After a 16-month hiatus, it was fair to wonder what exactly III Points Music Festival would deliver in its return to the festival circuit. While ULTRA and Rapture were busy across town fighting over Virginia Key Beach, the grassroots festival was focused on transforming the Mana Wynwood Convention Center into an artist’s haven.
Each day of the festival started and ended the same way, with a walk through Erica Bernhard’s captivating light display, TIDES. The walkway flashed and flickered in a way that mimicked a portal. On one side was the real world and all the problems that come with it. On the other side was an artist’s playground where all were welcome to express themselves freely.
The festival community is widely known for being accepting and open to everyone, but not many festivals can boast the level of diversity that III Points showed in its lineup. The festival did an amazing job balancing the seasoned production of its headliners with the raw talent and artistry that flooded the undercard. The artists featured on the lineup were truly artists in every sense of the word. Hip-hop, R&B, and Rock music were all well represented and acts from all across the spectrum of electronic music satisfied the core fanbase of the Miami music scene.
Beach House- Beach House really set the tone for the weekend with a dreamy welcome on the MindMelt stage. As I rounded the corner and approached the stage, it was hard to not feel at ease.
Paperwater- This DJ duo was backed by a live band and singer. Their groovy set on the Sector 3 stage was too good to pass up. Thankfully the Weedmaps bus wasn’t far away and offered a comfortable space to sit and enjoy the vibes.
JPEG Mafia- The Baltimore rapper/producer was nothing short of captivating. The crowd raged in awe as he violently expressed the emotion of every single lyric, thrashing and screaming throughout the set.
Pussy Riot- I’ll be the first to admit, seeing Pussy Riot felt like the “artsy” thing to do. The politically charged band, best known for their protests of Vladimir Putin and the Russian government, drew a large crowd, likely filled with many others just like me. The performance was interesting to say the least, as roughly 10 women in ski masks prowled the stage to surprisingly upbeat songs.
Tyler the Creator- Tyler’s loyal fanbase is what makes his performances work so well. Their energy is infectious and once you’re in the crowd, you better buckle up.
Virtual Self- A perfect end to the night and everything I expected it to be. When he dropped Ghost Voices only seven minutes into the show, I knew he had come fully prepared to throw down.
Herbie Hancock- When you hear pure musicianship, there’s nothing to do but appreciate it. The American pianist led an incredible live band that included hall of fame drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta, former SNL bassist, James Genus, and To Pimp A Butterfly producer, Terrace Martin on saxophone.
Plastic Pinks- Hard rock at its finest. The band looked and sounded like they had just come from the garage. It was everything you could want from a rock show.
Raekwon and Ghostface Killah- In a time where pure rap and boom bap sound is harder and harder to find, Raekwon and Ghostface reminded Miami what classic hip-hop sounds like. Wu Tang is still for the children.
SZA- If Top Dawg Entertainment does one thing consistently, it’s taking their time to develop their artists. SZA still has room to grow, but the performance she gave on Saturday proved that she is already a powerhouse talent. To the surprise of many, she made it feel like 1997 again as she covered “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer.
James Murphy (DJ Set)- The LCD Soundsystem frontman is a known crate digger and it showed in his performance. Sounds and samples from so many different genres were mixed to keep the crowd up and on the their feet through the late night.
Blood Orange- Blood Orange’s entire band was dressed to impressed as they procured some serious coffee house vibes
Egyptian Lover- While the Isotropic stage served as home for the househeads all weekend, The Boiler Room was a consistent mix of bass and smoke. Egyptian Lover stood out from the rest of as his old school mixing techniques sounded straight out of the 1980’s.
Erykah Badu- Aside from being 45 minutes late, Erykah Badu and her band were as soulful as they were experimental. Perhaps the most poignant moment of the show came at the start with a spoken word performance addressing all the pain and emotions that come with being a woman in the world today. For an art form that rarely gets attention, it was great to see slam poetry being performed to such a large audience.
Khruangbin- Psychedelic guitars with a side of drums. What more could you possibly need?
A$AP Rocky- A fitting end to the festival for the early-birds who couldn’t party all the way to 5AM. A$AP got off to a late start, but once he took the stage, the energy of the crowd picked up instantly and didn’t slow down. Switching between songs off of Testing and his sophomore album, At. Long. Last. ASAP, Rocky delivered a memorable performance capped off with an appearance from long-time friend and collaborator, Tyler the Creator.
There was a subtle but evident balance to the entire festival. From the fashion to the general vibe of the crowds, everything and everyone felt relaxed and free. Everyone who was there, was there for the experience, not for the Instagram likes. The lineup had big names to draw in the crowds, but it didn’t lean on them to carry the festival. As you crossed from stage to stage you were destined to discover a new band, a new sound, or a thought-provoking art display that made you stop and stare.
It was exciting to explore this way.
Too often a lineup is so overstuffed with must-see acts that you spend more time running from stage to stage than you do enjoying the moment.
And that’s exactly what III Points Musical Festival did best. It succeeded in keeping everyone present by curating experiences that required your full attention. From dancing on roller skates at the Stillhouse Whiskey Skate Space, to taking a leap of faith into Blu’s giant air bag, it was refreshing to stop and enjoy the little things.