On the final night of Fader Fort, a popular unofficial pop-up venue during South by Southwest, it was hard to tell who had been there all day had who had just wandered in.
In years past, Fader Fort has been known for bringing in the big names — Drake, Amy Winehouse. But they’ve toned it down the past couple years, mainly hoping to be the spot where you discover the next Grammy winner before they make it big. (Cardi B, anyone?). Fader has done a great job in the past of bringing in talent right on the cusp of blowing up, but you might not know it if you arrive in the early evening like I did. The longest line I saw was for the bathroom.
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Sponsor Tik Tok, a sort-of replacement for Vine, had a big presence at the fort, and you could see various Tik Toks play in the background during DJ sets. (This is where I learned how jarring it is to hear “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” while a clip of a potato getting a makeover plays in the background.)
The crowd remained appreciative but lukewarm during IDK and Flipp Dinero’s sets. But once Megan Thee Stallion came out, you remembered what Fader Fort is supposed to be about as she strutted across the stage in her black cowboy hat, clearly loving being there. But the rapper was done far too soon, and everyone settled again.
Young Nudy, Friday's surprise addition, came out and did a couple songs, but the crowd just wasn’t into it. By 9:35 p.m., he was already done. No unexpected A-lister or wild appearance.
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Fader Fort 2019 ended quietly, with everyone standing around saying, “Was that really it?” as the crew started packing up equipment on stage. Regardless, I’m sure someone on this year’s lineup will be be back next SXSW at an even larger stage, big enough for people to search high and low for their spot in the crowd.