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Tyler the Creator. View more photos from III Points 2019 day one here.EXPAND
Photo by Karli Evans

III Points 2019: Tyler the Creator, Pussy Riot, Beach House, and Virtual Self Kicked Off Day One

Miami has anticipated the sixth edition of III Points for the past 16 months, but it looks like the wait was worth it. The move from October to February brings milder temperatures, and even though the three-day festival is taking place over the busy Presidents' Day weekend — Art Wynwood, Coconut Grove Arts Festival, and the Miami International Boat Show also are happening — III Points is still able to cut through all the noise and make its presence known.

At Mana Wynwood, things just feel better organized this time around. The festival is finally using the entire space, both indoor and outdoor. The first night brought a smattering of technical difficulties at several of the stages, but the hiccups didn't appear to dampen the crowd's spirit. Everyone seemed to take it all in stride.

It's also worth noting Miami finally has a cashless festival. Though it would be nice if the RFID admission bracelet could also be used for purchases, mobile wallet services such as Apple Pay are available at practically every point of sale. Yes, you could still pay with cash if you wanted to, but why would you? This is how every major festival in Miami ought to run.

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But let's not forget the reason for III Points' success: the music. The festival's first night, which wrapped up at 5 a.m. today, brought the heavy-hitters straight from the get-go, including main-stage performances by Tyler the Creator and Beach House, chaotic performances by Poorgrrrl and Pussy Riot, and perhaps the most impressive light show in the festival's history courtesy of Virtual Self. Here's what went down day one.

Poorgrrrl. You never know what to expect when III Points vet Poorgrrrl hits the stage at Mana. In 2017, she largely ditched her party-girl antics for a more introspective set, but flashes of her no-fucks-given aesthetic poked through. This year, she opened with Brandon Flowers’ disco-funk jam “The Man” and brought the dissonant sounds of the International Noise Conference to the III Points stage. Though her LED backdrop read, “Emotional Poorgrrrl Advisory,” her set was nothing short of a full-out party. Her dancers launched T-shirts from the stage, she smashed props midset à la Kurt Cobain, and then she closed out her set with an SNL-style sax sendoff. What the hell will she do next year? — Celia Almeida

Dean Blunt. III Points' organizers have always prided themselves on picking exquisitely weird acts, and this year they’ve outdone themselves in booking the avant-garde U.K. rap jester Dean Blunt. His anti-performance, delivered completely in the dark, began with a semi-ironic sample of an angry rap act — which sounded vaguely like XXXTentacion — demanding the audience open up the pit. From there, Blunt, uh, pretty much just played his songs. The bulk of his set seemed to be made up of short, sample-sourced acoustic guitar loops and other strange samples over which he would rap. About 20 minutes in, he started on some bass-heavy turntablism that mildly got the crowd going. At one point, he even dipped into “50 Cent,” his most recognizable song from his most famous album, Black Metal, from all the way back in 2013. A cheer of recognition came from the crowd, which also was shrouded in darkness. Frankly, it's difficult to evaluate this set. Audiences expect something confounding from Blunt, whose past sets have included blasts of harsh noise and other distancing devices. But this set was so normal, so standard, it defied expectations. Was it amazing? (No.) Was it disappointing? (No.) Mainly, it was confusing. It was pretty Blunt. — Doug Markowitz

Beach House. The indie-rock darlings of Beach House and their gauzy, melancholic sound kicked off day one’s headlining performances on the main outdoor stage, Mind Melt, around 9:20 p.m. with a performance that was at once languid and larger-than-life. Singer Victoria Legrand’s signature heavy fringe cast a moody shadow over her eyes while the rest of her sequined body shimmered in strobe lights. The entire set playing out against a Milky Way-like backdrop of inky blue shades and kaleidoscopic lights. “Dive,” from 2018’s 7, was the perfect entry point into the Baltimore duo’s dreamy, layered performance, starting out slow, balmy, and contemplative and building up to an exhilarating, cinematic breakdown that spoke to a crowd of wavy bodies and closed-eyed head-nodding. Other standout tracks came from across the band’s substantial catalogue spanning more than a decade, including “Silver Soul” from 2010’s breakthrough Teen Dream and “Lazuli” off of 2014’s Bloom. “Thank you for joining us in our dark land of love,” guitarist Alex Scally said with a laugh between songs. For a now-sprawling festival that pulses deep into the early morning, Beach House’s deliberate, slow-burning set was the ideal wading-in that attendees needed to warm them up for the long weekend ahead. — Falyn Freyman

Pussy Riot. The band came all the way from Russia, so it’s forgivable that Pussy Riot’s set on the Sector 3 stage began about 30 minutes late. Once the ski-masked riot grrrls took the stage, the beginning of their set was marred by technical difficulties, and ringleader Nadya Tolokonnikova could be seen leering over the sound booth. It was probably just some techy banter between the musician and sound guys, but ski masks make any exchange look tense. As their LED-screen backdrop flashed phrases such as “KGB vs. Pussy Riot Gang” and “My Place Is a White House," a fan in the front row sprayed beer on surrounding attendees while yelling, “It’s fucking Pussy Riot!” Later, a neon news ticker on the screen reminded the audience that the very acts of performing these songs and gathering to watch them are illegal in Putin's Russia. It was a sobering moment during an otherwise uproarious III Points set. — Celia Almeida

JPEGMAFIA. I almost died at this set. I almost got run over in the pit, which consisted of pretty much everyone in the audience. That’s how hype it was. That’s how much energy JPEGMAFIA put into his performance. He dove into the crowd. He got winded after the first song, became exhausted after the fourth, and still went all-in for the rest of the set. He shouted out collaborator Denzel Curry and delivered a freestyle that bashed the cops (and Trump). He riffed on the (alleged) weed he bought and how good it was. Truly, there is no performer who goes as hard as Peggy and gives less of a fuck, and if there is one, I am terrified of them. — Doug Markowitz

Honey Dijon. Given that dance music is dominated by straight white men, it's surprising that Honey Dijon — a black transgender woman — is as popular as she is. However, if you're ever lucky enough to catch her spin, you'll quickly understand why she's the dance music savior we need right now. Her sound is so deeply rooted in traditional house, the same music that black and Latino LGBTQ people used as a form of escapism during a time when it seemed like the world wanted them to disappear. Dijon's sets are unapologetically black — aptly mixing classic soul cuts such as Steve Wonder's "Sir Duke" and transforming them into dance-floor gold. Do yourself a favor and ask for a side of Honey Dijon for your bland chicken tenders. — Jose D. Duran

Tyler the Creator. View more photos from III Points 2019 day one here.EXPAND
Photo by Karli Evans

Tyler the Creator. Tyler’s brand of outlandish, irascible alt-rap is like the punk music of a new generation, one that grew up on the internet and too much sugary cereal. His performance following Beach House on the Mind Melt stage quickly snapped the crowd into hype mode as he bounded across the stage in his boyish bucket hat and jean shorts like the jacked-up star of his own twisted cartoon world. A Grammy-nominated rapper whose music exuberantly swings between charming and crude, angry and enlightened, Tyler has clearly reached a point where his visual productions are as creative and well orchestrated as his musical ones, with his super-HD, story-book-style animated backdrop playing out like an alternative narrative over the course of the nearly 1.5-hour set. Despite a couple of technical glitches, Tyler's high-energy performance more than delivered for a youthful, devoted crowd. — Falyn Freyman

Virtual Self. View more photos from III Points 2019 day one here.EXPAND
Photo by Karli Evans

Virtual Self. Porter Robinson was atop the EDM podium a few years ago, and though that cachet earned him headline slots at dance music festivals across the globe, he wasn't exactly a critical darling. Make no mistake — the old Porter Robinson probably would have never been invited to perform at III Points; however, with Virtual Self, Robinson has shaken off those EDM cobwebs and delivered a '90s rave revival. The project takes inspiration from videogame soundtracks, trance, and the kind of Eurodance played regularly on Power 96 in the '90s. Robinson kicked off his set with the Virtual Self remix of Deapmash's "Halcyon," which from the start unleashed a cataclysmic light show reminiscent of Jennifer Lopez's visuals for "Waiting for Tonight." He then went straight into "Ghost Voices," the best-known cut off the Virtual Self EP. At the 20-minute mark, the vocoder let the crowd know what it was in for: "You are currently experiencing part one of the Virtual Self live system: Pathselector." It's often said DJs take listeners on a journey, and it's especially true with Robinson, inviting everyone to dive into his virtual world where the '90s never died. — Jose D. Duran

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