“I really thought this festival wasn’t going to happen” DIIV frontman Zachary Cole said in between songs during his band’s dusk performance on III Point’s main stage, which overlooked the Miami skyline. This sentiment was shared by a majority of the fourth edition of Miami’s III Points music festival, which went on as planned despite a Hurricane passing through the state of Florida in the days leading up to and during the festival.
During the week leading up to III Points it seemed like a cancellation was coming at any minute. Millions of Florida residents were facing mandatory evacuations from their home, and those who did stay boarded up their homes preparing for the worst. Even though the thought of a music festival happening in these conditions seems implausible. III Points defied the odds and took Miami by storm.
Upon entry to the festival grounds, it was easy to see why the organizers of III Points were so eager for the show to go on. The main entrance featured an art instillation of shipping containers designed by Jeffery Barone of Bonafide design. Each container featured activation’s from different sponsors. The rest of the grounds were not lacking in the visual arts, the main stage area included a NASA-backed virtual reality, multi-sensory rendition of Mars.
As always, the III Points lineup generally caters to electronic music and hip-hop, but there was enough representation from every genre to keep it from being a genre-specific festival. I was giddy as a school girl when the lineup came out and I saw one of the most elusive bands for me to see, Thee Oh Sees, was on the lineup.
The first day of III Points had an unavoidable sense of disappointment. The festival announced the cancellation of LCD Soundsystem, III Point’s main headliner, less than 24 hours before the show. In between performances on the first day of the festival fans shared their stories of finding ways to avoid Hurricane Matthew to see the band. Hell I added an extra three hours to my drive so I could leave a day early and ensure myself a chance to see them. It didn’t help that the festival seemed incomplete with the no shows being played on the outdoor stage, an incomplete schedule and the VIP area being unfinished. All of the negatives aside, the first night of the festival was filled with enough good music to make an entertaining night. English DJ Sophie played a set that ranged from experimental to big room hip-hop songs. Chrome Sparks and Vince Staples had their set times switched due to an issue of getting Vince to the festival. Chrome Sparks brought enough energy that those who walked up to the stage expecting to see Vince Staples hung around. When Vince finally got to the stage people were ready to party. The first mosh pit of the weekend broke out during Staples’ first song and it lasted through his entire set.
By the time the gates opened on Saturday the video of Donald Trump openly endorsing sexually assaulting women had been public for almost 24 hours, and it didn’t take long for both attendees and performers voice their opinions on the matter. A mural of a woman was placed along the wall of a festival stage with the message “I grab my own pussy” painted across the top. Natalia Clavier of Thievery Corporation ended the bands set by screaming “Fuck Donald Trump” into the microphone and Zachary Coleman of DIIV offered a facetious take on the comments as stage banter.
The mood surrounding day two was much more optimistic the first day. The few areas of the grounds that hadn’t been set up on time were completed, which combined with a night of energetic performances from across the musical spectrum, captured the true magic of the festival.
The climax of the second day came during Thee Oh Sees performance. It is impossible to put into words how much energy Thee Oh Sees play with. Despite their set beginning at 1 a.m., hundreds of people gathered at the festival’s smallest stage to watch the band shred. Thee Oh Sees live show consist of four instruments, a guitar, a bass and two drum kits. The band played their songs with such intensity and passion that an hour long mosh pit took place in the crowd. John Dwyer was born to make rock ‘n’ roll.
Sunday was my most anticipated day coming into the festival. The main stage had a lineup consisting of Earl Sweatshirt, Flying Lotus, Machinedrum, Andy Stott and DJ Koze playing consecutive sets. The night got off to an unfortunate start with the announcement that Earl Sweatshirt had to cancel and was replaced with Miami rapper Trick Daddy. A set that was supposed to from a talented-rapper with some of the most creative wordplay in hip hop was replaced with an old man and his even older hype-man sing other people’s songs. It was a disappointment to say the least. My disappointment didn’t last long when Trick Daddy left the stage after only 25 minutes and Flying Lotus would be starting early.
Having already seen Flying Lotus twice and both shows were relatively similar, I thought would be seeing the same show for a third time. About two minutes into his set I knew this one would be different. Shying away from a set filled with performances of his own material, FlyLo played a DJ set, remixing songs and playing dancy instrumentals that he had on him. Halfway through the set FlyLo brought Denzel Curry on stage. “Give me something hard,” Curry said and FlyLo obliged.
At the end of the day the risky decision to hold the festival despite concerns for the storm paid off. With a reported 25,000 people in attendance over the three days, the festival managed to put on a great festival at every level. You have to look very hard to find a festival that dedicates as much resources to technology and art than III Points does.
Check out our full album of photos from Miami’s III Points 2016 below.