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Concert Experience

Fortress Fest, Fairy-Tales, & Fun

May 1, 2018

Written by: Kate Phuah

This past weekend I was lucky enough to get to attend Fortress Fest! I had never been to Fort Worth before either, but my expectations were high and it did not disappoint.

Held in the heart of Fort Worth’s cultural district, Fortress Fest was a small but riveting experience. They had tons of food trucks and stalls, vendors, and the decorations and lights were exquisite! The running theme colors of pink and blue made me feel like I was in some sort of magical fairytale-like land.

The mystical ambiance paired with the live music was what made the experience the best of the best. I was really happy that they scheduled all the acts in such a way that no act overlapped another. I saw every band I wanted to see but my favorites were RZA ft. Stone Mecca, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Tune-Yards, Courtney Barnett, and Father John Misty.

RZA & Stone Mecca really packed a lot of heat together. It was an extremely high energy set which made for more yelling and headbanging in the crowd- my favorite thing to do at concerts. RZA was also extremely photogenic and everything he did looked great on camera which made things a lot easier on my part.

Seeing Courtney Barnett was also a huge highlight for me. I have listened to her heavily for the past couple of years and she has influenced my own music writing a lot. Her style is so unique and I love that she never uses a pick when playing guitar because I hate using picks, but guitar-elitists will tell you you are inadequate if you play solely with your fingers. (It isn’t.) Her set lasted an hour, but it felt like only 20 minutes since I was having so much fun. She was very polite with the crowd and looked genuinely happy to be there. She played some of her old songs, notably

Avant Gardener

, which I screamed all the words to, and some of her new singles. Courtney Barnett was truly a treat to see live, and seeing her audience so packed made me happy to know a queer woman can single-handedly dominate a festival! 10/10.

Father John Misty was another set I had been looking forward to, he was apparently very, very good live. His set design consisted of 7, maybe 8 different guitars, a keyboard, drums, bass, more keyboards and guitars, and a 3-piece brass section. It was elaborate to say the least. It could definitely be easy to get swallowed up by all the other instruments on stage, but when FTM came out, he dominated the space. He opened up with

I Love You, Honeybear

, a dramatic love ballad about his wife. He also played some old favorites like

Real Love Baby,

and some of his newer singles like

Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All


Mr. Tillman.

He can sing just fine, but one thing I will say is that the man can dance. His moves are very simple, but the way he dances is a kind of suave you just can’t learn. He’s got the groove. His set ended with a bang, his band going all out on their myriad of instruments and his dancing at an energetic peak. It really left me breathless and I had to snap myself out of the Misty-trance to drive myself home 2.5 hours that same night.

In my opinion, the second annual Fortress Fest was success. Even though I had my favorites, every act I saw last weekend was incredible in its own right. Definitely be on the lookout for Fortress next year, as I see them growing and improving even more with time.

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