You know a festival was awesome when it’s over and you wake up with shin splints (or, you know, you’re out of shape). Honestly, I did not expect to go as hard as I did at III Points, considering the fact that the festival was marketed as particularly artsy and the headliners were Nicholas Jaar and Panda Bear -- two talented individuals known for their heady, experimental sounds -- but there was a techno/tech-house stage, and it packed a punch.
Out of the five stages, I pretty much spent the entire time in the Black Hole (the aforementioned techno/tech-house stage) which was consistently popping. The set-up was old school: big warehouse, monster sound system, minimal lighting; Seth Troxler would’ve been proud. On one side of the warehouse there was an art display in the form of stacked rear projection TVs with various colors and static on each one, resulting in a truly impressive visual. When I arrived, Ms Mada just got on the decks and she kept me at that stage for her whole set and left me so hyped that I had forgotten there were other stages until halfway through Thunderpony’s set, at which point I turned to my friend and trusty photographer, Richie Lawrence of Tropicult and suggested that we take a breather outside.
We went and sat on the benches adjacent to one of the outdoor stages, Sector 3 -- the beat/hip-hop stage, and enjoyed some smooth beats from Miami’s Montuori while we sipped on Evian and relished the cool Autumn air. From that point forward, Sector 3 would be the stage where we would chill out and take a break from the relentless techno kick-drums of the Black Hole.
After eating and drinking, we decided to head on over to the Main Frame (you guessed it, this was the main stage!) to catch Bonobo’s DJ set. Walking through the first set of double doors to get to the stage, we saw one of the performance artists that were scattered throughout the festival. There were two men dressed as scientists sitting amongst a litter of laptops, megaphones, flashlights, speakers, and redbull cans -- as well as other items that were indiscernible in that lighting and/or state of mind -- crouched in what looked like a crate for a Great Dane. When you would bang on the cage, these unnerving sounds would pour out of the speakers and one of the captive scientists would hit you with the spotlight. This was a truly interesting spectacle to take in and with each day that passed, more and more people began to feel comfortable engaging with the art. At one point the cage was being banged on as if it were Mugatu’s computer from Zoolander.
Passing that, we walked down a hallway illuminated by strobing tube lights with a magical LED pyramid sitting at the end. Once you reached the pyramid, you turned right and there was the main stage dancefloor. We had hardly made it to the pyramid when we got punched in the face by hot and humid air, it had to be 120 degrees. Something was wrong with the ventilation and AC, it rendered that room virtually uninhabitable. People would flow in and out for a couple minutes at a time if they were dying to see someone special, but even then, the headliners were ostensibly playing to no one.
If I am going to be entirely honest with you, I didn’t really mind. Sure, I missed most of Bonobo and Nicholas Jaar, but I just went right back to the Black Hole and got down to a killer set from DJ Tennis. His set was so large, that he ended up showing up Mano Le Tough, the man who kept me from calling day one early. It’s not like Mano threw down a disappointing set, it’s just that after the relentless, high energy set by DJ Tennis, Mano’s tendency of creating his own breakdowns via cutting off the low-end and letting the mash-up build for a minute and a half wasn’t cutting it. Personally, I feel like the lineup would have been more effective had they switched slots.
I ultimately ended up leaving the Black Hole during Mano’s set and went over to the Mind Melt stage -- the live music stage -- to catch the rest of Neon Indian’s live set. This outdoor stage featured the most complex lighting rig of the festival which was probably the reason why it was named what it was. Neon Indian’s set was a fun, calm way to end a great day one.
I was amped for day two, I woke up Saturday morning ready to go! That was the day I had circled the most names on the line-up as can’t miss sets, and to my horror, there was a decent amount of overlap! How could they expect me to pick between Jacques Greene and Ghostface Killah? or TEED and Danny Daze? I knew I would be running around a lot that day.
I started the day at the Main Frame where AlunaGeorge was about to take the stage. I was worried that I was going to have a heat stroke during her set, but after I took my last breath of fresh air and braced myself for the oven I was about to enter I noticed that it was actually quite cool in there. “They fixed the AC! Awesome. Now I get to truly enjoy this performance, let’s see what AlunaGeorge is all about." She rocked it. She is a diva, I have to say. With the audience in the palm of her hand, she strutted the stage and delivered flawless renditions of her entire catalog, each song earning a bigger reaction than the last. She is a performer through and through, I was very impressed. The twenty minute intermission was enough time for me to grab a drink, go have a smoke, and come back with a clean slate so that I could enjoy the bass music stylings of Shlohmo. This was indeed a drastic change of pace, which is why I was actually thankful for the seemingly long intermission.
After Shlohmo I left, got some food, and arrived back just in time for Jacques Greene in the Black Hole. I am so glad that I did, his set was the set of the festival. He had me hooting and hollering while burning holes in the soles of my shoes. I placed myself right in front of the speaker stack and gigged for an hour straight only to be reminded by my friend that Ghostface Killah and MF Doom just went on stage, so I reluctantly went over to the Main Frame. Once I got over there, I saw that it was not, in fact, Ghostface Killah and MF Doom performing together. No. It was a video performance by MF Doom. It was a big room of people watching MF Doom on TV. It took me one minute to say “Dude, screw this” and we went back to the Black Hole.
Once Jacques finished his set and I realized that my religious moment was over, I killed some time by wandering around the outside stages, smoking a few cigarettes and having a drink or two until it was time for Totally Extinct Enormous Dinosaurs (TEED) to take the stage in the Main Frame. I headed over there and enjoyed a funky, trippy, bass heavy house set that was saturated in TEED’s signature sound. Of course, during all of that I run into Raoul Duke, a WTF moment for the ages. With 30 minutes left in day two, I decided to visit the Black Hole one more time and catch the rest of Danny Daze’s set. As always, he did not disappoint. He was dropping heavy, stomp-your-feet techno, and I ate it up. His set ended, the music throughout Mana all cut and there was silence. Actually, there was a lot of noise, people talking, feet shuffling around, security guards herding people to the exit, but I couldn’t hear any of it over the ringing of my ears. And since I couldn’t feel a bass-line rattling my chest, it felt like silence. I sauntered back to my car with post-orgasmic contentment, sat in the driver’s seat in actual silence, and drove home to get ready for day three.
The last day of the festival was a much more low-key affair, let me put it this way: it felt like a Sunday. Most of the artists on the lineup were Miami locals who I had seen perform at their various residencies throughout the city. Soul Clap gave an amazing performance, and so did Wolf + Lamb, but their vibe was much deeper and laid back than the stand out sets of the previous two days. It was the perfect way to round out a perfect weekend. III Points festival aimed to achieve an atmosphere of intimacy that balanced big budget effects with artistic integrity and class, as far as I am concerned, it was a smashing success. I don’t think anyone could have done it better.
I am definitely looking forward to next year.