Fortezza: Fresh faces from Winston-Salem
By: Katei Cranford
Monstercade is hosting a sick show full of fresh faces with Fortezza, It’s Snakes, and Bangzz on Aug. 31.
Featuring three choice acts from various North Carolina music scenes and generations, the lineup highlights how the Winston weirdo bar continues establishing itself as a conduit for grooming growing bands and anchoring solid acts from neighboring music communities.
Fortezza, the evening’s headliners, a fresh-faced, fuzzed-out, stoner-psych trio from Winston-Salem, understand the importance of community and cohesion for healthy music scenes.
“Everyone is so supportive,” bassist Maddie Kendrick said of her hometown. “We all just want to see each other succeed and there’s something really special about that.”
Drummer, Matty Garau, shares a jazz background with Kendrick, who’s presently studying bass at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The group is rounded by Tristan Smith and his “unpredictable riffage” on guitar.
“We’ve been called three jazz musicians who want to be Black Sabbath a few times,” Kendrick quipped.
Like any good classic, the Sabbath hat tip rings clear. Likewise, the trio lends nods to the Oh Sees, Ty Segall, or King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. It shows in their sound: both slick and spacey.
“Jazz and psych kinda go hand in hand in terms of experimentalism,” Kendrick said of the genre bleed-over often seen these days across record labels like Burger or Goner; and festival bills from The Reverberation Appreciation Society.
“Psych music is all about getting weird with it, same as jazz,” Smith added. “The avant-garde has had a huge influence on the way we play.”
Fortezza recently played with Lacy Jags, from Chapel Hill, whom Kendrick called “killer.” They could easily fall in line with Asheville garage-psychsters, the Tills, or the former-Boone kids in the Nude Party.
Their latest release, Beyond the Wall, was recorded by Rebecca Mueller at the famed Fidelitorium Recordings in Kernersville earlier this year.
“They came. They conquered. They are so full of radness,” Mueller said on Facebook. “It was a pleasure to have this NC trio out to the studio to cut a few tracks. Keep your eyes peeled for new singles from these visionaries.”
The compliment carries weight. Mueller, aka “Missy Thangs,” is a force. Both in the studio, and on stage, as the synth-wizard in Birds of Avalon and No One Mind.
“Missy is the coolest,” Smith said. “She always knows exactly how to spice up a song and how to hype up a crew. On top of that, she’s insane behind a mixing console.”
As Fortezza’s records progress, so do they as a unit. “We got more comfortable with writing, but the most important thing was getting more comfortable with each other. And having a connection,” Kendrick insisted.
“We grew together as musicians. That was a big part of how our sound developed,” she added.
While Smith sees freedom for development in recording, he adores playing live. Kendrick agrees. For her, playing live brings “a really special energy there that you just can’t replicate in a studio.”
Typically gigging around Winston, Fortezza came to Greensboro by way of a WUAG Presents series show back in March, with an appearance scheduled for a September episode of the station’s “Radio Greensboro” program.
Most immediately on their horizon is the Monstercade show. “We’ve never had the opportunity to play with either It’s Snakes or Bangzz before, but it’s awesome to be on such a great bill,” Kendrick said.
The bill is pretty stacked.
Bangzz is a solid pair in the Triangle music scene. Feminist garage-punks and “feral women,” Blair Coppage and Erika Libero, play a strong-hand in why that particular neck of North Carolina is making waves. Fresh from a Northeast tour, they’re also playing the Hopscotch Music Festival; and are a top North Carolina band to follow.
It’s Snakes, from Charlotte, are the modern incarnation from the infamous 1980s indie group Fetchin’ Bones. It’s a little bit rock’n’roll; it’s a little bit funky. Comprised of married-couple Hope Nicholls and Aaron Pitkin, It’s Snakes prove punk rock love is real (and wild).
“Monstercade got voted the [Most Original and Unique] bar in the Triad for a reason,” Kendrick said of the venue. “We’re beyond stoked.”
Katei Cranford is a GSO rock-n-roller and Triad music nerd. She hosts Mostly Local Monday, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands playing NC the following week. Catch her on WUAG 103.1FM or via live stream at www.wuag.net.