The Fader Fort, one of the most popular events in Austin, Texas each year during the annual SXSW conference and festival each March, today announced that Young M.A., Cardi B, Downtown Boys, Lizzo, Kap G, Dams of the West and Bishop Briggs will be on the lineup as part of the first announced acts for the Fort's 16th year. But for the first time since 2008, the marquee event won't be held in the dusty field just east of highway 35 where it's been located for the past seven years, but is moving to a new spot around the corner for its 2017 edition.
The new location, at 1209 E. 6th St., will be a smaller venue which the founders say will return the annual four-day show -- taking place from March 15-18 this year -- to its roots as a more intimate experience, grounded in a dedication to being a welcoming locale for artists and fans alike.
"We have a great history in Austin, and unfortunately as the success of the Fort [has grown], so has the success of Austin from a market standpoint, and now [the previous location is] being developed into a mixed use space," Jon Cohen, co-Founder of the Fader and the Fader record label and co-CEO of Fader's sister agency Cornerstone, tells Billboard. "The mission of the Fort is really to connect those fans and people that love music and love Fader with the artists that we cover. So when we say intimate, it's gonna give you that feel, enable you to be right in there with the artists while they're performing."
Since its inception in 2001, the Fader Fort has built a reputation for both providing a platform for rising, as-yet-unheralded artists and showcasing high-profile headliners with surprise guests and superstar-laden moments, all with an eclectic mix of genres. Last year, for instance, the Fort balanced headlining slots from Metro Boomin, Kacey Musgraves, 2 Chainz and Yo Gotti with sets from younger artists like Gallant, Jazz Cartier, Stormzy and Bibi Bourelly -- and all those performances came before the surprise, Fort-closing showpiece from Drake and his OVO crew. Prior years have seen the likes of Kanye West, Damon Albarn and Erykah Badu either headline or play surprise pop-up sets across its four days.
"It starts with the coverage: if it's something that we're interested in and something that our editorial team has been looking at or covering, artists that are looking at us -- that's really the foundation of it, there has to be a real relationship," says Rob Stone, who runs Fader, the Fader label and Cornerstone, which he founded, alongside Cohen, about choosing the artists for the lineup. "We're never putting an artist on stage for the wow factor, it really is an honest place of music that our staff and team likes and loves."
The Fort also brought back several sponsors that it has worked with in the past, including Toyota, Budweiser, Jack Daniel's, MyMusicRX and vitaminwater, as well as Dream Hotels and the North Face. Each will be contributing either products or experiences to the Fort, while Toyota will make a $25,000 donation to MyMusicRX, which is part of the Children's Cancer Association and will host a family-friendly show for kids in association with the Fort for the fifth straight year.
"The Fader Fort always brings the mission of the Fader to life, showcasing the emerging artists we champion and the lifestyle that surrounds it," said Andy Cohn, president/publisher of the Fader, in a statement. "With our new location this year, which offers the same incomparable spirit of authenticity and discovery of previous Fader Forts, we're able to give our longtime supporters unparalleled access to artists and creators, resembling the original, intimate feel of The Fader Fort that is almost impossible to find anywhere else."
Performances, interviews and daily video recaps hosted by comedian Zack Fox will be live streamed and hosted on the Fader's web site throughout the week of the event. This year, the Fort will be guest list only for the second year in a row, with no public RSVP.
"You get kind of comfortable being in the same spot for seven years, even though we always try to push the edge of what we can do," Stone says about this year's edition. "And moving to the new space is really reinvigorating us and we're putting a lot of excitement and energy into how we can make it great."