Fortress Presents is helping Fort Worth hear new sounds

Rapper Benny the Butcher, wearing a red shirt, faces the camera and is holding up his gold chains

Rapper Benny the Butcher Photo: Fortress Presents

When Buffalo-based rapper Benny the Butcher takes the stage Saturday at Fort Worth’s Wild Acre Live, it will be the latest step towards further expanding the musical palette of the 12th largest city in the United States.

Fort Worth event promotion and production company Fortress Presents is bringing Benny the Butcher to town, as part of its role in booking Wild Acre Live. (Wild Acre Live, which opened its doors in July, is a mid-size venue, holding a max capacity of around 6,000, and is the sort of transitional-sized space Fort Worth’s music ecosystem badly needs.)

Fortress Presents has made a big splash in a short time: Co-founders Alec Jhangiani and Ramtin Nikzad launched the Fortress Festival in the city’s Cultural District in 2017, bringing headliners Run the Jewels and Purity Ring to the grounds of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Will Rogers Memorial Center.

After three successful and increasingly acclaimed outings, the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined the 2020 edition, although there are currently plans to revive Fortress Festival in 2022.

In between wrangling an annual two-day festival, Fortress Presents has turned its attention to keeping other stages throughout the city vibrant. Jhangiani says concerts like Saturday’s hip-hop bill (Lou CharLe$ will open) are part of an overall vision for Fort Worth’s cultural future.

“Historically, if you look at the music programming in Fort Worth, it’s primarily a few genres that are all pretty closely related — rock/country/roots music,” he wrote via email. “We love all those genres and also feel that, in a city as large and culturally relevant as ours, we should really have just about everything. Especially major genres like hip-hop. … I think when a city attracts a constant flow of diverse and highly relevant live music at all levels, it’s a major factor in the quality of life for people who live and work there.”

There’s another benefit to Fortress Presents having access to the Wild Acre Live stage — it allows the company to build a foundation which could ultimately strengthen the Fortress Festival itself.

“It will actually allow us to be more specific with what we book at the festival,” Jhangiani wrote. “Previously, when the festival was basically our only platform, we had to try to appeal to a wider audience. Now, we can appeal to a very wide audience throughout the year, and that pressure isn’t on any one event. We’re still dialing in exactly what that means for the festival.”

As for the 2022 installment of Fortress Festival, Jhangiani demurs — “I can’t share details about the festival quite yet,” he wrote — but does allow there should be “a lot of announcements in the new year.”

Until then, Fortress Presents will keep working to expand the sonic boundaries of the city where the West begins.

NOTE: This post has been updated to correct the capacity of Wild Acre Live, which is 6,000.

Preston Jones is a freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. 

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