The Strokes play III Points Festival 2021 in Miami
A little rain couldn’t wash away the magic that was this weekend’s III Points Festival. The Miami original returned to its home at Mana Wynwood for a triumphant two-night fête that reminded us all how good smiles and dancing can be for the soul.
The sold-out event felt like a giant reunion for the music and art scene as nearly 100 local acts shared space with international headlines The Strokes, Wu-Tang Clan, Rüfüs Du Sol and more. Here were some of our favorite things from Friday and Saturdays get-down.
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A lot has changed since III Points 2019, most notably the festival’s footprint. The festival-space doubled in size, incorporating parts of NW 23 Street and NW 5 Avenue and transforming a few Wynwood blocks into a neon playground of adult fantasy. Techno, house, rock, hip-hop and R&B boomed from 11 stages, each of which created their own mood and environment with designs from local artists and craftspeople. None of the stages were indoors this year, no doubt one of the many COVID-19 precautions, but it was a change we appreciated—even if it did rain for much of Friday evening.
If you were looking for a dry place to dance, the numerous dance music stages offered a few great getaways. Main Frame was moved to the RC Cola plant underhang where Peggy Gou, Zhu and Jamie XX cast sensual sonic spells on thousands of partiers. The space could have held thousands more, but if you couldn’t fit into the Main Frame, the RC Cola megastructure offered top-tier sounds from Eric Prydz, Maceo Plex, Black Coffee and others under its very-spacious covering. Those who had the patience to wait in line were treated to Red Bull drinks and groovy sets from local selectors, and while the S3quenc3 stage wasn’t covered, its Thunderdome jungle-gym style provided definite rave cave vibes for local heroes and traveling talent alike.
We’ve already talked a lot about how III Points puts on for its city, booking a healthy half the lineup with local talent from around south Florida. While those bands and DJs might not draw the same crowd as The Strokes, some of them were placed right there next to them at the Toyota Music Den. Curious listeners could discover the punk rock of Plastic Pinks, the sweet sounds of Maye or the psych moods of Jaialai just a stone’s throw away from Mind Melt.
All that said, a lot of our favorite sets did go down on the Mind Melt stage, starting with the hypnotic feels of Houston-based trio Khruangbin. This group played a small side stage at III Points 2019 and has since evolved into a headline act. We were positively floating to the band’s mostly instrumental moods, and the whole crowd lit up when the band dove into a medley of recognizable covers, including AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets,” and Luniz classic “I Got 5 On It.”
Just as a giant crowd had gathered to see New York City’s finest play the big stage, a torrential downpour crashed upon the city. It was mayhem as folks ran for cover—many of whom opted for the ravey sounds over at Main Frame and RC Cola—but those who waited the extra hour until The Strokes finally did storm the stage were truly blessed. The band ripped right into a rowdy set, starting with “Last Night” and working through hits both classic and new. Singer Julian Cassablancas was appropriately chaotic, and by the end of the set, most people had forgiven their soggy socks.
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There are classic acts, and then there are certified legends. After hosting several solo members on III Points stages throughout the years, the whole Wu-Tang Clan came through to prove why these NYC MCs are considered the kings. This set was a masterclass in MCing as the lifelong friends and collaborators traded bars and shared the spotlight, working through all the fan favorites from Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Wu-Tang Forever, The W and more. Two of O.D.B.’s sons were on stage to rap their father’s lyrics. We even got performances of “Got Your Money” and “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” Every single member was coming through clear and on point, and the Rza dropped little gems of wisdom, asking us all to take care of our elders and come together in unity; a message that’s become all the more important after our chaotic couple of years.
Australian electronic trio Rüfüs Du Sol celebrated the release of its fourth studio album in Miami’s loving embrace. Surrender is a deeply-emotional yet danceable production, and it was matched by a stellar stage-show that came to life in bold colors and exciting technology. The three band mates had everyone singing along to hits “Eyes,” “On My Knees” and “Innerbloom” while a light square dipped and dove around their heads. It was a good Mind Melt closer before everyone shuffled off to rave into the wee hours of Sunday morning, and a great way for Rüfüs to kick off its Surrender tour.
Photography by: Adi Adinayev