Update 1/26/18: Bedouine, Ronnie Heart, Cure for Paranoia, Henry the Archer, Andy Pickett, Midnight Opera, Pearl Earl, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Waxahatchee and the Voidz have been added to the lineup.
In its inaugural year, attendance for Fort Worth's Fortress Festival was so-so, despite a killer lineup. It drew the largest numbers for hip-hop headliner Run the Jewels, so it makes sense that for its second lineup, revealed today, the festival is doubling down on the genre.
Nostalgic '90s hip-hop acts De La Soul, RZA and Shabazz Palaces make up a quarter of the announced acts that will perform April 28-29 in Fort Worth's cultural district.
The press release announcing the lineup shed some light on the vision for this year's Fortress Fest:
"This year's lineup is very unique when compared to the larger festival landscape today for several reasons — it puts a heavy emphasis on female-led groups, acclaimed singer/songwriters, funk and soul, and '90s nostalgia hip-hop," it said.
Father John Misty
De La Soul
RZA (feat. Stone Mecca)
Lee Fields & The Expressions
The Texas Gentlemen
Last year, Fortress Fest booked several local acts, but three of those performances were canceled last minute because of the threat of inclement weather. Once again, the festival has shown a commitment to local music by booking the Texas Gentlemen and Vandoliers, and it says there are six more local acts still to be announced.
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Many of the national acts playing this year's Fortress Fest will be familiar to regular Dallas concertgoers; most have stopped through Dallas in the last few years. Singer-songwriter Father John Misty played Bomb Factory in October, a show that Jeff Gage called "a fascinating clinic in showmanship." And Courtney Barnett stopped by Southern Methodist University's McFarlin Auditorium just a few weeks later with Kurt Vile. Jeff Strowe described that rock 'n' roll show as charming in its minimalism.
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Fortress Fest recently announced that it was taking crowdfunded investments in the festival and the presenting company built around it, Fortress Presents. The investment levels begin at $250, which gets you a one-day general admission pass to the festival and a 5-percent discount on additional passes.
In an interview with the Observer at the time, Fortress co-founder Alec Jhangiani hinted at where he and his partner, Ramtin Nikzad, are hoping to take their fest.
“We take programming very seriously, and it’s important to us to continue to put together the strongest lineup we can every year,” Jhangiani said. “That can mean a lot of things like the profile of artists, more diverse overall, more in tune with our audience, as well as challenging expectations. We hope to progress in all of these areas.”
This year's lineup may not exceed last year's — which was pretty star-studded, with Purity Ring, Run the Jewels, Flying Lotus, Slowdive, Peter Hook and others — but it is at least on par with it. Fortress' future depends on whether this year's event can correct logistical issues (mainly the paths to and from stages) that came up in its first year and whether it's able draw more people to Fort Worth for a lineup that is equally worth the drive.