III Points Festival 2014, Day Three
With Mac DeMarco, Jamie Jones and Hot Natured, Tiga, Com Truise, and others
Soho Studios, Wynwood, Miami
Friday, October 10, 2014
Good morning, Dade County.
Oh, you can't hear me 'cause you're still asleep and the bass is still tickling the inside of your eardrums? I don't blame you.
For the second year in a row, III Points has shown it definitely has a way of obliterating your sleep schedule. But it's all worth the lack of rest, if a life-affirming fix of four-to-the-floor beats is what you've been needing.
Entering the festival grounds, we were immediately faced with a Mad Max-style shantytown, complete with stacked, staticky TVs, stray airplane parts, and a defaced school bus converted into a hangout zone. The atmosphere of the fest has grown leaps and bounds since last year's more humble beginnings, and overall the production quality has been pushed way, way up, making for a more immersive experience.
Of course, this is a music festival, and the production value ain't much if you haven't got acts. Luckily, there were all-stars present from all across the electronic spectrum and beyond, from big, tent-filling acts like Flying Lotus and Mac DeMarco to more niche selections like Hercules & Love Affair or Kaytranada. Acts big and small made use of a more-than-ample sound system to shake asses and nod heads.
We swooped in around 8 p.m. to catch New York native Com Truise manning the decks, pumping retro-future bass through the Mainframe stage to a backdrop of pastel-hued galactic imagery. Heavy on tension and drama, Com Truise's set weaved through percolating synth lines and drums that stuttered and slapped like an old-school DeLorean tricked out with a hyperdrive.
An intoxicating mix of '80s nostalgia and forward-thinking dynamics, the man is a force behind the booth and an artist with a singular vision to grow over the years. If one complaint could be leveraged, the material could use a little more space to breathe before the next bludgeoning drum hit, and the tempos could wander more frequently out of the midrange. Still, highly recommended.
After an intermission necessitated by a short burst of pouring rain, a starry-eyed crowd gathered at the outside stage to welcome the new golden boy of slacker rock, Canada's Mac DeMarco.
Sticking out like a sore thumb at a festival loaded mostly with sampler-happy beat junkies, Mac nevertheless managed to capture the attention of the devoted crowd. And I mean devoted -- for reasons unknown, Mac had to play the show solo, sans backing band. A quiet, lone-wolf-style set at a festival is hard to pull off, and that goes doubly when you're fighting for volume against waves of pounding techno pouring in from other stages. In this regard, Mac did beautifully, captivating us with pitch-bent guitar chords and some mostly on-key, majestic warbling.
We sensed the guy has enough stage presence to entertain for hours on end and enough to charm to be convincingly modest about it all. At one point, Mac tossed out a pack's worth of cigarettes, one by one, to the crowd. At another, he took a break from crooning to slap the mic powerfully against his groin, producing a loud popping sound.
The indubitable highlight of his set, though, was when he inquired if anyone played drums and was soon joined by a fan who helmed the previously unmanned kit behind him. Together they launched into a distortion-fried rendition of Metallica's "Enter Sandman," complete with DeMarco's convincingly growly butt-rock impression. Overall, doubts about Mac's ability to carry a festival show dissolved into euphoric swaying and emphatic cheering, and his set full of self-proclaimed love songs undoubtedly sent many hearts aflutter.
One final crowd surf and it was back to the beat, as we rushed inside to catch the melodic, overdriven tech-pop of British-American hybrid Hot Natured.
Led by Jamie Jones and Lee Foss, who also cofounded their own label, Hot Creations, the band is an electronic supergroup of sorts composed of notable producers. The sound has an alt-'90s vibe, simultaneously intoning the peak of rave and the future of bass.
Tightly knit and impeccably curated, the group's electro licks tugged heavily at our dancing shoes while the tuneful crooning serenaded our ears. Melodically head and shoulders above their peers, the group is definitely pushing dance music to new territories.
Things got a bit darker as Hot Natured traded the stage with Tiga, a Canadian producer whose set leaned heavily on build and release. He's worked with like-minded artists such as James Murphy and Matthew Dear, and their sense of dance-floor drama and momentum has definitely rubbed off on him.
A master of the slow crescendo, Tiga's tracks fade effortlessly into one another, creating peaks and valleys in an overarching structure designed to push a beat to its breaking point and back again. Frantic imagery unfolded behind him as tempos coalesced and diverged, maintaining a forward push while allowing enough subtle complexity to keep things fresh.
As the night crept into the wee hours, Jamie Jones (who had just dismounted the stage with Hot Natured) returned to the decks for a victory lap to send us off with a grin.
A perfect closing act for the tech-minded festival, Jones was once voted the world's foremost DJ by acclaimed dance magazine Resident Advisor and regularly holds his "Paradise" series of parties at the DC10 club in Ibiza, so it should go without saying that the dude is no slouch behind the turntables. His distinct mix of Chicago-influenced minimal house and the more lush sensibilities of techno whirred into a metabolic beast that shatters conventions.
Even detractors of house have to acknowledge Jones' uncanny ability to meld genres and techniques into a fluid and melodic force.
And then, just as suddenly as it descended upon sleepy Wynwood, III Points began to empty out into the night.
A festival with a little something for everyone (and a lot for electronic devotees), the future seems bright for this fledgling event to take off in any direction it pleases in the coming years.
As long as the organizers continue to book compelling and diverse acts, we'll gladly follow.
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