If you’ve been following the festival since its inception in 2013, you can’t help but marvel at how far it’s come. That first edition was chaotically assembled in mere months; looking out over the crowd that had gathered for Rüfüs Du Sol last night, New Times couldn’t help wondering, Are we witnessing III Points coming into its own?
Even with delays that saw the festival date pushed back several times, 2021 will go down as a year of transition for the festival, one that could see it return next year as Miami’s premier music event. While the crowd consisted mainly of South Floridians, there seemed to be a lot of people who traveled here for the event.
III Points is quickly approaching a crossroads where it will have to decide what kind of festival it wants to be. From where we stand, the best path would be to continue to be a genre-defying event designed to have touring and local acts share the stage. That’s what has made the festival special — why mess with a winning formula?
The future aside, Saturday brought plenty of highlights, with the rain staying at bay until the early morning. Here are some of the performances New Times caught on day two of III Points 2021.
British rapper Slowthai took over the Main Frame stage at 9 p.m., asking the crowd, “Are you ready to get fucked?” and immediately launched into “Enemy.” The 26-year-old’s style is aggressive and influenced by U.K. grime and punk. That was evident from the get-go, even if the sound mix during the first few songs seemed a bit off. During “Cancelled,” Slowthai proudly proclaimed, “How you gonna cancel me?/Twenty awards on the mantelpiece/Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.” But it was during his performances of the Denzel Curry-featuring cut “Psycho” and “Mazza” that the Miami crowd lost its shit. Imported rap still feels like it’s treated as a novelty in the U.S., but rappers like Slowthai demonstrate that the genre’s influence has transcended America’s borders. Jose D. Duran
Seeing Thundercat perform brings comfort to the listener’s soul — it’s like putting on an old sweater. Throughout an hour-plus, Stephen Lee Bruner (AKA Thundercat) plucked at his six-string bass and sang out his falsetto — demolishing the cliché that the bass player can’t be the star of the show. Bruner played his contemporary funk-fortified songs and gave way to free-range jazz improvisations — a welcome break from beat matching or cataloging. Thundercat’s acid jazz and ’70s funk-inspired solos, combined with his animated demeanor, birthed jazzy sounds that sounded like they were filtered through late-night Adult Swim marathons. The music somehow managed to be slow and respectful while simultaneously frantic and Atari-sounding. Toward the end, the jazz, funk, and soul morphed into ’80s synth-pop melodies with Bruner’s “Funny Thing.” Thundercat closed with “Them Changes,” thanked his bandmates and the crowd, and walked offstage like an old friend heading out of town. Grant Albert
If Khruangbin was Friday’s tailor-made music festival outfit, Saturday’s best example was Washed Out, which pulled what may have been the largest crowd to gather at the Sector 3 stage. Led by Ernest Greene, the band quickly set a dreamy, serene tone as projections of waves crashing played in the background. The set included performances of cuts like “Reckless Desires” and “Feel It All Around,” but the revelation of the night was “Get Lost,” wherein the graphics declared, “Take a hit and get lost.” The crowd seemed to agree as they let Greene whisk them away, probably to a place where the pandemic never happened. Washed Out’s entire set seemed by design to warm up the crowd with the band’s signature lo-fi numbers and a slow build before delving into dancier electronic numbers. Jose D. Duran
The mere presence of the Wu-Tang Clan is enough to ensure historical whiplash as the group bounces though its classics. Wu-Tang properly kicked it off with album one, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), track one, “Bring da Ruckus.” Ghostface Killa spat first and taught the audience how a proper flow is accomplished. The crowd, draped in Wu-Tang memorabilia regardless of attendees’ age, rapped every lyric. Hands went from side to side, heads bopped up and down. “C.R.E.A.M.” brought the madness while Wu-Tang cleverly rapped the first verse to “Can It Be All So Simple” and then brought back verse two later on when everyone least expected the slower rhythm to return. Out of respect to fallen member Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the LEDs displayed a photo of ODB as the just-past full moon glowed down from above. ODB’s son, Young Dirty Bastard, swept the floor with the group’s gritty Staten Island flow. Wu-Tang remains a permanent fixture, and it’s pretty obvious why: Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing ta…well, you know the rest. Grant Albert
With every corridor stuffed with bass-starved festival folk wanting to witness the DJ/producer Zhu bless the decks, you had to bite to bullet, engage your core, and not move a literal muscle if you wanted to catch a glimpse. The crowd’s collective sweat thickened to maple-syrup consistency, but any signs of discomfort evaporated as the San Fransico DJ spun grinding bass mixed with sugarcoated vocals. Zhu’s ability to add textures that flirt between dreamy EDM-style overtures and deeper rhythm creates open space, at least sonically, in even the stuffiest environs. At one point, the DJ brought in beefy synth stabs and a thunderous drum pattern that somehow transitioned effortlessly to a fixating melody — as if it was just another night for Zhu. The crowd for his Main Frame set made a tin of anchovies seem roomy by comparison, yet Zhu’s ethereal elements gave the illusion of openness — a theme that never left the set. Grant Albert
Rüfüs Du Sol
Aussie trio Rüfüs Du Sol undoubtedly won for best attendance during its performance on the Mind Melt stage. The crowd nearly filled the entire Mana compound, adding to the feeling that the festival’s true headliner had arrived. Fresh off the release of its latest album, Surrender, Rüfüs Du Sol delivered a set that balanced the band’s newer material with plenty of fan favorites sprinkled throughout. The trio walked onto the stage and waved to the crowd before climbing onto three platforms that held all their gear. A stretched-out intro kicked things off, followed by the crowd pleaser “Eyes.” The stage was illuminated in a cornucopia of LED panels and lights, providing a glimpse of the audiovisual mayhem yet to come. Fine performances of “You Were Right” and “Devotion” followed, but “On My Knees” stood out as a highlight. The stage turned menacingly red as lead singer Tyrone Lindqvist climbed down from his perch. “Looks like I’m on my knees again/Feels like the walls are closing,” he sang in a manner reminiscent of Trent Reznor at his poppiest. Rüfüs Du Sol’s performance was easily the standout of the weekend — shockingly overshadowing other headliners like the Strokes and Wu-Tang. Jose D. Duran
III Points’ dance-music offerings tend to land in the house and techno categories, so it was refreshing to walk to the Main Frame stage and hear Haitian-Canadian producer Kaytranada blend in R&B and funk and give everyone a break from the constant thumping bass. As with Gou on opening night, it was impossible to catch Kaytranada if you failed to arrive early. The bodies spilled out into the area leading to the RC Cola stage, but that didn’t seem to dull the excitement, so adept is Kaytranada at building the energy, only to release it in unexpected ways. Even those who were weary from being on their feet all day couldn’t help but dance — even if it was just to keep the inevitable festival-borne physical pain at bay. Jose D. Duran
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