Music Festivals

III Points 2021 Day One: The Strokes, Khruangbin, and Peggy Gou Help Dry Off the Crowds

The Strokes made the crowd gathered at III Points forget they'd been soaked through by the sudden downpour. See more photos from III Points 2021 day one here.
The Strokes made the crowd gathered at III Points forget they'd been soaked through by the sudden downpour. See more photos from III Points 2021 day one here. Photo by Karli Evans
Last night, around 11:45, Mother Nature decided that Miami hadn't received enough rain. With little warning, a sudden downpour had everyone at III Points scrambling for cover. But trying to stay dry was an exercise in futility. The storm began just as the Strokes were about to take the stage, pushing their set back by about an hour.

Still, that wasn't anything III Points could control. It was surprising that the festival opened relatively smoothly, considering all the last-minute preparations had to be executed during an exceptionally rainy day.

The afternoon rain didn't let up until around 7 p.m., which is perhaps why that was the worst time to try to enter the festival. General admission lines were long and slow and probably could have used more barricades to guide festivalgoers. But once you entered the compound, which stretched from the RC Cola Factory all the way to Mana Wynwood, your mind quickly snapped into party mode.

III Points is massive this year, with stages sprawling in all directions. Owing to the construction in Mana's indoor spaces, all the performances are taking place outdoors — it's a welcome change. The festival had perhaps grown too big for the confines of a warehouse, and staging everything outside made it easier to traverse the grounds.


And despite the rain delay, Friday night was full of outstanding performances. Here are a few of the highlights from the first day of III Points 2021.

Khruangbin

Texan trio Khruangbin might have been tailor-made for the music festival circuit. The band's music blends psych-rock, funk, and dub that seem to match the hazy atmosphere. When the trio took the Mind Melt stage, it seemed for a moment the black clouds that hung over the city for the entire day would allow for a dry evening. (An hour later, the skies would rip open, squashing such optimism.) The trio performed fan favorites like "People Everywhere (Still Alive)" and "So We Won't Forget," along with several medleys that included riffs on AC/DC's "Black in Black," Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets," and Dick Dale's "Misirlou." While all the members contribute to scant vocals during performances, Laura Lee's delivery in particular stands out, soft enough to glide over the melodies yet strong enough to grab the listener. Jose D. Duran

Yves Tumor & Its Band

It would be easy to qualify Yves Tumor as "experimental," but their songs are pretty conventional in the best way possible. They seem to grab inspiration from acts like Prince and Grace Jones, both musically and in their stage presence. At the Sector 3 stage, Yves Tumor slinked across the stage with such skill, kicking off the show with "Gospel for a New Century" and "Romanticist." Unfortunately, amid the set, the skies opened up, pausing and delaying every performance at the festival. New Times went in search of cover to no avail, and it's unsure if Yves Tumor was able to complete their show, but the few songs the artist was able to get through made it worth walking in soaked sneakers for the rest of the night. Jose D. Duran
click to enlarge The Strokes' Julian Casablancas. See more photos from III Points 2021 day one here. - PHOTO BY KARLI EVANS
The Strokes' Julian Casablancas. See more photos from III Points 2021 day one here.
Photo by Karli Evans

The Strokes

With an hour delay, a soaked crowd, and blue tarps over the band's equipment, it did seem like the dream of seeing the Strokes perform live was dead. However, it wouldn't be III Points without some Miami perseverance, and the Magic City finally got a taste of the New York City band. "Hard to Explain" kicked off the set and instantly gave way to early 2000s nostalgia. The audience danced and shook off the rain while singing along to every song. What came next was a slew of classics from the Strokes' nearly 25-year discography. The band managed to play hits from its debut album, Is This It, to those signature chord progressions of "Reptilia" off Room On Fire. The Strokes also threw in songs off their latest album, The New Abnormal. Frontman Julian Casablancas carried the show with his droopy vocals and persona while guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr., shredded the humming-inducing rifts we all know and love. Casablancas delivered odd shtick, rambles, and philosophies between songs that left more questions than answers. Still, the speedy visuals and a familiar drum pattern from Fabrizio Moretti would ring out  and all would be forgotten. It's hard to say the rain brought any poetic justice or symbolism — but wet clothes are temporary; the Strokes are forever. Grant Albert
click to enlarge Maceo Plex entrances the III Points crowd. See more photos from III Points 2021 day one here. - PHOTO BY KARLI EVANS
Maceo Plex entrances the III Points crowd. See more photos from III Points 2021 day one here.
Photo by Karli Evans

Maceo Plex

The result of Maceo Plex's III Points set was a triumph of the festival ethos of sonic risk-taking and the DJ's malleable style. The Texas-born, Miami-reared producer delivered thick bass and his signature brand of electronic mysticism, providing starry-eyed ravers who haven't had a festival to call home in quite some time a bonafide dance floor. Plex's weapon of choice, the Pioneer DJ RMX-1000, brought buildups to soaring crescendos as the drum patterns looped closer and closer until euphoric drops entranced the crowd amid dizzying lights and visuals. Curiously enough, in the last 30 minutes, Maceo Plex dropped a couple of trap-inspired tracks into his otherwise techno-centric set. Some scratched their heads while others danced in their own universes. But bold risks are what made Maceo Plex the legend he is today. Grant Albert

Peggy Gou

Korean-born, Berlin-based producer Peggy Gou might be one of the most in-demand DJs right now. That was evident during her set at the Main Frame stage, which was so packed that it was impossible to dance. That was a shame, because as hard as Gou throws it down, you can't help to want to flail your body in whatever way the beat commands you. Not that the crowd seemed to care. Everyone swayed to Gou's house-meets-techno-meets-whatever-she-feels-like sonic delivery. Gou could have performed on the bigger Mind Melt stage and the crowd still would have been massive. With a devout following and killer ability behind the decks, Gou has proven time and time again to be a draw. She's more than earned her headliner spot in this year's lineup. Jose D. Duran
click to enlarge Acid Pauli channeled his old-school Berlin days. See more photos from III Points 2021 day one here. - PHOTO BY KARLI EVANS
Acid Pauli channeled his old-school Berlin days. See more photos from III Points 2021 day one here.
Photo by Karli Evans

Acid Pauli

The electronic guru was in his element amid Isotropic's simple landscape. A few trees along the grassy dance floor and a wooden structure for a stage were all it took for the German DJ to hypnotize the crowds. A tall, deadpan German man wearing a black tank top does not fit the form for a dude named Acid Pauli, but his track selection begs to differ. Acid Pauli took a different route from his usual gentler, house sounds and channeled his old-school Berlin days — often mixing elements of minimal techno with tracks that felt suitable for any underground rave. Ambient sounds scaled from foreground to background and intertwined with steadfast bass and hissing hi-hats as Acid Pauli smoothly mixed from beat to beat. At times, Acid Pauli seemed hidden behind the decks — and maybe that was the plan all along: acting as a conduit to deliver mesmerizing, voiceless techno to a hungry crowd without uttering a word. Grant Albert
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Grant Albert is a writer born and raised in Miami. He likes basset hounds, techno, and rock climbing — in that order.
Contact: Grant Albert
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