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Fortress Festival Leaves PingWi-Fi In Funk – A Good Thing

May 1st, 2017 · Tags:Arts · Cities · Music

 

The Modern

The Modern

I am not ready to claim PingWi-Fi is some sort of talisman … but, like one of my coaches used to say, “I ain’t superstitious, but I ain’t gonna take any chances.”

Ha! Did your coach say that too?

Anyway … it seems I am the bringer of good fortune, slightly removed.  Every time my college has a major sporting event concurrently as I am at a rock concert, huge things happen.  Example: unless you live in a library, you could not have missed what may have been the biggest come-from-behind, last-minute upset in the history of college football … That beautifully placed throw from Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree, vaulting the Texas Tech Red Raiders over the #2 team in the country. (Yes … a few years ago …)

Rather than attend that game, I was working at the South Padre Island International music festival, backstage and out in the crowd during Blue Oyster Cult.  Ha … 75 percent of the crowd that night were Texas Longhorns, so it was especially sweet as we all watched the concert and ducked inside a nearby cafe to check the score.

This time, I was at day two of Fort Worth’s cool new Fortress Festival when the unlikely struck.  Back in TV Land, my Red Raiders were whooping up on #5 TCU … eventually winning the series with a decisive 21-3 offensive statement. (TCU PR machine and the Fort Worth paper says TCU was #2  … Knocking off another #2 would build a case for the irony … but alas ESPN said TCU was #5 … I digress …)

So needless to say I was in a great mood at the festival and the music on Sunday just fueled that fire.  Lots of artsy, creative … perhaps crazy bands all set in Fort Worth’s Cultural District in the shadow of Will Rogers Coliseum tower with The Modern Museum of Fort Worth as well as the nearby Kimbell Art Museum providing the backdrop.

Despite snow and tornadoes ravaging the rest of Texas, Fort Worth enjoyed a cool but windy great festival day.  And for those who came to the early shows, you really couldn’t ask for a better situation.  There were enough people so that you didn’t get lonely, but not enough to cause over-crowding and traffic issues.  Did you know pleasant, user-friendly concerts like this exist?  In fact, if you tired of lounging on the grass, at The Modern stage, you could step around the corner, grab an easy chair under an umbrella … or even hit the award winning Museum Cafe for a nice meal, overlooking the activity.  Pretty cool.

 

Sudie

Sudie

During the day, I hit Sudie’s show first.  She’s a Dallas solo performer with a handful of computer tricks — sampling her own voice, looping that beautiful note, adding some bass lines and then going live with her own ethereal warblings.  Pretty interesting, multi-layered beautiful passages.

 

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Sudie … very easy on the eyes and the ears … could use a little more excitement at least for a live show … perhaps a troupe of dancers – 5 pings.

Oh … this festival was smart in staggering performers 30 minutes a part, on the two stages.  So you could catch an act, walk across the way, and catch most of the next act … and repeat.  Most shows I’ve attended don’t offer this, firing up two of my must-see bands at the same time …

 

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever

Next, I walked over to catch most of Dengue Fever’s show at The Will Rogers Stage.  How fun! This LA-based outfit is comprised of people with Cambodian, American and funk heritage.  Several years ago, I returned from Asia with a taste for some of the music of Thailand and Vietnam … but eventually tired of it … Just a bit too foreign.  But this Dengue Fever … wow … the music has Asian stylings, but also a very soulful funk and jazz foundation that speaks my lingo.  The onstage antics are also an East meets West mashup.

Dengue Portrait Best sized

Nimol

 

Diva/singer Chhom Nimol sings in a traditional Cambodian manner accompanied by her own dance moves … the delicate, dance with the hands … the graceful, elegant punctuation to whatever heartfelt points she conveyed with her words.  So interesting … made me what to shake my tail feathers and shoot way too many photos.  Nice flute and keyboards … fun guitar and a tight rhythm section …

Williams

Williams

Ha … I swear bassist Senon Williams must have grown up watching The Clash videos … strutting around the stage so reminiscent of the British bassist Paul Simonon … all bandana and sinewy biceps.  I’d have been in heaven … or in an opium cloud of bliss … if Dengue-F had covered The Clash’s “AmerAsian Blues” in Cambodian … I digress.

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Interesting to note that Dengue Fever have played most of the biggest musical festivals around the world.  Good job Fortress – 7 Pingues.

 

Dengue Fever

 

Golden Dawn Arkestra

Golden Dawn Arkestra

Back to The Modern …  This time the museum upped the ante for a mixture of performance art and zany, dance music. Golden Dawn Arkestra could lose power to their amps and it would still be worth the price of admission to watch them.  The musicians in the troupe look like they fell off a Mardi Gras float, and the dancers look like they were hatched from a disco ball and nurtured by Dr. Seuss and any one of the members of Parliament.

 

Trombonist

Arkestra Trombonist

The music: a combination platter of jazz, funk, experimental and world beat. Yes … their show brought out the tie-dye dancers, the bring-you-own colorful baton crowd and more.

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Oh and that hole thing about them claiming to worship the sun god Ra … well … we grant you a virtual get-out-of-hell-free card on account for showmanship. But one deduction for idolatry – 5 pings.

Golden Dawn Arkestra

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson

Back to Will Rogers … Next up, the more grounded Quaker City Night Hawks.  This group was much more your local cuisine for Fort Worth, I speculate.  Half the band looks chiseled from the same rock as The Allman Brothers, while other members could have fallen from the mechanical bull at Billy Bob’s world famous honky tonk.

Nice earthy, bluesy vibes coming from these guys, but I especially liked their song about tacos. How could you not!?!

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Tacos rate a 6 pinger on their own … but we awarded QCNH an extra point for a drummer who can look really cool smoking a cigarette, without missing a beat … and we actually hate cigarettes – 7 pings, perfecto.

 

 

David Matsler

David Matsler

 

Aaron Haynes

Aaron Haynes

Quaker City Night Hawks

 

Whitney

Whitney

Across the way, Whitney was playing on the reflecting pool of The Modern, ironic given their debut recording was Light Upon The Lake … or I found that interesting, anyway.  Another fun group, albeit a bit less flamboyant than their predecessor on this stage.  Another interesting thing about Whitney (not to be confused with Fort Worth’s Oh Whitney …) the seldom-seen singing drummer thing … well I say it’s rare.  How many bands besides The Carpenters had singing drummers?  The Eagles, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rare Earth, Foo Fighters … can we count Ringo? I didn’t include Phil Collins, since he wasn’t the original singer in Genesis, although he did learn to imitate Peter Gabriel really well … I digress. Oh .. very nice trumpet solos in the Whitney mix too.

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Sorry guys.  I wasn’t feeling it.  “It’s me, not you.” One ping was deducted for the hoodie … you’re better than that — 4 pings.

 

Yes … to the Will Rogers Stage — NOT … fooled you.  The PingedOne removed his photographer ear plugs and rode off to take a break for a while. Actually, I had decided to throw in the towel.  BUT … on such a beautiful, cool evening, the Fortress Festival was calling my name and I returned.  Finally, I saw some of the event’s bigger name headliners.

Just reading about Purity Ring had me intrigued and I was more interested when I sampled on-line prior to the festival.  Pretty surreal, especially after hours when the sun checked out and with the hundreds of light globes or whatever illuminating the stage.  The finale of The Will Rogers Stage lineup had a decent crowd, but nothing like the Saturday night closer.  Translation … the music was more melodic and there was more sweet harmony among the crowd and in the air (if you catch my drift) … not a pressure cooker. Glad I caught the show, but it may have lacked a bit in excitement, among all those peaceful, feel-good quirky tunes and gentle-but-majestic vocals.

Purity Ring

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Purity Ring … would probably score higher if I were.  But then again, I could stay home and listen to Flaming Lips with my own black light and get ever bit as ethereal … 4 pings.

 

Finally .. Thirty years too late, me and many in the Fortress crowd got to see Peter Hook & The Light.  Ha … I didn’t recognize the name at first.  Think Joy Division.  Think New Order.  Think of the guys who invented the return of dance with a combination of soothing almost monotone lyrics, with an over-aggressive, accelerated beat, and sophisticated sampling of synthesizers and electronic drums.

 

 

1980s baby!  Bassist, writer, vocalist Peter Hook was a founding member of those two new wave-ish legends.

 

Admission … never a huge fan of either iteration of these synth/dance gods … but I knew plenty who were.  So, Peter and friends were kind of that band to see, so you could say you had.  I saw several numbers, including the punkish encore “Warsaw.”  Peter made a comment to the audience about the unusual setting, propped up above the water, with the genius structure that is The Modern behind the band … bathed in soft, lavender light … Probably a far-cry for the sellout arenas this guy saw in his heyday.  But you know what?  He seemed to say “the hell with it” and just hammered away at the final tune … impressing everyone with his tenacity to rock the place, after decades of hard-earned hero worship.

 

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Peter & company were really tight … professional … the marks of a long, storied career and the scars to prove it — 6 pings … “how does it feel?

 

Peter Hook

Lastly … most of the bands on the bill had resumés filled with all the big named festivals.  Hopefully Fortress Festival is now a yearly event, as regular as our springtime crapshoot of a weather forecast.

Know what I sayin?