disappeared into the darkness of evening as evident by De La Souls’ performance on Saturday.
But as someone that questioned the lineup when it was announced and was worried about the festival pigeonholing itself in only the second year, I left excited and refreshed with all the music I experienced over the weekend. Year two is in the books and now I’ll have to patiently await what’s in store for year three.