III Points Festival

III Points 2019 Winners and Losers

Photo by Adinayev / Courtesy of III Points
That's a wrap on the sixth edition of III Points. So was the 16-month wait worth it? In short, yes. The new February date proved to be a smart move. Temperatures were much milder, and any worry that the festival would suffer crowd shortages during the busy Presidents' Day weekend proved to be unwarranted.

The extra time also seemed to give organizers plenty to consider, from stage layouts to smaller details such as stage signage and traffic flow. Is there still room for improvement? Of course. Any event that doesn't take note of its shortcomings is doomed to failure.

So, in that spirit, here's some positive feedback and constructive criticism based on New Times' observations over the three days of the fest.

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Herbie Hancock
Photo by Nick L. / Courtesy of III Points
Diverse lineup. Most festivals don’t survive after a hiatus. But III Points proved to be the exception to the rule. Not only did it return as planned, but it also came back better than ever. Among its improvements was an even more diverse musical lineup. III Points has always booked artists across the vast spectrum of electronic music; rock and hip-hop have maintained a major presence; and R&B artists have been included to a lesser degree. But with this year’s lineup, III Points widened its tent without losing its identity. Herbie Hancock was among the biggest surprises this year, and his performance was enthusiastically received by crowds that might not otherwise have seen him live. His stage — Mind Melt — boasted the most varied selection of artists, with Erykah Badu, Kelsey Lu, and Blood Orange ensuring that R&B finally got its due time at III Points. Beach House’s dream pop and strong performances by local bands such as Jaialai and Haute Tension meant that, once again, guitars were not forgotten at III Points. — Celia Almeida
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Peggy Gou
Photo by Daniel Zuliani / Courtesy of III Points
5 a.m. closing time. Sure, not every attendee will stay until almost dawn, but in a city as notoriously nocturnal as Miami, the fact that the festival runs till 5 a.m. gives festival-goers plenty of options. On Saturday, you could’ve called it a night after James Blake. Or you could have stayed rolling past 1 a.m. to take in James Murphy’s incredible DJ set. Combine the 5 a.m. closing time with the excellent location and something-for-everyone lineup, and III Points might be able to claim the title of most convenient festival. — Doug Markowitz
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Photo by Adinayev / Courtesy of III Points
Good vibes. Especially for a Miami crowd, III Points guests were impressively mature, polite, and attentive, leaving any aggression or sloppiness to the chaos of Wynwood outside the festival gates. Several excuse-me's and thank-yous were overheard from crew leaders shepherding their lambs through packed crowds. I didn't witness any arguments or physical altercations, nor did I catch any predatory creep vibes being given off or received. It's a sign of a proper music festival when its attendees' number one priority is maximizing the feel-good vibes and leaving the drama at home. — Falyn Freyman
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Will the RFID bracelets one day be used to make payments?
Photo by Adinayev / Courtesy of III Points
Cashless transactions. Why are music festivals still forcing their guests to use cash — or even plastic cards? III Points made a clear effort to ensure that mobile services such as Apple Pay were widely accepted in addition to the traditional methods. This made for speedy ordering, keeping wait times to a minimum. The festival could definitely take the cashless aspect further and allow attendees to use their RFID admission bracelets for purchases. However, for now, it's good enough that festivalgoers have the option to leave their cash and cards at home. — Jose D. Duran
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Photo by Adinayev / Courtesy of III Points
The experiences. From the moment guests entered the festival grounds through Erica Bernhard's Tides installation (a tunnel-like entryway that clicked and lit up as they traversed it), they knew they were in for a treat. III Points has also made a consistent effort to be about more than just the music. But where some see a Ferris wheel as an experience, Miami's emerging fest sees art as a way to engage with festival-goers in a meaningful way. AVAF's Ángeles Veloces Arcanos Fugaces, which appeared at the Faena Forum last year, reemerged at the festival in the Skate Space area, while Red Bull installed a pop-up bar inside a decommissioned Gravitron amusement ride. However, the Aether installation by Max Cooper and Architecture Social Club in the Heineken Art Haus area stole the show, leaving crowds in awe whenever it was running. — Jose D. Duran

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Photo by mkbruix / Courtesy of III Points
Bathrooms. New Times has often praised III Points for being the most consciously inclusive festival in South Florida. The fest has the best track record among its competitors for booking women, trans, queer, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming artists. And the teams working throughout the festival are equally diverse. But by offering only men's and women's restrooms on the festival grounds, III Points is not serving its queer artists, fans, and employees as best as it can. Queer attendees who don’t feel comfortable or safe entering binary bathrooms should not be relegated to using porta-potties. Next time, III Points should slap a unisex sticker on some of the bathrooms to give guests more options. — Celia Almeida
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Photo by Adinayev / Courtesy of III Points
People nearly passing out. During the festival's three days, I witnessed three incidents of people in the crowd nearly passing out. III Points took place at night, offered partial air-conditioning, and boasted mild weather, yet there are still guests who found themselves in dangerous situations when they began losing consciousness in the middle of a packed crowd in a dark, loud room. Luckily, each incident resulted in relatively fast responses from nearby attendees, and each time, the limp-bodied person came to after being given some space for air and water. Organizers should explore solutions such as installing free refillable-water stations throughout the festival to help stave off dehydration, one of the prime culprits of festival casualties. — Falyn Freyman
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ASAP Rocky
Photo by Karli Evans
Scheduling issues. Music fans are used to rappers and R&B singers showing up late for their sets, but Sunday really took the cake. Notoriously difficult performer Erykah Badu was 40 minutes late, and headliner ASAP Rocky, originally set for 11:30, took the stage about 20 minutes after midnight. Also, Friday-night time changes at the Isotropic stage made things confusing because sets were pushed up two hours. — Doug Markowitz
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Courtesy of III Points
Drink prices. It will be a cold day in Hell when I'm OK with a double costing $29.28 (including tax and tip). Worse was that the signage was unclear about the price, which was listed as $18. Even with tax and tip, that doesn't total $29.28. When I pointed out this fact to the bartender, she gave me a convoluted explanation. It's completely fair for drink prices at a festival to be high. For one, there's a captive audience that doesn't have any other option. Second, drink prices shouldn't be so low that crowds overimbibe to the point that hordes of drunk people become a security issue. However, vendors owe it to their patrons to be clear about the price before they order.  — Jose D. Duran
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Celia Almeida is the digital editor of American Way and the former arts and music editor of Miami New Times. Her writing has been featured in Venice, Paper, and Billboard; and she co-hosts Too Much Love on Jolt Radio.
Contact: Celia Almeida
Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran
Falyn Freyman is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Miami.
Contact: Falyn Freyman
Douglas Markowitz is a former music and arts editorial intern for Miami New Times. Born and raised in South Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before earning a bachelor's in communications from University of North Florida. He writes freelance about music, art, film, and other subjects.