Future Neo-Noir: Three Miami Nights of III Points 2017
In typical Florida fashion, there was very little that could be considered "normal" at Miami's preeminent arts and music fest.
Nestled in the heart of the city of Miami sits Wynwood, an arts district featuring eateries, boutiques, and elaborately graffitied walls. A far cry from the typical white-sand and all-night-party image associated with Miami, it was here that III Points, born in 2013, made its presence felt.
With the majority of other festivals opting to be part of the summer experience, III Points exists in a special vacuum that allows them to be more creative with its scheduling. There are only so many variations that can exist when the same artists are touring or promoting releases, and so lineups start to blend and mirror.
While boasting three unique headliners (out of Gorillaz, Nicholas Jaar and The xx, only the third had played a festival over the summer), the festival also showcased a variety of local talent, not only on the stage but around the festival. Interactive art pieces and galleries set the aesthetic and tone for the festival, effectively using the modernism of the art to elicit a futuristic vibe.
Everything kicked off each night at 5 p.m., shielding its participants from the grueling Florida heat while also embracing the 24/7 lifestyle that accompanies being in South Beach. The grounds themselves were small enough to be navigable, but expansive enough that there was always a new area to explore and investigate. For a festival to curate an immersive experience without the added help of its attendees physically staying each night is a difficult task, but III Points’ embrace of the area’s art went a long way in doing so.
The tone for the weekend was solidified by Friday night’s Gorillaz performance, the virtual band’s first ever in the Sunshine State. Buoyed by Damon Albarn’s mastery of several instruments, songs from each of the Gorillaz’s four albums were presented to the masses, who alternated between dance and trance as the set flew from party to narrative-centered visuals. At various points, Albarn’s avatars became the main focus onstage as they acted out and sang along to lyrics as if they were the ones truly performing them.
Jaar, who was twice late for performances (he had a DJ set to close out the festival), followed up the next night with his own unique brand of intense experimental music. Harsh sounds interspersed with moments of ambience and musical clarity filled the night, ringing out loud enough that sitting in the very back of the festival offered the same level of volume that one would expect from being up on the barrier.
At risk of dismissing the newly-added and spectacular Mind Melt headlining stage, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the festival was its inside area, home to its Main Frame stage as well as the majority of its hosted art. It was here that creative audio visionary Brian Eno’s installation, The Ship, was placed, and here that some of the festival’s more energetic acts inspired dance and grooves.
Lil B, of notorious Internet fame, performed only his sixth show in the last two years at Main Frame to a rambunctious crowd eager to bear witness to a performance that was, to use a term from the rapper himself, rare. An initial warm-up period consisting of songs from his latest mixtape Black Ken, his forty-ninth release, Lil B then began running through tracks that had become synonymous with his brand. A mosh pit formed during “Like a Martian” and didn’t dissipate until the very end of his show, expanding in size and engulfing more participants with each song. The energy might not have been topped during the entirety of the weekend.
It was there that the essence of III Points was truly felt, that the careful planning that went into scheduling and arrangement began to come together. It’s easy for the masses to enjoy a popular artist or shuffle in the corner as a bassline pounds down on them, but to truly invoke passion into a crowd and be the catalyst for passion requires something special. FL