with Run the Jewels, Purity Ring, Flying Lotus, Slowdive and more
Fort Worth Cultural District, Fort Worth
Saturday, April 29, and Sunday, April 30, 2017
Like any first-year festival, the two-day, two-stage Fortress Fest was not without its flaws. But last weekend it proved it could grow into the high-profile, multi-genre festival North Texas has been missing.
Fortress' main stage in front of the Will Rogers Center hosted successful headlining sets from Flying Lotus and Run the Jewels Saturday night, and Purity Ring Sunday night, with the latter bringing a beautiful light installation.
The second stage, a floating one on the Modern Art Museum’s reflecting pond, was a unique touch — even if the band Alvvays grew impatient with sound issues and complained about performing on a “raft." Wolf Parade, at least, seemed to enjoy the "raft." They even enticed some members of the crowd to hop into the reflecting pond.
The logistics of navigating between the two stages posed the biggest problem. It was not easy to go back and forth between the Will Rogers Center lawn and the north side of the Modern Art Museum, where the floating stage was located. After exiting the museum, attendees had to walk what seemed like half a mile around the festival grounds and through the main entrance and bag check each time.
The space in front of the Will Rogers Center seemed large enough to accommodate two stages, with room for vendors. In this case the ambitiousness of the festival hindered the experience, but the kinks could no doubt be worked out for next year.
And one major bullet was dodged: Inclement weather that was projected for the weekend ended up missing the festival completely. As a precautionary measure, the festival's start had already been pushed back from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, which unfortunately meant cutting local Ronnie Hart, Bobby Sessions and Cure For Paranoia from the bill.
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However DFW was still represented throughout the weekend, with performances from Blue the Misfit, Sam Lao, Sudie, -topic and the Burning Hotels.
Surprisingly, the turn-out for the two days was remarkably different. Saturday’s hip-hop heavy lineup including Flying Lotus and Run the Jewels drew an estimated 2,000-3,000 people, whereas Sunday’s indie-driven lineup drew a sparse crowd to the main stage until headliner Purity Ring closed the festival. Even then, the crowd was much smaller than the night before.
Margin Walker deserves kudos for booking a wide variety of acts, from the Cambodian psych rock band Dengue Fever to afrobeat band Golden Dawn Arkestra, Southern rockers Quaker City Night Hawks and shoegaze stalwarts Slowdive.
Fortress Festival laid a solid foundation to build upon; now it’s time to wait and see what they can make of it.