Overall, I'd say that this year's III Points was a winner and an improvement from last year's festival. It was bigger, the acts were more diverse, the art installations were superb, and despite it raining before opening day, the weather was relatively nice the rest of the weekend for mid-October. (I'm guessing III Points stocked up at the local botánica.) I also can't fault them for the day one AC fiasco that had the Main Frame stage feeling like it was the
Still, I'm all about looking at the good and the bad, because if you're going to grow constructive criticism is key.
By the way, if you are wondering what's happening in that nifty GIF, you can thank Otto von Schirach, Veronica Gessa, and Kryogenifex's Booty Bass & Bounce House party during III Points. Papayas were eaten and I saw things that can not be unseen.
1. Live Acts
Last year it seemed like the festival focused heavily on DJs and electronic music, but 2015 definitely brought a better balance between live acts and DJs. And the "live" also encompassed more than just live dance or electronic music, there was also indie rock, hip-hop, R&B, and every other kind of hyphenated genre you can image. The guitar was king this year and it was great. Some of my own personal highlights included AlunaGeorge, Run the Jewels, and Bomba Estéreo.
2. Jason Boogie's "Theoretical Framework"
There were a lot of great art installations at this year's festival, so a shout out to them all. However, the one piece that definitely seemed to capture every attendee's attention was "Theoretical Framework" by Jason Boogie, AKA VJ AV8. It was the perfect combination of sculpture, projection mapping, and sound to create a gateway into the Main Frame area. The best part was that it seemed to evolve as the festival progressed eventually exploding with color by the third day.
The most WTF performance of the festival was local act @Poorgrrrl, who is part of the Space Tapes record label, which was cofounded by David Sinopoli — AKA the cofounder of III Points. I'm still scratching my head about what I saw — think suburban Kendall house party, gyrating mamis, and zero fucks given — but at the very least it was memorable. @Poorgrrrl, the alter ego of performance artist Tara Long, has a couple — literally two — tracks on her SoundCloud and has previewed some of her forthcoming work around town, including the Pitiparti EP. The whole thing reminds me of the performance-art-meets-pop thoroughness of London's PC Music label but with Miami ratchetness tacked on. In other words, it's great!
4. The Food
Last year, we praised the inclusion of Shake Shack. This year they also had Coyo Taco, La Latina, and the soon-to-be-open-permanently Phuc Yea. This is contrary to what you'll find at most U.S. festivals — think county-fair food — so, yea, I'd say it's pretty awesome that III Points can manage to snag quality vendors. Another highlight was Coconut Cartel and their rum-filled coconuts along with an AstroTurfed area that was perfect for laying down while catching the sets on the Sector 3 stage. I did, however, miss having Panther Coffee there — that cold brew is the (legal) stuff that keeps tired reporters going.
Finally, a Miami music festival jumps on the radio-frequency identification (RFID) wristband bandwagon. The technology has been used by other festivals including Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Bonnaroo for several years now. That meant for the most part there was never a wait to get in and, yes, III Points doesn't necessarily match the crowd attendance of those festival I mentioned, but the wristbands worked well. Next step would be incorporating the ability to make purchases at the festival with the wristband and maybe even tie your III Points activation RSVPs to it as well.
I've heard many people complain that New Times keeps saying "Wynwood is dead." Look, Wynwood isn't dead, but the neighborhood I started frequenting around 2005 certainly is. News of Moshe Mana's plans for his production village broke a week before the festival, and while I'm sure most festival-goers partied on blissfully unaware that soon 24-story towers would stand where they were dancing, I couldn't help but feel a bit of sadness. I can't hold anything against Mana for doing what he wants with the property he rightfully owns, but that does leave one big question: Where will III Points be held in the coming years? It's quite possible that 2016 might see a return to Mana if construction hasn't started, but after that the festival certainly won't be able to return to it or its previous home at Soho Studios. Will it have to start looking for venues outside of Wynwood? Possibly.
2. Performances "From the Other Side"
No amount of arguing is going to convince me Doom's "appearance" at III Points wasn't all kinds of awkward. It wasn't even the fact that it wasn't being broadcasted live or that he wasn't physically there. It's just that if I wanted to see a long-form music video by Doom, I'd rather do that in the comfort of my own home and not at a festival. Maybe I psyched myself up too much, but I expected a 3D hologram or something of that ilk. It just wasn't impressive or memorable, and a perfect example of hype exceeding what was delivered. And I know I'm not the only one who felt that way, whether anyone cares to admit or not. As I watched Doom on screen, I could feel the crowd's interest waning every minute that went by and the energy being sucked out of the room. Everyone around me was dead silent and that's not a good thing at a live show.
3. My Wallet
This was literally the conversation I had with a bartender at III Points:
Me: "Can I get a drink?"
Bartender: "Single or double, man? For $18 the double is cheaper."
Me: "I know you're trying to upsell me, but in what
Bartender: "Yea, but if you get two single drinks it's going to cost you $11 each."
Me: "I understand that, but I just want you to admit to me that $18 is an insane amount to pay for a drink."
Bartender stares at me with both confusion and sadness.
Me: "Just give me a double."
4. The 3 a.m. Closing Time
While I'm sure some would disagree with me about III Points' 3 a.m. closing time — and, by all means, I welcome the debate — I'm still not convinced it's the best route for the festival. (I brought up the same issue last year.) Never mind that my 32-year-old body no longer tolerates such foolery, by Sunday the last thing I wanted to do was stay at Mana until 3. I know the festival tries to take advantage of Columbus Day the following Monday, but I still haven't found one person who actually has Columbus Day off. I'd also really love to see the parties surrounding the festival develop into SXSW-type showcases and the late closing might never allow that to progress.
5. The Future
There's no doubt that III Points' future seems bright and one day it could become the kind of festival acts beg their managers to get them booked at. So what I mean when I say "The Future" it's that one day we'll all be looking back and saying, "Remember when III Points was this awesomely small festival? It was filled with people who really love music and not just bros and weekend warriors." We definitely witnessed a more diverse crowd this year (something I predicted would happen last year), and I know they will tell their friends, who in turn will tell their friends who will then take to the internet to blast "#IIIPoints2019 crew role call!" The next few years will definitely test the festival's organizers and how well they can balance their original vision for the festival with the temptations surging attendance and budgets bring.