By Eric Griffey
During the build-up to the Fortress Fest lineup announcement, the festival’s organizers decided to let the people book the last act for the third iteration of Fort Worth’s biggest and most acclaimed music festival. Dozens of bands entered the crowd-sourced contest, but Fort Worth-based angst-pop quintet Meach Pango emerged as the winner.
Fortress will carry on its tradition of including local acts to round out the bill, but this year the lineup feels extra local thanks to the inclusion of Fort Worth’s own Leon Bridges, who will headline the two-day event’s final day. Other North Texas acts that will perform include Fort Worth psych-pop quartet The Cush, Dallas rapper Cardiac the Ghost, Dallas indie modsters Luna Luna, Dallas-based futuristic R&B duo Medicine Man Revival, Def Jam artist and Pleasant Grove native Bobby Sessions, Fort Worth outlaw country throwback Red Shahan, Funkytown rapper Solar Slim, and Big D rapper Adrian Stresow.
For Meach Pango, comprised of guitarist Anthony Coffman, drummer Clayton Gaskamp, singer Alex Mackenzie, guitar/trombonist Jared Loftis, and bassist Jorge Marquez, sharing a bill with international and local luminaries is a huge break. Mackenzie answered some questions about appearing at the festival, background on the band, and what’s next for his high-energy, up-and-coming act.
I Love Fort Worth: How long have you been a band?
Alex Mackenzie: We started playing covers with a keyboard player in 2014 under the moniker, The Influence. In 2016, our keyboard player left for college and we added Jared [Marquez] to the group. Shortly after we changed our name to Meach Pango and started playing covers only from there.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you play?
A throwback to the late ’90s, early 2000s alt-rock. Very pop-inspired, angst-ridden, heartfelt rock ’n’ roll. Party tunes for sure.
How did you come about landing the Fortress Fest gig? We’re you surprised?
We saw the contest posted in early December. Once we submitted, we had a steady climb up to the top and fluctuated within the top 10 for the next few months. We found out when they posted the daily lineup. I was at work, checked my Instagram and saw our name. I’m pretty sure I said, “Holy Shit” in the middle of my store with customers around. Nobody warned us, we just found out. Very surprised.
When and on what stage are you performing? How long is your set?
We are playing the Dickies Main Stage at 1:30pm on Sunday with a 30-minute set. We kick off day 2!
Have you played other music festivals? If so, how does this compare?
We’ve never played a festival before. A bit overwhelming but incredibly exciting.
Are you planning anything special for this set? Is the sort of set that makes you want to practice a little more than usual?
We’ve been playing songs off our upcoming album for a while now. We may or may not be debuting a new one there.
What are your expectations for what a gig like this could do for your band? What are you hoping to achieve?
The same thing we want to achieve at every gig: grab people’s attention and don’t let go until we walk off stage. If we can make 10 new people feel something from our music, then it’ll be a job well done for us.
What are you imagining the backstage scene being like? Who are you excited to potentially meet?
I’d imagine it would be pretty chill. A few people we know played last year and said it was a blast hanging with the big acts. We’ve bumped into Leon a few times around town. It would be cool if he recognized us.
What’s next for you guys? Do you plan on gigging locally more? Touring? Recording? Shooting a video?
Our next record will be out this summer. Working on some promotional stuff for that, videos, release party, all that jazz. Touring is something we’ve always wanted to do, definitely see that becoming a thing in the future.