Day three is always a royal bitch. With blistered feet and damaged ear drums (seriously — where were your earplugs this year, people?), many attendees were on autopilot the final day of III Points 2016, a year marked by both adversity and triumph.
Luckily, there is a cure for such exhaustion: really good, loud music. And III Points had the antidote.
Though attendees did have to suffer one last annoying and crushing cancelation when Earl Sweatshirt apparently missed his flight, things turned out all right when Trick Daddy showed up to help fill the slot. Add in some stunning performances by M83, Machinedrum, SunGhosts, and others, and it was enough to send you into Monday with an aching head full of blessed memories.
Perhaps no one is more exhausted than III Points. After dodging and clawing over a comically ridiculous number of obstacles, the festival picked itself up and dusted itself off, finishing strong and showing true grit through it all. It wasn't easy. It wasn't perfect. But it was worth it.
As the sun began to sink, SunGhosts' bassist and hype-man Jared Steingold informed the crowd: "Try to keep up; you'll lose." Indeed, for the whole half-hour they were allotted, Miami's SunGhosts put on a high-energy set — to say the least. Starting from the opener "Polterguy," the four members did not stand or allow for a dull moment, as one song bled into the next with the efficiency of a NASCAR pit crew. Weaned on the glory days of rock, the band shows influences of guitar heroes such as the Strokes and Jet. And the members, wearing various versions of sleeveless shirts, did their influences justice, entertaining the sizable mass that made its way to the band's humble stage. By the time they got to their last song (they had to fight with the stage manager to squeeze it in), even the mural of Frida Kahlo behind the temporary stage was smiling under her unibrow. — David Rolland
“We gotta shut it down right now 'cause this is my hometown!” Denzel Curry declared as he leaped onto the Main Frame stage. They say there's nothing like a hometown crowd, and for his Sunday set, Curry got a hero's welcome. The packed crowd of concertgoers bounced and threw their hands up in anticipation of his arrival, and once he was there, he held the audience at his every whim. They put their U's up when he commanded, and they screamed the lyrics to “ULT” and “Narcotics” back at him. When he motioned for silence, they hung on to his every word until he gestured it was OK for them to go wild again. “Get your motherfucking hands up right now and follow instructions!” he commanded. They listened. Though the VIP section sat sleepily, true fans paid no mind as they partied in the pit. New material slowed the momentum momentarily, but Curry was masterful at gauging the audience’s energy level and shifted his set back toward the fan favorites just as he was losing them. The most hyped reaction came for the closer, “Ultimate,” where the crowd kept up with Curry’s rapid and aggressive delivery. If festival schedules hadn't been running slightly behind, the audience would surely have demanded an encore, but as the lights came on, the crowd accepted it was time to move on and headed out to catch M83. — Celia Almeida
When bass is on the menu, Chef Craze can cook it up any which way. The local hero took control of the Isotropic stage as the party shifted from day to night. The crystal-decorated corner of the festival had thus far offered almost strictly deep house, but Sunday was all about the beat-heavy vibes. Craze brought hip-hop heaters, mixing classic jams and original soul samples. He also took a few moments to show off his new DJ Khaled drops. Keeping it cool like Craze is definitely a major key. — Kat Bein
From the onset of their very first show in Miami, Australian DJ-and-producer duo Flight Facilities illustrated how at ease they are with mainstream dance music. Theirs is a silky blend of euro-pop and nu-disco. For proof, look no further than their debut record, Down to Earth, which features fellow Aussie and dance-pop luminary Kylie Minogue on the track “Crave You.” Flight Facilities' set Sunday night on the outdoor Mind Melt stage, one of the only DJ sets to grace the main stage, was a breezy segue into the final hours of III Points. The music was the sort of easily digestible, fun-for-the-whole-family EDM we might get from an Ellie Goulding-led dance number or anything Calvin Harris has done in the past five years. In fact, the men behind the aviation-themed project, Hugo Gruzman and James Lyell, have jokingly told journalists that they are indeed Harris. Although this might seem like a criticism of their work, it’s really just the opposite. Flight Facilities makes airy, uncomplicated electronica that does away with any sense of elitism and just lives — revels, really — in the moment. Gruzman and Lyell, dressed as a 1940s fighter pilot and a modern-day airline captain, were clearly having fun spinning from their DJ booth designed to look like a futuristic air traffic control tower. Armed with sunny, upbeat grooves and a pair of vocalists to tie it all together, Flight Facilities lifted the crowd’s spirit; bodies moved amid the lights, and the music soared high enough into the sky to touch the constant stream of actual airplanes flying overhead. — Angel Melendez
One of the saddest moments of III Points was the second Earl Sweatshirt canceled. I literally grabbed a III Points schedule and threw it to the ground in red-faced anger after III Points posted that the Odd Future rapper had missed his flight. Then someone said Trick Daddy would perform instead. “Oh, well, all right,” I said. “That's pretty cool.” To eager Sweatshirt fans, it didn't completely heal the wound, but it did make the boo-boo feel slightly better. I had been counting down the days to see Earl, but any real Miamian is never sad to see more Trick Daddy. The aging MC hit the Main Frame stage ready to rock. An ample crowd sang along to iconic classics such as “I'm a Thug,” “Na'an,” and “I'm So Hood.” The set was short and direct — as most Trick Daddy performances are these days — a 30-minute flurry of hits, and then on to the next one. It sucks to find yourself in the position of having to scramble, but it means a lot to know III Points had someone like Trick on call to save the day at the drop of a dime. — Kat Bein
While much of America sat huddled in front of a TV set or streaming service, getting depressed about their presidential options, a small crowd was transported to less cynical times courtesy of Heavy Drag. The Miami psych-rock four-piece had six members for its III Points showcase, if you count a tambourine banger and the occasional female backing singer. Though Heavy Drag got off to a unsteady start, the band's goal became clear by the second song; one could tell they were going for the kind of drug-addled, freak-out rock Charles Manson would have played if he had any musical talent. If you dig the Brian Jonestown Massacre or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Heavy Drag will be your new favorite local band. They are not into theatrics. The closest to showmanship the group got was when the drummer occasionally stood up to hit his hi-hat. But if you like music that gives you a secondhand high, the band whose catchiest tune is titled "LSD" is for you. — David Rolland
You can listen to Machinedrum all you want in the comfort of your own home, but you still won't understand the true value of his moniker until he has slapped you in the face with rhythm. The dude might actually be a robot. His set was a constant barrage of bullet-fast beats. It felt like time-traveling to the glory days of drum 'n' bass, only with much more magical melodies. His set was heavy with tracks from his latest album, Human Energy. It would have been a dope set to see in Sunset @ Noon section, given Machinedrum's affinity for mannequins and vapor-esque visuals, but the Main Frame stage gave him a little more room to work his magic. Sunday was definitely thick with sleepy vibes, but Machinedrum made sure there was no slouching on his watch. — Kat Bein
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Perhaps no band was better suited for the aptly named Mind Melt stage than day three’s show-stealing headliner, M83. Wasting not a single minute of its allotted hour, the French synth-pop group, created by the brilliant Anthony Gonzalez, dove headfirst into its most popular tracks. Emerging from fog and lasers, M83 opened with “Reunion,” quickly followed by “Do It, Try It,” and allowed no one to catch their breath before launching into “Steve McQueen.” Considering the grandiose nature of M83’s catalogue and the dazzling lights accentuating each note, every song seemed to come from some diamond-rainbow-encrusted alien planet — a perfect fit for the otherworldly vibes of III Points. If joy could be converted from an abstract emotion into an audio/visual reality, it would be an M83 show. It must be said that although M83 is primarily Gonzalez’s songwriting vehicle, his touring band is vital in helping to bring to life this experience. Multi-instrumentalist Jordan Lawlor, drummer Loïc Maurin, saxophonist Joe Berry, and the band’s newly minted member, Kaela Sinclair (a native of Tampa) on backing vocals and keys, are integral cogs of this dance-bliss machine. Lawlor in particular never stands still. Whether he’s shredding on the bass guitar or banging on the cow bells, he appears to be gliding, almost ice-skating his way across the stage. In replacing Morgan Kibby, Sinclair is a natural fit, while Berry is a fan favorite whenever he lays down the '80s sax-man grooves. In all, the set was hypnotic and majestic, and not just because of the flashing lights dancing across the eyes of the audience. The final quartet of songs, which included “Midnight City,” a track that easily could be attributed to a late night beast like Miami, and “Outro,” which climbed a wall of sound only to be lifted up into the heavens, lent the finale a cinematic quality for a proper farewell not only to Sunday night but to III Points 2016. — Angel Melendez