Taking place in the Cultural District of Fort Worth, Fortress Festival featured a diverse lineup which included artists such as The Voidz, Father John Misty, and Shabazz Palaces across two separate stages. One of the stages was much larger than the other and served as the main stage, while the smaller acts performed on the smaller stage off to the side.
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Front-woman Alynda Segarra took the stage wearing glittery makeup that glistened as the sun began to set. They played passionately and energetically, which kept the crowd engaged and attracted listeners as they walked by the stage. For the most part the overall environment of the festival was very relaxed, and the crowds didn’t pack in too tightly, meaning everyone had room to breathe, making shows such as this one very enjoyable and relaxing, but still captivating. They ended their set with a heartfelt performance of “Pa’lante” which served as a call to action.
In contrast to the earlier set by Hurray for the Riff Raff, the crowd for The Voidz was much more packed in. This could be partially because they performed on the smaller stage, and perhaps they would have been better suited for the main stage. Regardless, what ensued after Julian finished getting his vocal effects just right, was one of the highlights of the weekend. Their stage lighting never got very bright, and the band was constantly in the shadows with brief flashes of bright, colored beams of light, which created the perfect environment for a Voidz show. They opened with “Pointlessness,” easing the crowd into their set before following it up with the relentless “Pyramid of Bones.” Every single player for the band played with intense vigor, and paying attention to each of them separately revealed how confident they each were in their positions. Rarely dropping their energy level, they played through the most intense tracks from Virtue, as well as a few from Tyranny. By the end of their time, Julian Casablancas had me convinced that he was the coolest guy ever, and his band is equally as cool, despite wearing a UPS jacket and a Coca-Cola hat.
As the headliner for day one, Chromeo had an intricate set design with a set of steps on either side of the stage that led to a platform in the center. Everything was chrome colored, and reflective, with large beams with lights around the outside edges. Dave 1 and P-Thugg took their respective places on opposite sides of the stage, and put on quite the show. Dave moved around the stage a lot striking poses with his guitar and dancing his heart out. At times both of them would walk towards the middle of the stage and pose while playing their guitars before moving back to their spots and going into the next track. They really managed to put on an entertaining show, and provided a grandiose ending to day one of Fortress Festival.
Although they had a fairly minimal setup, consisting of a drum set, synthesizer, drum pad, and a bass, their sound was very textured and complex. They also had a few other instruments that would be used for a few songs such as a ukele, which served as a contrasting element within their electronic-heavy style. Frontwoman Merril Garbus performed intensely, and although none of the members could really move much because they each had to play their respective instruments, their energy came through in their playing.
Courtney Barnett walked out on stage wearing all black, with a bright red electric guitar in her hands. Going off of looks alone, you wouldn’t expect her to be an aggressive performer. However, that misconception was almost immediately dispelled. She strummed her guitar as if she was trying to snap all of the strings, and her hair was constantly trashing around, all while she had a big grin on her face. Her attitude was contagious, leading to an active crowd that was playing close attention to her. A good portion of her set consisted of new songs from her Tell Me How You Really Feel album, which was a nice surprise, and the crowd definitely enjoyed hearing them. At the end of her set, a fan managed to get a gift to her, which she proudly held up for everyone to see.
Father John Misty
In contrast to most of the performances throughout the weekend, Father John Misty had many accompanying members on stage with him, including a trumpet player. There was a lot of fog on the stage, which created a soft glow across the whole stage whenever it was illuminated by bright blue, red, and purple lights. At first glance, Father John Misty looks like a very serious person, one you wouldn’t expect to completely let loose and randomly burst into dance, but that’s exactly what he did, which was met with loud cheers from the audience. Given how many players he had, they had a very thick, layered sound that filled the whole park. Everything about his performance was enthralling, the way he sung, his guitar and tambourine playing, and of course his dancing. Given that it was now night-time, there was a cool breeze and the weather felt perfect, which made the final set of Fortress Festival relaxing and picturesque.
Overall, the environment of Fortress Festival was very laid-back, and made it a much less stressful festival than most other ones. Whereas in other festivals it feels like you constantly have to rush from stage to stage to get a good spot, at Fortress it was usually easy to move up closer because the crowds didn’t mind as much and left plenty of open space between each other. There were many good food options, as well as a free water refill station, and plenty of freebies throughout the fest. The timing was also just right as the weather was warming up, but wasn’t unbearably hot, which only added to the soothing atmosphere.