If you’re unfamiliar with Miami music festival iii Points, it’s quite singular as far as US-based festivals go. Gates run from 5 pm to 5 am, reminiscent of many EU-based fests, many of the acts identify with the dance music genre, and there’s a heavy emphasis on local and international talent. On paper, this should be the festival that fills the void of the late-night city festivals, like the now-defunct Day for Night (which in all honesty, good riddance), providing us rave-seekers an outlet to work out all this pent-up energy in the knees. But iii Points has been plagued with a slew of issues ranging from hurricanes to artist cancellations via the pandemic (RIP Zenker Brothers and Special Request). Regardless, promoters were dead set on a return to Wynwood in 2021 and they made it happen. It wasn’t all peaches and cream, more on that later, but I would like to think most that made the trek left with smiles on their faces.
The Good – The Music
In my humble opinion, this should be the main reason that anyone attends iii Points. The booking team provides a jaw-dropping curation of genres, house to techno to hip-hop to indie, second to only Coachella for my US dollars. If you don’t particularly care for a highly-detailed set of acts and are just looking to party with your friends, this probably isn’t the fest for you.
The first day was hectic. Rushing into the festival after a poorly-communicated rain delay, I was able to catch the tail end of Vegyn, who put a smile on my sullen face after transitioning a Playboi Carti leak into “Miss the Rage”. After Vegyn came Objekt, who tore down the Main Frame stage with a mix of breakbeats, 909’s, and an unexpected amount of groove. Kelly Lee Owens marked the point in which Main Frame became filled to the brim but managed to keep the crowd moving in the stew of sweat, smoke, and other smelly aromas. Yves Tumor blew my damn mind with a glammy opening of the hits, “Gospel For A New Century”/ ”Jackie”/”Noid”/ etc., before being rudely interrupted by a torrential downpour. However, I don’t think the band and it’s frontperson were too pressed as they almost summoned the rain and reveled in it before being told off by fest coordinators. This rain delay did give me a chance to stumble into a crowd of rollers and trippers dancing violently to local DJ’s, Coffintexts, hammering of breakbeats. Romy gave an unexpected dance party of a mix, fitting in perfectly before Peggy Gou, whose mix was everything and more than I had hoped for. She focused on techno for the Miami audience and kept the pace at 140 for the entirety of her set until crowd favorite and smash-hit “Starry Night” got everyone’s phone up in the air. Jamie XX ended the early-morning with a mix of bass, disco, and soul samples.
Day two was less hectic. I was only able to catch three/four sets: Virgil Abloh, John Tejada, Johnny from Space, and AceMoma. Virgil made the hour and a half time slot worth the price of admission with a full mix of his unreleased “Ibiza (Won’t Be Late)” and a mix of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow”, a unashamed favorite of mine, into Overmono’s “So U Kno” (shout out to those of you keeping up with VM’s weekly playlists). My friends and I couldn’t have asked for a better 1-2-3 punch from the Celebrity DJ. Next was John Tejada on the tucked away Isotropic stage whose techno mix strayed from his more minimal works, but perfectly soundtracked the news that the Braves had made it to the world series. After shotgunning a Stella Artois, I made the short trek to the S3QUENC3 stage, which by the way, was one of the coolest designs for a festival stage I’ve ever seen. Johnny from Space was currently keeping the party going for those who were preparing for my most anticipated and favorite set of the weekend, AceMoma. The New-York based duo did not waste anytime in getting the crowd to go nuts. Track after perfectly-mixed track turned the entire crowd’s clock to zero as a surprised yet over joyous MoMa Ready informed the audience that “We’ve only been playing for 30 minutes!”. The boys just about threw every genre, from house to Drum and Bass to Techno to what sounded like Mario Kart music, that the 4 CDJ’s could handle. To say it was a religious experience would be an understatement and I had to fight off tears at the end of the set. Magical.
The Bad – The Weather
Every festival promoter’s worst nightmare is rain. iii Points has a combative history with rain and 2021 was no exception. And boy, did South Florida have a lot of it to offer Friday evening. Gates were pushed back an hour and a half as faith in the 15-minute Florida shower theory dwindled to nill. No communication from the iii Points staff was sent out to attendees other than a wildly optimistic Instagram story stating “Clear skies ahead!”… yeesh. Once in to the festival the grounds weren’t too muddy as much of the venue was atop of concrete, yet the 5pm acts were unable to perform. As mentioned before, another Yves Tumor summoned storm hit around 11:30 pm, delaying all current sets, sauf pour Coffintexts, and funneling majority of attendees out of the fest or into the cover of the Main Frame (so much for getting close at Peggy Gou). Shoes were soaked, shirts ruined, and illness likely filled the lungs of attendees but unfortunately there’s none to blame other than mother nature. Hopefully, iii Points communication/decision making team learned a thing or two from the fiasco.
The Ugly – $6+ Water
Liquid Death. An incredibly stupid idea to can water that has been slowly gaining popularity within festival bars since 2018. Leading up to the festival, it became apparent there would not be free water stations and to that I ask… why?? Event coordinators should know that it is extremely dangerous to not have immediate access to free water and that waiting in the lengthy bar lines could be detrimental to the well-being of attendees. It would just seem to me that having water stations would be cheaper in the long run-in avoiding potential for lawsuits… profit should not be taking priority over the safety of attendees. Despite the ethical dilemma of no free water, the pricing on the trendy liquid death is abhorrent. $6 for water plus the 18% Miami service charge plus tip adds up quickly when combining it with other drinks/food. I guess there’s an argument to be made for the “Don’t attend the fest if you can’t afford it” but to those critics I’d politely retort “Fuck off”. So yeah, a Liquid Death sponsorship, which I should clarify is not problematic as long as there are alternative free water stations, awards iii Points with the title for “Most Expensive Water Options”. Coachella, you’re up next.
Overall, the good outweighed the bad and ugly at iii Points 2021. I left with memories to cherish for years and a smile on my face. As long the booking team can continue to provide a European-style electronic experience in South Florida, I see no reason why I wouldn’t return to iii Points, hopefully with a deeper wallet next time!