The long-awaited group took the stage at 11 p.m. on Friday. To say every other stage was completely empty is only a slight hyperbole. Everyone flocked and swung to the Mind Melt stage to catch an utterly rare performance. Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett were accompanied by a full band and a female choir. Humans aside, the band was joined by their animated primates who led us on a journey via LED screens. Songs of old and new from the group were spread out through the set. It would almost be treasonous not to include “Clint Eastwood” after all.
Truth be told, I was never a die-hard Gorillaz fan. I appreciated their music from afar, but it was never enough for me to dig deeper. But now I can see it. Their production quality is top-notch, from visuals to sound. There is no air of pretension, they genuinely like performing. Halfway through, they switched to an acoustic set and played their more ecliptic tunes, such as “Melancholy Hill,” which featured a movie about the sea and woos of traveling featuring Noodle.
However, there were still more acts to cover and I had to scope out the rest of the desolate festival that was so empty, a tumbleweed could have bounced through. But the show went on and I had to step out to explore the less ‘God-status’ musicians. Anshaw Black is a Cuban-born, Miami-raised DJ who had led the rebellious concertgoers on a journey of vintage, late 1990s techno. The beats were fast and the records, well, vinyl. It was as if I was transported in time to an old warehouse rave, a theme Anshaw was going for and successfully pulled off.
But lets backtrack just a bit. I entered the festival grounds around 9 p.m. on Friday. A slue of hipsters strolled past to guide me to Mana Studio. Upon entering, I heard Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” playing bizarrely through the main stage. I was not in the mood for classic metal and entered the Main Frame stage to catch Barclay Crenshaw. Claude VonStroke‘s alter-ego played some downright psychedelic hip-hop. Perhaps a bit more industrial than Flying Lotus, but keeping with the general sound. Heavy bass and snares encompassed the entire stage as Barclay perfectly bounced from track to track. He ended the set in the most appropriate way possible: “Full Clip” by Gangsstar. Barclay Crenshaw is a jack-of-all-trades and a master of everything hip-hop and house.
The crowds were now starting to relocate to their respected stages after Gorillaz. The Black Madonna took the Main Frame stage and lead the audience through a captivating set of musical diversity. She started with the techno all Miami citizens love: a little latin flare, house rhythm, and downright techno bass. Towards the end however, at a moment’s notice, she raised the BPM for some unexpected, but ever so missed, drum and bass to close out her set. The crowd went wild and rightfully so. The Black Madonna’s taste in music and ability to switch from genre to genre is something unparalleled, something bohemian, something magical.
All that was left for Friday was the king – Richie Hawtin. The set was a bit delayed, but it was okay. We knew something special was brewing. Richie Hawtin’s new Close design is almost entrapped in a cage of equipment of everything you could imagine. A simple kick was heard, perhaps like a time bomb to an explosion of sounds. The bass came next, and then the rush. Richie, like a deranged maestro, was controlling all the equipment. There was never a second of hesitation nor stopping. Half of his body was on the modulars and live equipment, while the other half was towards the DJ gear. Sounds that I didn’t think could have ever been fathomed were created. Richie Hawtin is always a sight to behold but his Close setup is next level. His visual production is out of this world and his ability to manipulate sounds with a simple reverb and delay is one of an acclaimed musician. A musician’s musician, one that even under a legacy status can keep pushing the envelope even further.
Nicolas Jaar played two sets that weekend in a way that only Nicolas Jaar could. It’s a slow progression that is meant to take you through a journey of musical exploration. Everything from ambient sounds to classic American hip-hop vocal loops accompanied the set. Nicolas Jaar took his live set one step further by adding his own vocals over a loop that I would have never discovered elsewhere. He even included a few moments of him playing the sax in front of the packed Mind Melt stage. To anyone that may have missed this set, it is a regret that I would never want. Nicolas Jaar is such a rarity and such a different blend of music, there is no doubt he will go down in history and his legacy will be forever enflamed.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be III Points without checking out some local acts. The Door IV stage was hosted by LinkMiamiRebels on Saturday and delivered heavy techno throughout the day and night. The stage was nestled in a little slice of the festival creating a sweaty and intimate setting. CDJs were sprawled out like clothing at a flea market. Multiple back-to-back sets were splattered throughout the night by Miami’s finest like Bakke, Danyelino, Ms. Mada, Naufer, and Thunderpony. What soon to followed was a lengthy John Talabot, Danny Daze, Jamie XX show at Club Space hosted by yours truly, LinkMiami.
III Points will always have a special place in Miami’s heart. It’s a festival that is meant to engage and make you think differently. Between the art, the intimacy, and the food, you will quick realize this is a festival that is in a different galaxy. III Points sold out this year and left the fans with a nice feeling upon leaving. It is safe to say III Points is now a big fish in a big pond and can hang with the rest of them. Here’s to 2018.