Despite a delayed start on Saturday, the inaugural Fortress Festival was a success. Both days ran smoothly, and even the Fort Worth weather cooperated. Fortress certainly set the standard high, so we can’t wait to see how they top this next year. The lineup and dates might not be announced yet, but for now you can grab significantly discounted presale tickets for next year! Here’s what went down last week:



Despite hailing from Indiana, Houndmouth’s twangy brand of rock felt right at home in Fort Worth with its cowboys and country mindset (I saw two men riding horses along the highway on my way to the fest…you can’t make this stuff up), and the crowd seemed to agree by giving them one of the warmest welcomes of the weekend. After the departure of one of their members last year, the group added two saxophonists to the group, which balanced out the folksier elements of their sound nicely. A major highlight of the set was their biggest single “Sedona,” which had the crowd swaying and singing along. Overall, Houndmouth’s mid-pace set was a great way to bookend the rockier daytime sets before the hip hop-infused sounds on deck for the evening took over. (Jamie Park)

Houndmouth, photo by Tammara Elkassih

Flying Lotus

If you could take a peek into the mind of an artist, who would you choose? Flying Lotus, the musical persona of Steven Ellison, would be a strong pick as proven by his set full of reworks of familiar songs that bumped, grooved, and blended in with his own material. Notable inclusions were the Twin Peaks theme, Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, and FlyLo friend Kendrick. The dual screen effect provided by a translucent screen at the front of the stage meant double the whacky visuals and made for a supremely trippy experience. The crowd had lots of love to share in the form of applause, cheers, and a blunt, which was thrown onstage by an especially generous crowd member. And if anyone’s wondering, one of our DJs chatted with FlyLo on Sunday and can confirm that he did end up partaking in the free green. What a guy. (Jamie Park)

Flying Lotus, photo by Tammara Elkassih
Flying Lotus, gif by Savannah Sherer

Run the Jewels

The anticipation leading into Fortress’ headlining set grew near-palpable as the night drew to a climax; following Flying Lotus’ entrancing set, the crowd was already whipped into a mild frenzy. Count on Run the Jewels to drive the night into pure hysteria: by the time El-P and Killer Mike stormed the Will Rogers stage to “We Are the Champions,” it was clear the duo was hellbent on putting on a blockbuster night like no other. Banging RTJ3 standout “Talk to Me” out right off the bat, the two rappers proceeded to careen across highlights from both the recent release and 2014’s RTJ2. Small interludes punctuated each set of headbangers, bringing either the incisive, politically-conscious wit RTJ is known for, or a humorous anecdote (all of which were NSFW). Throughout, the crowd remained enthralled by the duo’s performance and presence; rather than artists going through the motions, Mike and Jaime’s dynamic made it clear that Fort Worth was seeing two friends doing what they love. Closing off the night arm-in-arm with a chill rendition of “Down,” Run the Jewels capped the fest’s first day with the perfect mix of ferocity, insight, and feels; if (but more likely when) Fortress returns next year, the fest will have to fight to stay gold given RTJ’s performance alone. (Benji Lunday)

Run the Jewels, photo by Kevin Barahona




Canadian indie rockers Alvvays were naturally unfazed by the colder temps of Sunday evening. They handled the acoustic weirdness that comes with playing in the middle of a pond like the pros that they are, moving briskly through fan favorite tracks like “Party Police” and “Archie, Marry Me” with ease. Some new material from the long-awaited follow up to their self-titled debut was promising and hinted at a new direction for the group. As always (pun definitely intended), Alvvays brought warmth and charm with their sunny tunes and the crowd ate up their set. Being able to sit on the Modern’s grassy lawn while taking in all in made for a relaxed, summery atmosphere, even as day turned to night on the abnormally chilly late-April day. (Jamie Park)

Alvvays, photo by Jamie Park

Golden Dawn Arkestra

Golden Dawn Arkestra’s influence subscribes from the interplanetary jazz-funk of Sun Ra. The ensemble was large with over 10 people on the Modern stage, and it was a feast on the eyes as Golden Dawn Arkestra gave sensory overload. Masks, eccentric dancing, colorful attire, blowing out incense, and their sound being so full yet distinct. The lead singer even got out of the stage to run into the crowd to execute various pseudo mystical rituals alongside the psychedelic funk from his band mates. It’s strange that Austin would have this collective formed in this first place, but it was a welcomed idea by how guests were in sync under the spell of Sun Ra’s impact. (Tony Nguyen)

Golden Dawn Arkestra, photo by Kevin Barahona


Day transitioned to night during Slowdive’s elegant set. With colorful, psychedelic projection behind them, the band delivered a set that was nicely balanced between new and old songs, unified by their signature wall of sound. Vocalist and guitarist Rachel Goswell smiled warmly at photographers in the pit– the whole band looked completely comfortable on stage. Classics like “Crazy for You” and “Alison” put fans in an appreciative trance, and the new singles “Star Roving” and “Sugar for the Pill” sounded equally great. The release of their new album is just days away, and Slowdive proved with their performance that they are back in full force. (Savannah Sherer)

Slowdive, gif by Savannah Sherer

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever offered a cultural mash-up, beyond the obscure Cambodian pop you can hear psychedelia, laid back western guitars, the lounge groove of Ethiopian soul and Bollywood soundtracks. All six members balanced each other out in harmonies and grooves with their own unique flairs of comedic bits and playful musicianship. Crowd favorite “Tiger Phone Card” enticed the audience with catchy strings and percussion. So while Dengue Fever is heavily influence by 60s Cambodian rock, their performance showcased how much they stand out with other bands that get labeled with the blanket term “world music”. Their successful hybrid of a multitude of various sounds spanning different genres generate a refreshing take on global sensibility. (Tony Nguyen)
Dengue Fever, photo by Kevin Barahona

Purity Ring

As always, Purity Ring’s stage setup was dazzling. Strings of lights hung in rows across the stage, framing instrumentalist Corrin Roddick’s crystal-encompassed podium. Vocalist Megan James made use of the entirety of the stage, dancing back and forth between the front edge and the forest of hanging lights. The crystals that Roddick stood behind were not only lights, but MIDI instruments as well, and lit up as he hit them with drumsticks. James’ pitch-perfect singing floated atop Roddick’s instrumentation that was surprisingly heavy in the low end. The crowd packed in but didn’t dance as much as expected, instead opting to relax and take in the magical sights and sounds of Purity Ring. (Savannah Sherer)