The inaugural Fortress Festival has come to an end but on Saturday afternoon our "battle" had only just begun.
Here's a look back at FWN's Fortress Festival experience.
The Nissan kicked over (barely) and as I left the house my 4yr old fixed his death stare on me until I turned the corner.
He had good reason to be pissed.
I had been out of town for work the week prior and now that I had returned home here I was the next day leaving again, this time for a weekend stay-cation in the Fort Worth Cultural District.
I picked up my colleague Daniel Daniel and we made our way towards the unknown (which is exactly what an inaugural music festival is btw.. the unknown).
First stop? The Modern, to claim our media wristbands. We had arrived rather early and at the time, zero was the amount of minutes that line gave (did I do that right?? idk, just read it back again, still confused af).
However ... by 4pm ... that changed ...
Despite the line, the few festival-goers I spoke with said it moved quickly. Additionally, wristbands had been made available for pickup since April 25th.
So far, so good.
From there we went to park and found a Farrington Field lot to be ideal. $10 to park and worth every penny. I've parked much much further away at other festivals for much much more money.
Back at The Modern, Daniel Daniel and I took in the museum as we waited for the doors to open (free admission for festival attendees). DD got locked in on this super rad Katherine Bernhardt painting.
The festival opened with Sam Lao on The Modern floating stage. Despite just opening the doors, a decent crowd filled the lawn, head bobbing to Lao's beats.
From there we thought we'd give "the walk" a try. "The walk" being the walk between The Modern stage and the Will Rogers stage.
At first it took a bit of doing to navigate the walk. The fine folks at Fortress Festival provided maps and on-site signage but many of us on that first walk between stages had a hard time determining the critical path.
After completing it once however, everyone we had spoken with seemed to have it dialed in.
And look, it wasn't all that far either. I heard some complaints, but in my view you're either grasping for something to complain about or you simply haven't attended that many music festivals.
Like, have y'all ever attended a fest at Zilker in ATX? Or any of the major fests in California? That's a lot of walking.
Plus, I mean, you kind of cruised along this scenic path that weaved behind the Kimbell Art Museum.
I know they had plans to make the stages closer together, but I still considered this a win, especially for a first time fest.
See! We caught Lao AND still made it in time for Blue, The Misfit.
Throughout the weekend it worked out this way for other instances of artist overlap between the two stages. We did not see every band at Fortress Festival but we could have made it happen if we were so inclined.
Next up we decided to stroll down vendor lane and scope the festival's wares.
Pan Ector Industries carried a couple different limited Fortress Festival t-shirt designs. Choose the design, the t-shirt style and your favorite color, and voila!
Next up was Mama P's Wholesome Grinding Co. There we met "Papa Grind" Marc Wein and crew.
Marc knew more about pipes than Mario Bros. ya dig? Seriously, this guy was a savant.
If you are ever in the market, be sure to check them out on location at their Spicewood Smoke Shoppe or peruse their vast online store.
The guys from Windfall Clothing had a tv with Super Smash Bros. cued up (needless to say the Smash Bros. piqued our interest). Their designs were better than the Smash Bros., and coming from me, that says A LOT about their craftsmenship.
Last but not least on vendor row we just HAD to take a FWN family portrait on-board the Folsom Photo Bus.
The guys that operated the photo bus set it up proper and left us with perhaps our favorite memento from this past weekend's festivities.
After all that walking and talking we decided we better cool down with a Juiceland treat.
I like juice and smoothies as much as the next guy but it's not something I'm passionate about or anything.
But if you don't mind, allow me a moment to clearly express my feelings regarding these tasty juice-a-licious concoctions:
YUMMMYYY! YUMMMYYY! YUMMMYYY!
[one more time for posterity]
These tasted so good I asked a friend of ours to give them the pro treatment!
Look, I'm somewhat decent with a camera, but these juicy delights deserved better than "somewhat decent." They deserved a professional.
Feast your eyes Fort Worthians!
The rest of the day we stuck to the Will Rogers stage where we took in Houndmouth, Flying Lotus and Run The Jewels back-to-back-to-back.
Flying Lotus followed by Run The Jewels made for what in my estimation was the best three consecutive hours of the weekend.
Flylo's beats and synced up visual showcase hypnotized everyone around me in the swelling main stage crowd.
RTJ dominated the Will Rogers crowd right after, performing all their hits with an infectious stage presence that's helped made them so popular.
Here's a peek but be sure to peep our full RTJ photo gallery here.
Did some work on the desktop when I arrived home then finally dozed off around 2AM when I came to this realization: "Holy cows and calves, there's a Day 2!!"
Day 2 carried with it a different objective entirely for me. The sun was out and my camera was out; today's focus was on the bands and taking photos of their performances.
We parked in the same lot, paid the same $10 and didn't look back.
Between the two of us we've seen Topic like a hundred times so given the imbalance of our time split between the two stages on Day 1 we decided to camp out at The Modern stage for Sudie, followed by Golden Dawn Arkestra.
After soaking up some rays, we made our way back to Will Rogers in time to catch local good ol' boys Quaker City Night Hawks.
The guys looked good on the big stage; of course it's nothing new for them but after only catching them live at a local venues, this made for my first time seeing them at a major festival on a stage this big.
They crushed it.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats followed up Quaker City Night Hawks on the Will Rogers stage and lemme tell ya, the ironic juxtaposition of these two bands on the schedule was not lost on me...
Night Hawks or Night Sweats?? Why not both?! A night hawk with night sweats if you will. Sold!
Dad jokes aside, NRATNS grooved up that stage like somebody's business!
For more NRATNS photos, check the link I mentioned earlier.
We acquired more tasty treats from Juiceland then quickly cut back to The Modern to snap a few pics of Alvvays before hustling back to the ol' Willy Rogers stage as to ensure our attendance for Slowdive.
En route to Will Rogers we bumped into Robby and Jen Rux from Dreamy Life; they had come to catch Slowdive's set. We decided to join forces and together we took in one of the best performances of the weekend.
What was it like you ask? I can't describe it.
Okay, okay. I'll try (kind of)...
Slowdive played Slowdive songs, and the band Slowdive writes really really good songs. The insane stage visuals enhanced what was already destined to be an awesome performance.
Complete Slowdive photo gallery over at the before-mentioned and ever-lingering photo jump.
In making my way back in time for Peter Hook & The Light at The Modern, I once again demonstrated that talk of "the walk" had been overblown.
ICYMI: FWN'er, Flashbulb'er and all-around badass good dude Lyle Brooks interviewed Peter Hook for Fort Worth Noise back in early April. At one point in the interview Hook relayed to Brooks that they'd be playing Joy Division and New Order songs as part of their Fortress Festival performance.
I was thinking back to the interview when on cue Hook announced their next song as "Ceremony," a Joy Division fave. The audience let out a collective audible sigh of "HOLY SHIT! DID HE JUST SAY 'CEREMONY??'"
I think this was my favorite moment of Hook's set, that moment the fans realized they'd be getting some Joy Division and New Order action tonight.
Full Peter Hook gallery over at this relentless stalker-esque link!
Purity Ring is amazing and all but tbh I enjoyed the entirety of Peter Hook's set then parked myself in The Modern lobby until Daniel Daniel met up with me again.
I was weeding out photos from my digi camera viewer when I looked up to see DD with a Fortress Festival-sized smile on his face. It was time to call it a weekend.
Fortress Festival ruled y'all, it's that simple.
And while I may have added the qualifier earlier that this indeed was the inaugural year of the fest, it didn't feel that way at all.
From the magnitude of the acts booked to the fun and friendly vendors, to the visual aesthetics and overall aptitude of the festival's organizers, Fortress Festival felt like a surly veteran of the festival game.
Certainly lessons can always be learned and any good fest organizer must always be looking for ways to improve year-over-year; that said, Fortress Festival proved to be a fort worth fighting for.
Until next year Fort Worthians,
about the word writer person:
Prewitt Scott-Jackson writes Dad poetry & short fiction when he's not hyping and typing for Fort Worth Noise. His writing can be found in Ghost City Press (New York), Five 2 One Magazine (Los Angeles), and Sick Lit Magazine (Texas), among others. He prefers short walks on the beach because – and I quote – “It’s really hard to walk on sand.”