We’re all secretly counting down the days until Fortress Festival returns. In two short years, Fort Worth’s premier music festival has carved out a reputation as the local showcase for established greats and young talent. Tying the curated lineups together is an emphasis on authenticity and, increasingly, local talent.
This year’s fest features local favorites, European trendsetters and some less familiar names who will certainly capture our wonder and attention for two whirlwind days later this month.
WHO YOU KNOW
This year’s Fortress Festival will be headlined by one of our own. Soul crooner Leon Bridges rode a national wave of early ’60s nostalgia with the release of his first album, Coming Home. As many music publications have noted, the versatile singer-songwriter has since broadened his sound to include tangential influences (R&B/jazz).
Another local act, War Party, should be familiar to locals. The post-punk band put out its first album six years ago and has been gigging regularly since. Frontman/guitarist Cameron Smith has been instrumental (pun intended) in supporting local musicians through a North Texas-based label and record store he co-founded, Dreamy Life Records. The band’s songs are consistently catchy, upbeat and free-spirited.
The time may be ripe for Meach Pango. The quintet of twentysomethings love performing, and it shows. You can expect souring guitar melodies, carefully intermingled vocals and explosively energetic performances from these rising stars.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
Fort Worth native Solar Slim is a noted producer, songwriter and beatmaker. He recently released his first LP, Vice City. The longplayer features R&B-tinged trap beats and biographical confessionals about his past life. After years of being known as the talent behind the talent, the upcoming performance should be meaningful both for the wordsmith and Fort Worth’s hip-hop-loving community.
Cardiac the Ghost
Hip-hop will play a prominent role in this year’s Fortress Festival lineup. Dallas rapper Cardiac the Ghost is a lyrical alchemist who transmutes hip-hop, pop, jazz and rock into something all his own.
Veteran dream-poppers The Cush is fronted by a married couple (Burette and Gabrielle Douglas) who have been making music for more than 24 years. The quartet’s most recent release, The Isle of Man EP, was released by Dreamy Life Records.
WHERE PARTY BEFORE AND AFTER
This Friday, you can join Fortress Festival and Indigo Yoga for Music+Flow. The event is free for Indigo Yoga members and $25 for everyone else. Ronnie Heart’s DJ set will feature Fortress Festival artists.
Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas will host the official pre-party April 14.
Two hours before Fortress Festival kicks off, Mayor Betsy Price will lead a bike ride from Mellow Johnny’s to Deep Ellum Funkytown Fermatorium before heading over to the Cultural District to officially open the gates to Fortress Festival. Visit Fort Worth and Art Tooth are partnering with Fortress Festival for the opening ceremony.
Fortress Festival co-founder Alec Jhangiani said two official after parties are in the works. Beyond those two yet-to-be-confirmed events, attendees should find plenty of bars to celebrate at in the nearby Crockett Row at West 7th. Follow Fortress Festival on Facebook and Instagram (@fortressfest) for updates.