This year's III Points is bigger than ever.
This year's III Points is bigger than ever.
Photo by Ian Witlen

III Points Has Four Days to Build a Festival, and Here's How They Do It

The last thing Ross LaBrie needs to be doing on this Tuesday night is giving some reporter a tour of the Mana Wynwood compound. He has three more days until thousands of music-hungry festival-goers will be walking in to witness sets by Nicolas Jaar, Panda Bear, Run the Jewels, AlunaGeorge, King Krule, and more over the course of three days.

LaBrie, however, assures me it's not a problem. "I can use a break from dealing with all the issues that have been going on."

He's carrying a lot of the festival's weight on his shoulders. As the director of production, he has to essentially make sure everything about the venue is ready for the acts and the crowds.

A University of Miami graduate, LaBrie has been doing live music production for a while now. Most recently he worked over at the Adrienne Arsht Center but left last year when III Points started consuming more of his time.

"III Points took over as a big part, and also kind of simultaneously I started working with Bobby McFerrin as his technical director and sound engineer," he says.

See, the lights, speakers, stages, and art installations don't just magically appear there overnight. It takes a whole team of people to put everything together. And while other festivals, like Ultra at Bayfront Park, might start assembling weeks in advance, III Points manages to pull it off in a matter of days.

"Last year, we were only granted access to the venue two days prior to the event," explains LaBrie. "We did that loading in two days. That was obviously very stressful."

This year, LaBrie was afforded the luxury of starting on Monday, giving him four days to put everything together.

"We were lucky this year that we were able to get access to this venue with more time on the front end ... We have effectively four days to get set up — double the time of last year. For me, it's a huge relief, but also we have basically doubled the scale of the production from last year." 

The stage at last year's III Points.
The stage at last year's III Points.
Photo by Ian Witlen

As I'm given a tour of Mana on Tuesday night, things are looking bare and there are a lot of use-your-imagination moments. However, although aware of the daunting task, LaBrie seems confident that it will be ready by Friday when the gates swing open to welcome attendees.

In its third year, III Points has certainly been embraced by the city and is bigger than ever. This year, it's returning to its original home at Mana while keeping the sprawling feel that was introduced last year at Soho Studios. With five stages and art installations at every turn, the festival will definitely feel massive, however, LaBrie insists they are looking to grow slowly and in the right way.

"Looking at some other festivals that we really like and seeing what kind of attendance they have and what kind of vibe it has and what kind of spaces they work in, they have like 10,000 to 12,000 people per day. It seems really nice to us because it still has an intimate feel to it if it's done the right way, but it's also a big opportunity for sponsors."

Without revealing too much (I don't really want to kill the element of surprise), the vibe III Points is going for this year is futuristic with installations that make use of image mapping. A lot of the commissioned pieces will be interactive and serve as the centerpieces for the festival. Much like how Design Build Collective's apocalyptic village served as the festival's central meeting point and chill-out area last year, this year's layout will feature a lot of areas to sprawl out in between sets.

Also, this year III Points is using RFID bracelets instead of wristbands or paper tickets, a popular trend among music festivals nationally. It should make entering the festival a lot easier for everyone.

This year, LaBrie has four days to build a festival.
This year, LaBrie has four days to build a festival.
Photo by Ian Witlen

The entrance, by the way, will be on the western side of Mana at NW Fifth Avenue, and not the traditional entrance near NW Second Avenue.

"We just want people to come here and experience something that they can't experience anywhere else, at least in Miami and hopefully anywhere else in general," says LaBrie. "We think that we're able to create something that is totally unique with our programming and with our aesthetic. Just from a visual and auditory standpoint, we think that we have something different."

And while the crowd gets to enjoy the live performance throughout the week, LaBrie will likely be darting from stage to stage dealing with last-minute issues and making sure technical riders are fulfilled. However, LaBrie says he's just happy seeing everyone enjoy themselves.

"For me, it's seeing a mass amount of people and their reaction to an overall concept and total experience that was not just in my head but in other people's."

III Points. Friday, October 9, through Sunday, October 11, at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-0371; manawynwood.com. Tickets cost $55 to $110 plus fees via squadup.com.

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