Looks can sometimes be deceiving. For music festivals, a lineup poster comes out, culinary partnerships are revealed, and art installations are booked, all causing fans to experience FOMO before the event even takes place. But that doesn’t mean that the fest is necessarily going to be good. With something like Coachella or Lollapalooza, you know the festival will achieve a certain level of functionality, that the infrastructure will be sound, the bones sturdy. But smaller fests are more of a gamble, where the lineup and amenities are just one aspect of creating a good time. In a sense, they have to stick the landing.
In its sixth installment and first as a spring event, Miami’s III Points has previously survived hurricane threats and headliner cancelations, only to emerge more and more impressive-looking from the outside.
As outlined last week, the festival clearly has an identity and put together a bill for 2019 that speaks very much to where music’s most interesting sounds are being created, without ignoring things that actually hold some popularity. With headliners Tyler, The Creator, SZA, and ASAP Rocky and a bill that included Beach House, James Blake, Erykah Badu, and Blood Orange, this wasn’t a mishmash of music with good streaming numbers and major label filler with the right management; this was music that actually formed a coherent thesis. Women were well represented at the top, as were people of color. If 2019 festival lineups were to have a standard bearer, this was it.
But just as great as what was happening on stage was how III Points executed the event. There was the act of getting into the festival, featuring a wealth of lines for speedy entry, only to be transported onto the grounds via a tunnel-of-lights art installation courtesy of Erica Bernhard, all with the III Points logo fixed at the end like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Once onto the main grounds, III Points felt as much like an immersive art exhibition as a festival. Part of this was how compact the place was, a fraction of the size of its bigger peers but with just as much to do and look at. Part of this was the warehouse vibes where each room could create its own aesthetic. And part was just the creativity at the heard of it. Want to sit inside a shipping container and watch private art films courtesy Judy Chicago? No prob. Want to freefall from tall structures onto giant inflatable cushions thanks to Blu vaping products? Sure. Want to spend your time roller skating in an art exhibit? Yup, you can do that here.
It’s one thing to put these options on the table at a festival, but III Points knows its audience and knows that people will be game to participate in something out of the box and a little weird, making for an experience more fulfilling than simply watching musicians perform songs. One installation required attendees to lay down in the middle of the room and look upwards at the ceiling while listening to oppressive droning. It was almost always packed.
III Points offered up the festival essentials (Spicy Pie! A giant mirrorball! Premium VIP viewing!) as well as the ingeniously superfluous (you could literally get a medical marijuana prescription and then buy said medical marijuana at the Green Space), and presented it all seamlessly. One booth boasted psychic readings only to make me wonder why more festivals don’t have such out-of-the-box activations. A little imagination goes a long way, with the average fan caring as much about the experience and vibe as they do about the actual talent. Great booking will get people to a festival once, but a great experience will get them coming back.