Pay attention. You don't want to miss these sets.
Pay attention. You don't want to miss these sets.
Photo by Alex Markow

Ten Can't-Miss Local Acts of III Points 2016

In just four years, III Points has grown at a staggering pace. Year one, the festival seemed to have been slapped together in a matter of months. Yet despite the rush job, 2013's inaugural edition was electric thanks to the headliners, which included DJ Shadow, Jamie xx, and James Murphy. 

But the birth of III Points also brought the possibility of Miami finally getting a second major music festival outside of Ultra. In a city that's littered with corpses of music festivals past — Bang, Global Gathering, Divine Playground — III Points acts a counterbalance to the enormous March bacchanal and signals the official beginning of Miami's busy event season. 

But what truly sets III Points apart is the love it shows the Miami music scene. Sure, a lot of smaller festivals throughout the year showcase local talent; however, none does it on the scale of III Points. For three days, the Magic City's music scene shares the stage with national acts, giving much-needed exposure to the sounds coming out of these swampy parts. And as the festival grows and its national profile rises, III Points might finally be the catalyst that shines a spotlight on Miami music.

From rock to hip-hop and electronic, Miami acts are forging their own sound that is distinctly 305. So aside from checking out LCD Soundsystem's first South Florida show since 2010, carve out some time to support your local music scene. III Points does a good job of picking out the best the city has to offer, so you can't go wrong with any of the local music at the festival. But if you're looking for some help, here are ten acts to have on your radar.

(Also, check out last year's list of local acts at III Points. Most of them are returning and are still highly recommended.)

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Photo Courtesy of Brika

10. Brika, 3:05 p.m. Sunday, on the Mind Melt stage.

Early this year, New Times proclaimed that Brika could be the next big thing out of Miami. With a keen sense of pop musicality, she's definitely one to watch. Her voice has an old-school quality that's rich with nuance and subtlety, rare these days. In February, Brika admitted she was still trying to get comfortable performing in front of an audience, saying she felt more at home in the studio. Still, that shouldn't prevent you from checking out her set at the festival. Seeing an artist grow as a performer and get comfortable in her own skin is always one of the most rewarding things a music fan can witness.

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Courtesy Photo

9. Grey 8s, 8:45 p.m. Saturday, on the Sector 3 stage.

You'd never know from hearing them that the Grey 8s got their start playing as a church band. The group's garage-rock sound isn't exactly the music you'd hear between sermons. But no matter its origin, the band serves as a reassurance that the city's rock scene is alive and well — not that it was ever in danger of dying. The Grey 8s stand out from the rock pack by delivering a more bluesy sound. That aesthetic gives their music a sort of timeless quality, with influences coming from every decade since the birth of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s.

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Photo Courtesy of Uchi

8. Uchi, 9 p.m. Sunday, on the Sunset @ Noon stage.

OK, so Uchi technically doesn't live in Miami anymore. Earlier this year, the DJ/producer decamped to Berlin, a city that has taken a lot of great dance music talent from our sunny shores. Still, you should be eager to see what the German capital's music scene has taught her. If it's anything like her Boiler Room set from earlier this year, expect lush soundscapes that aren't always danceable but are definitely interesting to hear and dissect.

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Photo by Teajay Smith / @teajayphoto

7. Holly Hunt, 9 p.m. Sunday, on the Sector 3 stage.

Not to be confused with the Design District furniture showroom that bears the same name, this two-piece metal band constructs a wall of noise that's amazing to experience live and cheaper than anything you can buy at that swanky home-goods store. Beatriz Monteavaro and Gavin Perry are a fixture at Churchill's and experimental rock shows all over South Florida, but Sunday will mark Hunt's III Points debut. There's really nothing quite like them in the lineup, so if you need a break from the electronic and hip-hop acts during the festival, watch Holly Hunt blow a few speakers when Monteavaro rattles off drum beats like a machine gun.

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Photo by Devin Christopher

6. Poorgrrrl, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, on the Main Frame stage.

At last year's festival, there was a single question on everyone's mind: Who the hell is Poorgrrrl? The answer came right before Damian Lazarus hit the stage Sunday night. And since her trippy debut, the performance-art-meets-noise-and-hip-hop act has grown into a legit music career for Tara Long. She released her first EP, Pitiparti, on DJ Tennis' Parachute Records this past July, brushing off the haters who fail to understand what she's going for. Now that everyone knows who Poorgrrrl is — or do they? — it will be interesting to see how Long's live performance has grown exactly one year later.

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Courtesy Photo

5. IndigoChildRick, 6:30 p.m. Friday, on the Main Frame stage.

Remember in the '90s, when rock, dance, and hip-hop all stayed in their respective lanes? Thankfully, that's not the case these days. Artists feel more comfortable taking inspiration from all kinds of music, regardless of genre. Producer/rapper IndigoChildRick embodies that ethos, crafting songs that defy classification — from the metal-influenced "Retribution" to the almost-Kraftwerk-ian beat of "Back on the Block."

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Photo by Michael J. Ruiz-Unger

4. Heavy Drag, 9:50 p.m. Sunday on the Sector 3 stage.

Being happy is overrated, so let the Heavy Drag bum you out during its live set. The band — which consist of the remains of local act Lil Daggers — specializes in what it calls "bummer songs," tracks that give off a '90s-grunge vibe, plodding along with the world's problems on its shoulders. The group's latest album, Sábana Ghost, epitomizes the sort of gloomy aspect that has become the band's signature. But even with all the angst, there are still plenty of hooks in Heavy Drag's musical offerings, giving everything a familiar pop feel even though the band is nothing you'd ever hear on Top 40 radio.

Ten Can't-Miss Local Acts of III Points 2016
Photo by Cellini Kim

3. Twelve'len, 10:30 p.m. Friday, on the Sector 3 stage.

When New Times interviewed Twelve'len in 2015, the act was described as a trio. But these days it seems like the project has become the stage name for singer Vares Joseph. Perhaps it's for the better, because Twelve'len was always hard to classify. Was the music rock, R&B, hip-hop, or pop? Twelve'len is all of those things, and perhaps "going solo" has been beneficial in sharpening Twelve'len's message. That focus has already gotten Joseph plenty of attention outside of Miami, including a writeup in the Fader that compared him to Frank Ocean. In his latest track, "Star Dust," it's easy to see why the Carol City native earns the comparison.

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Photo by Virgo

2. Virgo, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, on the Sunset @ Noon stage.

If any local electronic act seems capable of making waves nationally, it's Virgo. Her sound is unique enough to make it a compelling listen but not so inaccessible that it would turn off most listeners. On top of that, Elizabeth Ann Clark seems interested in taking an audio-visual approach to Virgo, having designed a videogame and virtual-reality experience that would serve as a platform to release new music. (Similar to the way Björk made her Biophilia album available through a series of apps.) But when it comes to the music, Virgo has proven herself to be a formidable act. Her EP Water Planet is one of this writer's favorite local releases of the year so far, and it's hard to look away from her ethereal glow when she takes the stage.

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Photo Courtesy of III Points

1. Nick León, 4 p.m. Sunday, on the Isotropic stage. 

Starting out making beats for rappers, Nick León has proven to be an apt musician in his own right. His debut album, Profecía, which features a mixture of live, organic sounds with studio-produced beats, is a haunting effort so full of depth and thought that it single-handedly proves Miami acts are capable of delivering more than superficial cuts about partying and excess. His sound has gotten so much attention outside the Sunshine State that Profecía came together at the urging of Alpha Pup label boss Daddy Kev, whose music engineering wizardry is sought after by acts such as Flying Lotus and Thundercat. It's only a matter of time before some superstar act snatches him up to create beats, similar to what Beyoncé did with the Broward County-bred producer Boots.

III Points. 5 p.m. Friday, October 7, through Sunday, October 9, at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-0371; manawynwood.com. Tickets cost $99 to $299 via iiipoints.com.

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