III Points Sells Out Three Full Days in Wynwood [Review]
WRITTEN BY MIGUEL TOST
Miami likes to party like no other city in the world. Between the latin clubs in South Beach or the after-hours sessions in Downtown, South Florida knows where, when, and how to get their groove on. This phenomenon could not be more true than at the fifth annual III Points Music, Arts & Technology Festival where fans of almost all genres convened to see rare musical performances and unbelievable art presentations.
With last year’s inclement weather preventing headliner LCD Soundsystem from performing for a huge turnout, it was interesting to see III Points double down and bring the Gorillaz for their first ever South Florida performance ever. At the same time, the music festival had the Mana Wynwood doors open where both music and art clashed in the massive, dark, intimate space. From the bombastic noise coming from the Mind Frame stage to the floating ambience of Brian Eno’s The Ship art installation, there was never a dull moment within the new space that incoming III Points fans could explore for the next three days.
For Friday, the music festival kicked off with main-stage performances from the soulful funkiness that is Thundercat to the abrasive nature of party-favor incarnate Danny Brown. As these two handled the Mind Melt stage, electronic musician Arca and visual artist Jesse Kanda teamed up to fuse aggressive techno with disparaging visuals before a growing crowd. Right after, 2017 breakout artist Barclay Crenshaw (a.k.a Claude VonStroke) showcased his skills in the trip-hop camp with songs like “U Are In My System” and “The Gene Sequence” from his eponymous album he dropped earlier this year. The night closed with live performances from Monolink, Richie Hawtin, and Kali Uchis as well as incredible DJ sets from Jonas Rathsman, the Black Madonna, and Unomas.
However, the owner of Friday evening went to the headlining act: the Gorillaz. Although they played nothing from their fourth album The Fall, the UK virtual band performed classics from their debut self-titled album, Demon Dayz, Plastic Beach, and their latest album Humanz. With songs like “Andromeda”, “Rhinestone Eyes”, “Last Living Souls”, and “Clint Eastwood” the performances were so electric that it made up for the fact that they didn’t play their mega-hit “Feel Good Inc.” Cuts from music videos for “Stylo”, “Saturnz Barz”, and “El Mañana” played while a choir of women harmonized over the the instrumentalists. Damon Albarn even dropped a couple of sarcastic lines about his stay and Miami and how it might influence the material he’s writing at the moment. Overall, the Gorillaz put on a spectacular show and hopefully will return to South Florida for more shows in the future.
Saturday was the busiest day with the Door IV stage hosting a six-hour, five-person back-to-back DJ set from Thunderpony, Naufer, Ms. Mada, Bakke, and Danyelino. These names owned the Door IV stage as they played classic, four-to-the-floor house music virtually all day long. Meanwhile, the rest of the event was divided by energies ranging between mellow, funky, and rowdy performances. For example, acts like Willow Smith, and Hundred Waters brought a sense of tranquility utilizing their acoustic strengths while artists like BADBADNOTGOOD and Kaytranada blended funky rhythms from hip-hop, R&B, and electronica. Meanwhile, rappers Lil B and Skepta had some of the rowdiest crowd moments commanding their respective audiences to head-bang and rock-out through each banger they performed. The night was wrapped up with sets from John Talbot, Oscar G, and Stryke into early Sunday morning.
The day’s champion set was delivered by Mark Ronson and Kevin Parker who were added during the second phase of lineup announcements. Between pop tracks like Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” and indie cuts in Parker’s work through Tame Impala like “The Less I Know the Better”, the duo overloaded the audience with the right amount of sound and style. Tracks like “HUMBLE” by Kendrick Lamar and “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West also caught fans by surprise as they gathered together to dance in the darkness of the Main Frame room. The set was a culmination of funk, hip-hop, alternative rock, and pop blending into an hour and fifteen minutes of blissful groove.
The last day bundled everything fans wanted and more from III Points into a fantastic, satisfying weekend for festival attendees. Acts like Perfume Genius and Bonobo brought dynamic dimensions that most main-stages in North America would never witness. Meanwhile, the Main Frame stage witnessed bands like Sohn and Rüfüs Du Sol and DJ sets from Lane 8 and Nicolas Jaar (who also performed live on Saturday) that took audiences on journeys into differing, sonic landscapes. The White Dragon room packed over eleven names (including Phantasman, Get Face, and Mr. Alexis) with each getting set times between thirty to forty minutes, while maintaining the focus on house music. With an early curfew for the last day, acts like DJ Earl, Telescope Thieves, and Will Renuart brought an end to one of Miami’s best weekends.
It’s obvious that the xx were going to be one of the most anticipated bands to see at III Points (behind the Gorillaz), and they owned Sunday’s top spot as the best performance. Oliver Sims, Romy Madley Croft, and Jamie xx ruled the Mind Melt stage and all of the festival as fans lined up and crowded together to hear songs like “Replica” and “A Violent Noise” from their latest album I See You to “Islands” and “Crystalized” from their debut album xx. They closed with “Angels” from their second album Coexist as the crowd swayed in somber joy, the likes of which few bands like the xx can do. It was truly a sight to behold as mirrors reflected lights from the stage over the hundreds of people smiling to be there and lost in the melancholy love songs they came to hear.
All in all, III Points was a phenomenal success that was able to do what they do best: bridging genres and audiences into one versatile venue. From Pumarosa, Mild High Club, Atomyard, and everything in between, III Points has constructed an event that caters to industry socialites and music geeks. It’s not another EDM festival nor is it trying to be a catch-all-trendy artists-Coachella weekend. By bringing artistic visions to life on stage and around the festival grounds, the event felt vibrant, chic, and unique at all times. The five varying stages, the food trucks, and VIP section were divided and positioned well for a weekend of enjoying the best musical exports and Miami’s hottest talents. In other words, I’ll be anxiously anticipating the 2018 lineup to make sure that I don’t miss next year’s III Points.