Down its biggest headliner and plagued by last-minute hiccups, III Points limped into day one, badly wounded. The forces of God, nature, and misfortune had seemingly unloaded their entire arsenal on the Wynwood festival in the form of wind, mosquitoes, and canceled flights.
Year four would be the year of growing pains.
III Points' organizers worked hard to ensure Friday would remain on schedule, and their effort was visible. When the doors did open — slightly late — around 6:30 p.m., the main outdoor "Mind Melt Stage" was still being built. This threw a huge wrench into the day's set times, and artists were shuffled like puzzle pieces as organizers tried to make everything fit. To find an act, attendees had to look the old-fashioned way: with feet, eyes, and ears.
But even in the face of disorder, the true spirit of III Points shined brightly.
Around each corner, one could find something worth staring at. This year's festival layout flows smoothly, a true sensory obstacle course, where every corner of Mana offers something new and unexpected.
The locals showed up strong, masterfully rolling with shuffled set times and changing stages.
If this is III Points in the grips of Murphy's Law — which it certainly appears to be — then, all things considered, the mere fact that Friday even happened is a testament to the festival's ability to think on its feet. Let's hope yesterday's wrinkles have been ironed flat and Saturday will see III Points, once again, at its strongest.
Twelve’Len is everything to everyone. The Carol City-based singer proved as much last night on the Sector 3 Stage with a sound that joyfully hopscotched between genres like a child jumping from puddle to puddle. Although he bears a passing resemblance to A$AP Rocky (and shares the rapper’s frantic fascination with smoking — to the point where his show didn’t really start until he lit up), Twelve’Len has much more in common with R&B crooners such as Blood Orange and Frank Ocean. Although he was originally scheduled to perform at 10:30 p.m., with all the set-time shuffling on day one, the Haitian-American and South Florida native didn’t step onto the stage until about 1 a.m., but it was well worth the wait for those who stuck around. Throughout his set, he channeled André 3000’s ode to love, romance, and sex — the 2003 LP The Love Below. A rising star with a recently released album — Fri(end)s — and an accompanying single about love and unity written for a time rife with division and hatred — “Star Dust” — Twelve’Len has a sound that blends classic psych-rock, funk, soul, and hip-hop. It’s a smooth blend that has him poised to crash radio’s Top 40 and the mainstream any minute. — Angel Melendez
Almost done with his set, Chrome Sparks (AKA Jeremy Malvin) seemed in awe of the response he received during his performance on the Main Frame stage. “This is the best show I’ve ever played in Florida or in the U.S.,” he proclaimed. The crowd went wild. Malvin seemed sincere, and it’s honestly not hard to believe. He’s not exactly a household name yet, but he’s definitely at the point in his career that more and more people are coming out to see him. If he keeps putting on shows like the one he put on last night at III Points, he’ll be a must-see act at any music festival. His set started out slowly and picked up energy with each subsequent song. The stage featured a simple lighting element that was mesmerizing to look at as he and his live band built the sonic landscapes around it. I can’t say I planned to watch Chrome Sparks’ show during the festival, but I’m sure glad I did. — Jose D. Duran
A last-minute schedule change pushed Chrome Sparks ahead of the Long Beach rapper, which didn't turn out to be such a bad thing. Chrome Sparks handed Staples a live wire when he walked off after announcing it had been the greatest show of his life. The MC flawlessly grabbed the baton and ran with it, delivering about an hour of dark, tripped-out California beats. He flowed in his high and nasally pitch through Summertime '06 jams “Lift Me Up,” “Jump Off the Roof,” and “Birds & Bees.” Almost immediately, a proper mosh pit formed in the middle of the rowdy crowd. People crowd-surfed and chanted along to “Fire” and “Pimp Hand.” He gave the electronic-heavy audience a taste of his own dance dabbles on Major Lazer's “With You. – Ghost.” He commanded the stage, which was bare other than his hypeman and DJ standing behind a simple table. The beats ripped the place into a fevered pitch that peaked with favorites “Guns & Roses” and “Norf Norf.” For the moment, the pains of the soggy posthurricane masses and LCD downers were all but forgotten. — Kat Bein
Bluejay is the type of band that could play its songs at pop, folk, or EDM festivals with only slight changes to its arrangements. For Friday’s set in the Sunset @ Noon space, they brought the synths. And even though it's mainly an electronic music festival, they brought out the cello too. It felt like world music from a distant planet, with the alien harmonies of Jay Thomas and JoJo Sunshine blending in with the cello. Maybe they beamed in through the festival’s Mars 3030 virtual-reality installation? Whatever the case, Bluejay is on this planet to make it more interesting. This might be the only band on Earth that synchronizes choreographed ass shakes to the tune of a classical instrument. Even with singer JoJo Sunshine’s arm in a sling — the result of a close encounter with a drunk driver (“get an Uber or kill a girl on a scooter,” she warned the crowd) — Bluejay brought the green light-up sneakers and the party jams. “Miami girls don't pay for drinks,” they sang on one song. “So true,” someone in the crowd agreed. Thankfully, Miami girls don't let a broken arm get in the way of a good time either. — Celia Almeida
The State Of
With Hurricane Matthew wreaking havoc on this year’s III Points production schedule, Friday’s ever-changing set times were unknown for most of the night. Aside from the main outdoor stage, no other area was affected more than Sector 3, which wound up pushing back nearly every act by about two and a half hours. Equally mysterious was how bands would react to all the uncertainty. One outfit that hardly blinked was Miami’s the State Of. Steph Taylor (vocals and keys) and Nabedi Osorio (drums) rolled with the punches, smiling from beginning to end, legitimately having fun, for a show that was one of the highlights of day one. At the foot of the stage, random images and videos flickered on old TV sets, including a shot of Crystal Castles, an apt accompaniment to the State Of, which blended the dark piano pop of the Dresden Dolls with the synthy, driving dance rock of the Naked & Famous or the Sounds. Taylor was a tempest on the keys, while Osorio got a proper workout happily crushing it on her drum kit — so much so that the pedal on the bass drum broke midsong. Luckily, 30 seconds later, Osorio had orchestrated an onstage repair, and they were back in business. It was a moment so seamless it almost felt as if it was all part of the plan. — Angel Melendez
Fudakochi had the deck stacked against him for his late-night Friday set. The TV installation art piece in front of the stage left him competing for fickle attention spans distracted by video clips of Trainspotting, Reefer Madness, and even Maury. Between that and the selfie folks, Fuda could have easily lost the crowd. But he met the moment, arriving in his shiny purple dashiki, armed with a keytar and killer pipes. “Let's dance freely,” he sang as he jumped around the stage, backed by his driving rhythm section. They attacked with love, spreading their messages of positivity, with their sultan of soul psychedelia taking the lead. While the crowd was still warming to the vibe, Fuda's first attempt at asking concertgoers to take out their lighters and cell-phone flashlights fell flat. But after a few distorted keytar solos and his timely opus, “BlackLove,” the audience knew they had to give back to someone who'd left everything he had on the stage. At last they raised their lighters, cell phones, and voices, as Fuda made his midsong James Brown exit. “Goodnight,” was all he said. — Celia Almeida
John Hancock III
Way in the back of the grounds of III Points sat Sector 3. It served as a sort of locals' stage, showcasing the best and the brightest of the Miami music scene. John Hancock III and his Third Party band took the stage a little after 9 p.m. The onetime member of Miami favorite Awesome New Republic was backed by three male band members and a couple of female back-up singers. Hancock showed off his dance moves as he brandished his guitar to some Hall & Oates-influenced dance rock. He sang songs about love, and one, he said, was about love and basketball. A stack of TV sets in the foreground of the stage showed vintage movies and classic cartoons. They didn't really match the vibes onstage, but that didn't bother the sizable crowd — including those sitting on the roof of a parked school bus, where one reveler danced without a care about the ten-foot drop below. — David Rolland
Clad in black vinyl from head to toe, Sophie took the indoor Main Frame stage earlier than his scheduled 2:20 a.m. set — much earlier. Around 8 p.m., with foggy lights illuminating his silhouette, he immediately created a sense of uneasiness — both visually and sonically — as he went straight into his most challenging track, “L.O.V.E.” It set the tone for the rest of his set, which concentrated heavily on his recent collaborations with Charli XCX — “Vroom Vroom,” “Trophy,” and the unreleased “Burn Rubber” — all making appearances. Other highlights included an unreleased Big Freedia collaboration that I’ll call “Let Me See Ya” just for the sake of identification, as well as fan favorite “Hard” and a rework of GFOTY’s “Friday Night.” Sophie finished his chaotic set with what has become his signature closer, the techno-ballad “Just Like We Never Said Goodbye.” It was a short, 50-minute performance, which only fueled the punk-show pace of the set. With many DJs preferring to build the momentum during the sets, taking their audience on a “journey,” Sophie shuns that notion, instead giving listeners an experience that’s more akin to freebasing crack cocaine than taking an acid trip. — Jose D. Duran
Several times during Millionyoung's 45-minute set, complete strangers asked, "Who is this?" It was too loud in the sweaty vaporwave mall known as Sunset @ Noon to answer, but consider this a written response. Millionyoung is Mike Diaz, a South Florida musician and producer who, on this night, was accompanied by three bandmates, a drummer, and two other men who swapped guitars for keyboards and bass guitars. They started the 11:30 p.m. set with some relaxed chillwave mixed in with some light jazz. As it grew closer to midnight, the tempo charged toward funk with the occasional tinge of calypso. The room that had been close to empty for many of the previous acts filled up with a couple hundred people. They intently watched the band, flanked by a couple of headless nude mannequins. As Millionyoung went into a cover of Animal Collective's "My Girls," for a moment at least, no one seemed too pissed that LCD Soundsystem had flaked out on Miami. — David Rolland