Throwing a music festival in Florida is tough work. Despite being one of the most populated states, the peninsula largely resists up-start festivals. Many an event tried and failed to gain footing in Florida: Bang! Music Festival in Miami, Orlando Calling in Orlando, and many others failed to attract enough attention to warrant future events. Some festivals succeeded in withstanding the seemingly anti-festival tide in Florida, notably Ultra, EDC Orlando, and Sunset Music Festival, but those festivals stack their lineups with noticeably radio-friendly headliners.
Then you have III Points, who gives top billing to a three-hour DJ set from forward-thinking electronica producer Nicolas Jaar. III Points, set in the heart of the Wynwood art district in Miami, got its start by booking rare acts that rarely, if ever, make their way down to Florida. The festival began in 2013 as a sort of southern answer to SXSW, with artists like Jamie xx, XXYYXX, and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame playing in venues across Wynwood. This year, III Points hits the Mana Wynwood venue on October 9-11.
Three years later, the festival grows up with a lineup consisting of the very best in the electronic, indie rock, and hip-hop genres and an assortment of activation events highlighting music, art, and technology. Navigating the festival can be daunting, so we’ve created a handy guide to suggest five must-see acts from each day of the festival. Check out our picks below:
Friday, October 9
1. Nicolas Jaar (DJ Set)
Just take a listen to Nicolas Jaar’s Essential Mix if you want to understand how this young producer is changing the game in electronic music. In 2011 he released the seminal album Space Is Only Noise, and then raised the bar by launching the DARKSIDE project with guitarist Dave Harrington. Since touring festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo, DARKSIDE went on hiatus, but Jaar since released a few more EPs and film soundtracks. III Points gave him a three-hour DJ set to celebrate their three-year anniversary, so expect a truly avant-garde set.
2. Neon Indian
The golden age of synth-pop and indie dance is long gone, but Neon Indian found a way to update their music and even take their style to new heights. The band, lead by Alan Palomo, has a new album called VEGA INTL. Night School coming the week following III Points. Expect a set that meshes their synth-pop classics with the livelier tracks from their third LP.
3. Panda Bear
Animal Collective owes much of its success to the psychedelic producer and spacey vocals of member Panda Bear, who also boasts a fruitful solo career. Panda Bear released his new album Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper to rave reviews this year, and he’s bringing his solo tour to III Points for his sole Florida appearance. With Animal Collective returning in 2016, you’d be hard pressed to watch Panda Bear smash the stage with his own music in the near future.
4. Bonobo (DJ Set)
Friday’s unofficial theme is trippy, danceable electronica, and a DJ set from British trip-hop pioneer Bonobo fits right into that mold. Fans expected the producer to take a break after embarking on his exhaustive live tour for his Northern Borders album, but Bonobo’s kept himself busy by playing a myriad of DJ sets. He tends to throw in everything from drum and bass to deep house in his sets, so don’t go in expecting an exclusively downtempo mix.
5. Mano le Tough
An Irish producer and DJ who lives in the heart of Berlin, Mano le Tough knows how to bring a rocking beat. With releases on forward-thinking labels like Life and Death, Aleph Music, and others, Mano le Tough is absolutely one of the most innovative producers on the rise. His 2013 debut album Changing Days exposed new sides to his music, and his follow-up album is due sometime this fall. Time to preview some new originals?
Saturday, October 10
Arguably one of the best acts on the entire lineup, the Belfast-based duo brought house back to the forefront of electronic music this past year. They crafted an excellent Essential Mix in 2014, released a slew of top tier tracks, and put out one of the best mixes of the year with HOT TUB SLAMZ II. They’re basically the modern Daft Punk, just without the fancy robot helmets.
2. Ghostface Killah + DOOM (Live from the Other Side of Time)
Well here’s a hip-hop booking for the ages. Ghostface Killah is one of the most prolific members of the Wu-Tang Clan, and III Points paired him with DOOM, the enigmatic rapper who’s banned from performing in the United States. The two plan to release a collaborative album called DOOMStarks in the future, but we can’t help but wonder how DOOM will ultimately perform these new songs with Ghostface; the “Live from the Other Side of Time” tag serves as our only hint as to how the performance may turn out.
3. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (DJ Set)
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs seems to tour constantly, and we can’t help but always want to see what the British performer has in store for his eclectic DJ sets. He tends to incorporate world music into his sets, a welcome respite from the other subgenres of electronic music, and his ability to sing, produce, and DJ makes him a rare jack-of-all-trades in the music world.
4. Run The Jewels
III Points brought the hip-hop heat this year, and making one of their headliners Run The Jewels was a perfect decision. The collaborative effort between Killer Mike and El-P has resulted in two exceptional albums, and they represent modern music’s best answer to rap duos like Outkast. Run The Jewels also exceed expectations in a live setting, rapping every word (as opposed to resorting to a backing track) and interacting with the crowd to create very memorable performances.
More downtempo, trip-hop fusion for the middle day of the festival. Shlohmo‘s career thus far has captured a variety of sounds, ranging from chill trip-hop with his LP Bad Vibes to dark electronica with his 2015 album Dark Red. He’s even put out a collaborative EP with rising hip-hop artist Jeremih, so expect a genre-defying set from Shlohmo’s performance.
Sunday, October 11
1. Soul Clap
This Boston-native duo certainly brings the soul back to house music, and they’ve even collaborated with some dance music legends since their start in 2011. Soul Clap put out songs with the likes of Sly Stone, Funkadelic, and George Clinton as of late, bringing the funkier side of house music back to the genre. They’ve also got Soul Clap Records under their belt, which houses our next pick for the weekend…
2. Wolf + Lamb
The butter to Soul Clap’s bread, Wolf + Lamb is another house-centric duo that promotes uplifting synths and groovy dancing. They released a collaborative EP with Soul Clap, but since have made a strong name for themselves in the underground scene. Hailing from Brooklyn, it’s no wonder this duo remains so savvy in the house world. Perhaps we will be graced with a b2b set between them and Soul Clap?
3. Jay Electronica
Talk about the best late lineup addition ever. Jay Electronica remains one hip-hop’s most perplexing figures, as this Jay Z-backed rapper has yet to release his highly anticipated album in his 11 years of rapping. He continues to tease the album’s release, but in the meantime his various mixtapes and EPs serve as perfect live accessories. Electronica’s project Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge) is 15 minutes of him rapping over the soundtrack to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and it’s pretty much perfect.
4. Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons
Deep house is going a bit more live this year, and Damian Lazarus is helping make the genre evolve. The owner of influential record label Crosstown Rebels, Damian shocked fans with his latest album Message From The Other Side, which brought world music artists to take on deep house. His show with backing band The Ancient Moons brings this glorious fusion to life, and it stands out as of one of III Points’ best bookings.
5. Corbin FKA Spooky Black & Bobby Raps
Rounding out our list is another mysterious artist, this time a singer who fits into the post-R&B mold. Spooky Black came out of nowhere with his experimental R&B and absolutely manic videos, yet he’s remained fairly elusive as of late. III Points managed to snag him with frequent collaborator Bobby Raps, a rapper who does his fair share in subverting expectations. Expect a deliciously bizarre performance.
III Points tickets are going fast, so if you want a chance to follow our guide, head over to the festival’s website to snag tickets.