It's been only two weeks since the deadliest mass shooting in American history altered the lives of hundreds of people at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas, but at III Points this weekend — Miami's first major music gathering since the tragedy — the events in Vegas cast only a light shadow. It's both a testament to the power of human resilience in the face of sheer terror, and a sad commentary on how accustomed Americans have become to this uniquely American problem.
The first and only reminder that American music fans are now living in a post-Vegas world came as the hordes of attendees entered the festival. Signs adjacent to the entrances read, "In light of recent situations, we are taking extra security measures. Please be patient." Attendees' bags were thoroughly searched at the main gates, and guests were scanned with handheld metal detectors.
Though security was tight, organizers appeared to avoid reminding attendees of the events in Vegas. Once fans entered the gates, III Points was just as fun, wild, and exciting as in years past. The genres and crowds the two fests cater to are vastly different, but fans attending Route 91 Harvest — only a year younger than III Points — surely expected to enjoy themselves in much the same way.
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In the days leading up to III Points, prospective attendees and performers had Vegas on their minds, but it was already only a minor preoccupation. Valerie Hower, age 38, first attended III Points in 2014 and has been back every year since. "I have never been concerned with safety. I have even attended alone and not felt worried or afraid," she said of past years at III Points. Her thoughts were with the victims and families affected by the Las Vegas massacre, but she said the tragedy did not affect her feelings about this weekend's festival. "My eyes will be aware of my surroundings just like any night out," she said, "but I am not afraid."
Danielle Gunn, age 32, traveled from Orlando to attend III Points. It's been only 16 months since her city was rattled by what was at the time the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Gunn did not lose any friends in the attack, but she was only a few degrees of separation from some of the victims. After Pulse, she said, it took her some time to regain a sense of normalcy. A couple of months after the shooting, she went to see a DJ in Orlando and was nervous. Pulse, she said, "was at the very forefront" of her mind. She said she scoped the room and made an exit plan. Pulse taught her to be more aware of her surroundings, a skill she planned to use in Miami.
III Points vets Deaf Poets returned to the festival this weekend after playing the Mind Melt stage last year. Vegas was on their minds as they came home to rock the S3ctor 3 stage. Nico Espinosa, drummer and co-vocalist in the band, said that as performers, he and bandmate Sean Wouters were deeply affected by the events in Vegas but that the tragedy was not on their minds in relation to III Points. "I don’t think it’s healthy to live in constant fear of the worst happening," Espinosa said. But he also noted that Vegas was not the first recent tragedy to affect the music community. "We could’ve been on that stage in Vegas or Paris during the Eagles of Death Metal concert," he said, adding the events have "inspired us as performers to play harder, louder, and constantly."