With its Cultural District layout redesigned for Year 2, perhaps the best thing about Fortress Festival, the coolest two days on Fort Worth's concert calendar, is that everyone in attendance this weekend will, if they want to, be able to see and hear every mad, funky note.
You can treat each and every one of the 26 acts as a must-see, can't-miss showstopper if you want, which is the immediate improvement fans asked for after having to plan out 10-minute walks from the stage in The Modern's side-yard last year to the bigger stage closer to the Will Rogers Auditorium, to catch this or that act .
This year, both main stages will be located on the rectangular plot contained by Will Rogers and Rip Johnson Roads on the south, east and west, and Lancaster Avenue on the north. The acts will perform in a staggered schedule that gets rid of the need for any of those executive decisions you may have had to make a year ago.
But we know better than to assume that a predominantly DFW crowd will be a come-early-and-leave-late type of audience. So here are five bands each day that you should have your undivided attention. And if you can't make it to the festival, we'll be covering it live at dfw.com.
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Fortress Fest has done a good job of giving each day a certain feel. Saturday is a raucous beat-driven party. Sunday has more of a rock, or singer-songwriter feel to it.
This year's lineup stays on message.
Spoiler alert: Festival headliners are festival headliners for a reason. If you're missing them, you're doing it wrong.
The two-headed electro-beast will beam with personality, and funk. It's two dudes: one part Jewish professor-of-cool guitarist and vocalist who goes by Dave 1, mixed with a stout portion of Montreal-to-Manhattan Arab talkbox, bass and synth hero who goes by P-Thugg.
They are both surrounded at all times by walls of keyboards. It can't be avoided; you will dance.
Their latest single is called "Must've Been," and features pop singer DRAM, but honestly, that's not the duo's best work. If you need to get familiar, try on 2011's "Night by Night" for size. They go on at 10:30 p.m.
De La Soul
Remember when they were supposed to headline one of those beer-plus-music festivals here in 2015? Well, as will happen in Fort Worth in spring, weather happened, so their set didn't.
De La has gifted hip-hop heads with some of the most seminal, forward-thinking jams in the genre like "Me, Myself and I," "A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturday" and "Stakes Is High" for decades. By the way, Fort Worth's weather forecast calls for high temperatures in the upper 70s for both Saturday and Sunday with just a few clouds in the sky, according to the National Weather Service.
They take the stage at 8:30 p.m.
RZA, featuring Stone Mecca
RZA is a founding member of another of hip-hop's highest mountains: the Wu-Tang Clan. When he gets together on stage with funk/soul group Stone Mecca, it's so much more full-bodied than just a rap show.
They appear at 7 p.m.
You read that right, and it's not a typo or a vague DFW geographical reference. We could very well look back on Fortress Fest 2018 and say that virtuoso indie rock songwriter Katie Crutchfield & Co. delivered the best set all weekend.
Waxahatchee is the kind of indie band that's consistently rated highly by high-minded music outfits like Pitchfork, but it's also indicative of another Fortress Fest trend this year. Fortress founders Alec Jhangiani and Ramtin Nikzad actively looked to fill the bill with great female artists and bands fronted by women.
But Waxahatchee isn't a quota-filler. They'd be a big addition to any festival.
They go on at 5 p.m.
Pound for pound, Rapsody is one of the hip-hop world's most talented emcees. She's not as flagrant as a Cardi B or a Nicky Minaj, but offers more substance per bar than either of them.
She performs at 4:15 p.m.
Arrive early on Day 2 of Fortress Festival. You do not want to miss some of the most interesting acts of the festival, who go on earlier in the day Sunday.
For instance: Pearl Earl is one of the coolest things happening in the local music scene. The four-piece psych-glam rock trio hails from Denton, and anyone who has seen them at a drunken house party knows. You won't be able to look away when they hit the stage at 2 p.m.
Lee Fields & the Expressions
Lee Fields is one of those artists who belongs to a different era than the one the universe put him in. His retro-funk, perhaps more in the live format than in produced music videos, conjures images of James Brown.
Fields and his Expressions play the Cultural District at 3:30 p.m.
Fortress Fest is a big deal for Courtney Barnett and her fans. It's the Aussie rocker's first stop on her U.S. tour in support of her album called "Tell Me How You Really Feel," which is due out in May.
She's released two singles off the record, including a really catchy track called Nameless/Faceless. Fellow Fortress Fest-er Waxahatchee will hit the road with Barnett for the bulk of the tour.
Barnett plays at 7 p.m.
The Texas Gentlemen
The Texas Gentlemen is a collective more than a "band" with "members." Intrigued? So are we.
If country-funk is a thing, the Gentlemen fit right in there. If it's not, they'll probably invent it at some point.
It's easier to list the folks they haven't collaborated with than the ones they have collaborated with, but their partnership with Kris Kristofferson in 2016 sure was cool. It's going to be cool again Sunday at 8 p.m.
Father John Misty
Again. Headliners = good. This is a no-brainer.
If you buy Fortress Festival tickets but miss Father John Misty, did you really go to Fortress Fest?
"Profound" isn't a profound enough word to describe his lyrics. He's introspective but also somehow polarizing. He might be the most interesting man in popular music today, and at 9:15 p.m. Sunday, he belongs to Fort Worth.
2018 Fortress Festival
- April 28-29
- Cultural District, Fort Worth (bounded by Will Rogers Road, Lancaster Avenue and Rip Johnson Road)
- $59 per day, $149 VIP per day; $99 for two-day pass, $265 for two-day VIP. Parking $15 per day, $25 two-day.
- Tickets and more info: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.fortressfestival.com/#/