Arts & Culture

Inaugural Fortress Festival to take over Fort Worth’s Cultural District in 2017

East side of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
East side of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The inaugural Fortress Festival will take over Fort Worth’s Cultural District next year.

Set for April 29-30, 2017, Fortress Festival will be the culmination of nearly two years’ work from newly formed productions and promotions company Fortress Presents, which was founded by Alec Jhangiani and Ramtin Nikzad, both of whom were formerly aligned with the Lone Star Film Festival and Lone Star Film Society.

Together with Margin Walker Presents, itself a spin-off of Austin-founded Transmission Entertainment (and which is producing the new Sound on Sound Fest next month outside Austin), and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the two-day Fortress Festival will feature, per press materials, “internationally-acclaimed headliners alongside some of today’s hottest up-and-coming music acts, as well as a variety of local artists and boundary-testing musical pioneers.”

Those musical bookings will be spread across two stages: The Modern will set up a stage near its reflecting pool, and another stage will be erected at Will Rogers Memorial Center.

In addition, Nikzad said in an interview Monday afternoon that Fortress Festival will be about more than just music, thanks to the event’s location.

“The Cultural District was our first choice,” Nikzad said. “In many ways, it’s the ideal place for us to do it. Festival attendees will be able to enjoy their favorite bands live, nestled among the stunning and juxtaposed architectural styles of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Will Rogers Memorial Center, and surrounded by other beautiful landmarks like the Kimbell Art Museum and Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

“In addition to great music, they’ll be able to stroll into the museum galleries and experience world-renowned art, and walk to the many restaurants and live music venues located within a few walkable blocks from the Cultural District — all creating an integrated and unforgettable festival experience.”

There’s also precedent for live music events in that corner of Fort Worth, with both Jazz by the Boulevard and the Fort Worth Music Festival having been staged there in the past. Fortress Festival will join the ranks of established Fort Worth festivals like Untapped, the Ranch Bash and Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival.

Planning for Fortress Festival began in earnest in June 2015, when Jhangiani and Nikzad parted ways with the Lone Star Film Festival and formed Fortress Presents.

As for more specifics beyond the date and location of Fortress Festival, such as headlining acts, or when tickets go on sale, those details are still being worked out by Fortress Presents and Margin Walker Presents: “That’s still being finalized,” Nikzad said Monday. “We’re still talking through a lot of that.”

To give a sense of how the festival is being conceived, Nikzad did cite a handful of other national events: Big Ears in Knoxville, Tenn. (which features acts like Wilco, Deerhoof and Tortoise), as well as San Francisco’s Noise Pop (which features headliners like Sigur Ros, Young Thug and Car Seat Headrest), the dearly departed Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin and Houston’s Day for Night (which features headliners like Aphex Twin, Run the Jewels and Banks).

“Each festival had something we really like,” Nikzad said. “It’s not always the same thing — you don’t see a commonality between all of them. For every town, you have to come up with your own unique recipe for the right festival.”

Next year, Fort Worth will taste for itself if Fortress Festival found the right recipe.

Preston Jones: 817-390-7713, @prestonjones