Music Festival Travel Journal — Fortress Festival 2017

Fortress Festival music festival travel journal

FORTRESS FESTIVAL (FORT WORTH, TEX.)

SATURDAY, APR. 29

Relaxing into #musicfestival season like… #fortressfest #fortressfestival #fortworth #summerofmarkreloaded

A post shared by Mark Ortega (@markeortega) on

Word to the wise — never fly early in the morning hungover. I decided to throw a party at my house the day before I left Los Angeles for basically two months on this music festival trip. I rented a bounce house boxing ring and had a bunch of friends over, a bunch of beer and liquor, and we threw down pretty good. I also fucked up and my alarm didn’t go off when it was supposed to, and I basically had to rush to the airport, leaving some of the mess from the party in the backyard like a terrible roommate. I owe dinner upon my return clearly.

Either way, I was immediately punished by sitting in the middle seat of this Spirit Airlines flight where one of the guys kept trying to nab the armrest, clearly not understanding that middle seat gets both armrests, dude (see: this scene from the cancelled FX series Legit). I landed around 2 PM and thought I was going to have to rush to make it to Fortress Fest without missing some early acts, but the worry of a major storm caused them to delay the start until 5 PM. So I actually got into my airbnb with enough time to watch the heavyweight boxing championship fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, which was one of the best heavyweight title fights in recent memory.

I packed up my backpack and headed to the festival around 5:30 PM. I packed a warm long-sleeve shirt but it still wasn’t really enough for how fucking cold it was in Fort Worth, which I wasn’t really expecting. It was incredibly windy. You can check out my recap of the festival here. Run the Jewels were fucking killer and Flying Lotus delivered a really trippy set.

I have a disgusting addiction to concert posters — you’d know this if you’ve ever been over my house and have seen the walls of our hallway going upstairs. The Socal-based Garageland had a special Run the Jewels print for Fortress Fest and had the rap duo there for a signing before they went on stage.

I met a couple of people waiting in line for the signing, two of the girls were from Houston and the other was a couple from around locally. They were very interesting characters, and within about 10 minutes of talking to them I got the sense they were tripping on something.

“Are you guys tripping?” I asked. “Yeah — you want some?” one of the girls answered. I took a hard pass, but how nice of them to offer within maybe 10 minutes of meeting me. Both girls seemed pretty hardcore fans of Run the Jewels and Purity Ring, meaning this festival was perfect for them as they were the headliners. As I got to the front of the line, I asked RTJ if they were going to be headlining Fyre Fest in 2018, and El-P laughed and joked they were talking to Ja Rule about it. If you’ve been living under a rock, Fyre Fest was the catastrophic Ja Rule-created fest that was supposed to happen in the Bahamas but instead was like Lord of the Flies for rich millennials. I told Killer Mike this was my ninth time seeing Run the Jewels live, and he told me when I’m ready for No. 10 to let him know and he’ll hook me up, what a guy!

Got right near the rail for Run the Jewels and then headed back to the airbnb and crashed after a looong day.

SUNDAY, APR. 30

Woke up feeling a little bit better after some decent rest. I got to Fortress Fest on day two right around the time the first act was playing at 3 PM. Ate some pretty solid food and caught up with the girls I met the previous day. It was awesome seeing Canadian lo-fi power pop group Alvvays play, even though they seemed a bit ruffled by a delayed flight causing them to get into the fest about an hour before their set time.

They were playing the Modern Stage, which was a stage built on top of this weird man-made pool or lake or something behind the Modern Museum (see photo below). Technical difficulties plagued the first song of their set but after that it was smooth sailing. They played a ton of new material which I expect to be on their new record that should be out sometime this year and it all sounded really good. It was my eighth time seeing them live and they were dope.

I ran over and caught the last half hour of Slowdive, who always have me swimming in my feels. The reason I skipped on half their set in favor of Alvvays was because I’m seeing Slowdive play a Shaky Knees kickoff show Thursday night before the fest in Atlanta in a few weeks. After they finished their set we got to be up front for Purity Ring, who said it was going to be their only show of the year as they go work on new music. It was a solid set, not quite as hyped as Run the Jewels, but their light show was mesmerizing.

Afterwards, I went through a bit of an ordeal with Ubers. I had an Uber pick me up at a nearby McDonalds so it could take me through the drive-thru…only to find the drive-thru was closed and it was barely 11 PM. So the driver was near where my airbnb before he saw a Jack In The Box, so we stopped in that drive-thru line, only for me to change my mind and have him drop me off at a Whataburger. The Whataburger dining room was closed, so I had to order ANOTHER Uber to pick me up and take me through the drive-thru.

Then I finally got food, got dropped off at my airbnb, and immediately realized I forgot my phone. So I had to Facebook message my friend Connie to use her number to be my point person with the Uber driver, and he came by about an hour later at 12:45 AM to drop off my phone, and I slipped him 20 bucks. It was nearly a nightmare scenario as my Megabus was leaving at 7:51 AM the next morning from Dallas.

I woke up, packed my shit, took a $40 Uber to where the Megabus picked up in Dallas — only for it to be an hour delayed. Finally I got on the bus at 8:30 AM, and had the misfortune of sitting next to some dude who was EATING HARD-BOILED EGGS ON THE FUCKING BUS LIKE A PSYCHOPATH. Luckily I hadn’t drank alcohol all weekend or the combination of a hangover and that smell would have made me vomit.

Four hours I arrived in Houston and my brother-in-law Tony picked me up, and I’m writing this journal entry from his office. I get to hang with my sister and nieces and nephew and stepmom and bro-in-law for the next few days before the inaugural Middlelands takes place about an hour away. Should be fun!

COACHELLA WEEKEND TWO RECAP (INDIO, CALIF.)

COACHELLA WEEKEND ONE RECAP (INDIO, CALIF.)