When the xx released its debut record, 2009’s xx, the band was infamous for shyness: Both live and on record, the songs were filled with nervous energy, reflective of the tense pillow talk that defined that initial record. It was the sound of young people grappling with youthful concerns, and all of the sex, trust issues, and affecting relationships that come with that period in one’s life.
Eight years (Jesus Christ, when did we get so old?) onward, the trio of Oliver Sim, Romy Madley Croft, and Jamie Smith not only have zero qualms about baring themselves for their adoring masses, but they also clearly have no problem writing material reflecting their newfound confidence. The bandmates' latest album, I See You, sees them stepping out of the dimly lit rooms of their first two albums and embracing their latent potential to be pop stars.
And last night, boy, did they ever. Flanked by massive mirror installations mimicking the album cover art of I See You, the xx was a joy to behold in its first Miami performance in four years. Working primarily through songs off xx and I See You, the band made Miami both swoon and dance. Unabashed “Wicked Game” ripoff “Infinity” was a particular highlight, with the massive disco ball that hung over Mind Melt audiences all weekend illuminating both the crowd and the band.
But it was when Oliver and Romy stepped aside to let producer Jamie xx do his thing that the performance reached its euphoric peak. Those who were present for Jamie xx’s Art Basel 2015 DJ set inside Mana likely had flashbacks to that wondrous night, because the same yellow lights that accompanied “Loud Places,” the penultimate track played that evening, returned for the full band’s treatment of the fabulous In Colour single.
Closing with “Angels,” the opening track off the band's sophomore album, Coexist, the xx reminded listeners why it possesses a longevity that’s eluded so many indie bands of the past decade. Let’s just hope it won’t be another four years before they return to our side of the Atlantic. — Zach Schlein
Though he has performed at all four previous editions of III Points, never has Jacques Greene delivered a set as euphoric as the one he played Sunday night. Performing on the outdoor S3ctor 3 stage, the Montreal DJ perfectly evoked the utopian ideals of clubbing via work from his debut LP, Feel Infinite, which was released this year after a career heavily assisted by this festival. It's perhaps bold to call his set perfect, but when confronted with such a brilliant, ever-shifting cocktail of timbres, tempos, rhythms, and melodies, one is hard-pressed to think of it as anything less. The shimmering reds, blues, violets, and greens of the multicolored lights sealed the audience in a kaleidoscopic realm, and it was difficult not to feel truly infinite. Next year will be even better. — Douglas Markowitz
Ninja Tune act Bonobo might change the minds of those who deride electronic music for not being "real." When the British musician took command of the Mind Melt stage, he did it with a full band using "real" instruments. (By the way, MIDI controllers are real instruments.) His appearance at the festival capped off the North American leg of a tour that began in August. If Bonobo and his live band were feeling any fatigue, they certainly didn't show it as muggy air hung over Mana and gorgeous visuals accompanied his performance. The set list was heavy on Bonobo's sixth album, Migration, filled with the down-tempo tracks the festival needed Sunday night after three long days of music. — Jose D. Duran
I first learned of footwork dancing in Tokyo, in the fiery crucible known as the Battle Train tournament. I studied the rudimentary steps of the frenetic, 160 bpm Chicago genre with a fellow traveler, a foreign visitor blown in from the Windy City who was willing to share the secrets of the South Side's musical heritage. I thought I was ready to confront the masters, DJ Spinn and DJ Earl, and even DJ Taye, an unannounced guest, nestled in their lair on the White Dragon stage. But I was wrong. I had the moves but not the stamina. I danced for a mere 15 minutes before I overexerted myself. Truth be told, the talent of these mythical adepts, these masters of the Teklife clan, was overwhelming, their skill with the decks prodigious, and their knowledge and craft truly worthy of their sterling reputations. When all was said and done, and I had finished throwing up my supper in the bathroom, I retreated to the side of the room to watch the crowd cavort in glee, joining in on occasion and watching the masters work. I had tasted the sting of defeat, but as the heavy bass washed over me, I was content. — Douglas Markowitz
When Tara Long's musical project debuted in 2015, Poorgrrrl combined elements of the local noise scene with Khia-esque lyrics. In tracks such as "Super Rude" and "errrrrrrrrrrrror," Long gave a bombastic delivery with a distinct Miami-girl attitude. However, others, such as "the bluèzZz... rn," showed Poorgrrrl could be a bit more introspective. Sunday's performance built on that inward-looking idea, as Long ditched the bratty rapping for melancholia. Backed by longtime collaborator Byrdipop and a guitarist, she seemed to channel the Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson. Dancers added visual appeal, while a Poorgrrrl doppelgänger gave the feeling the show was about Long exorcising demons and coming to terms with her alter ego. But don't worry: Poorgrrrl hasn't completely lost her sense of humor. The show opened with a video that parodied Madonna's "Ray of Light" music video, with Poorgrrrl's name painted on twerking asses as the faces of two ejaculate-covered men kissed. — Jose D. Duran
Mike Hadreas, better known as Perfume Genius, is only 36 years old, but he’s already written his epitaph. “No family is safe/When I sashay.” Those lyrics are part of the defiant “Queen,” the crown jewel of his Sunday-night set on the Mind Melt stage. And sashay he did. Dressed in a kind of tropical copper tracksuit and black booties, he began the set with some of the sparser songs in his discography. Slinking, voguing, whipping, and snapping his body, he slithered across the stage as the set built to a crashing, triumphant peak. He spoke sparingly. But if he’s shy in that arena, the rest of his fearless performance made up for it. It was his first time in Miami, and he was here to seduce. It was in the way he took his time to build up the energy of the performance and the way he took the duration of a song to remove his jacket. Like all of the greatest burlesque dancers, he teased — revealing only what he wanted — and left his audience begging for more. — Celia Almeida
Late Sunday afternoon, when members of Pumarosa stepped onto the Mind Melt stage, a sparse crowd greeted them. Many revelers were still recovering from the previous evening’s festivities, afterparties, and the weekend in general. At III Points, a 6:45 p.m. start time is the equivalent of a noon set at Bonnaroo. Still, for a relatively unknown outfit such as Pumarosa, even a smallish audience is an opportunity. The London five-piece took advantage. Lead singer Isabel Muñoz-Newsome and company guided the festival into its final act, past the rich colors of the dusk that was their backdrop and into a night as dark as the sunglasses some still wore long after the sun had set. In terms of atmosphere, Pumarosa was a spiritual cousin to the day's headliner, the xx. However, Pumarosa owes plenty to the '90s: The quintet excels at a grungy sort of dream pop. Their Chromatics-meets-Mazzy Star brand of shoegaze was melodic and passionate, attracting new followers from passersby. The howls of both Muñoz-Newsome and the band’s guitars pinballed off the disco ball above, the asphalt below, and through the ears of listeners. It made for an experience that was, like the band's debut record, The Witch, spellbinding. — Angel Melendez
Toph Taylor, better known by his stage name Sohn, could have packed light for his trip to Miami. All the London native really needed for his Sunday-evening set at Main Frame was a laptop and a few vocal warm-up laps. For a festival accustomed to and even expecting minimalist electronic acts, Sohn was well within his right to keep it simple. Instead, he lit up the massive warehouse with a full band — a drummer, backup singers, and at least three sets of keyboards. But at the center of it all, figuratively and literally, were Sohn and his vocals. His soulful falsetto is reminiscent of James Blake and Milosh of Rhye. It has a sweetness, a sincerity tender enough to melt the iciness of the colder, electronic elements he so often employs. For what will be his “last show for a very long time,” Sohn brought a lasting beauty, a gorgeous aesthetic that contrasted sharply with the abstract artwork in the room just next door. A continual emotional power endured whether he was slowing down the tempo or picking up the pace, his voice blissfully floating between the booming thumps, the looped beats, and the clanking rhythms. Although he spent the majority of the set seated, Sohn brought the already-standing crowd to its feet, emotionally speaking. He was hypnotic until the very end, when he closed with “Artifice” and a grand roar of approval. — Angel Melendez