If you're looking for a festival built on passion, look to the south. Miami's III Points Music, Art, and Technology Festival has a team like no other.
“We're in these streets, sweating in the humidity of the summer hustling tickets,” says co-founder and talent booker David Sinopoli. “Tell these f-ing New Yorkers from out of town to come in July and August to push tickets like we do with our sales cycle. Try to push tickets to LCD Soundsystem with f-ing Zika on your head and your back sweat coming down as you rush in your car from meeting to meeting, doing tours in a pavement parking lot. That's real s--t down here. It's a swamp.”
He says it with intensity, but there's also a smile. Sinopoli and his partner Erica Freshman are longtime Miami party people who relish the blood, sweat, and tears they've poured into this, their opus. Anyone who knows them knows the festival idea was a long time coming, and now, five years into it being a reality, III Points has become a nationally-renown brand.
This year's lineup is enviable for a festival of any size. Gorillaz have been announced to headline the event, Oct 13 to 15, back in April. Yesterday, it came out that The xx would join them. Today, Billboard Dance exclusively announces the full-lineup, featuring performances live by Nicolas Jaar, Bonobo, Richie Hawtin, Kaytranada, Skepta and more.
For Miami's geographically challenged community, first-time act Gorillaz, second-timers The xx, and the North American debut of Brian Eno's exploration of space and sound The Ship are monumental gets.
“Me and Erica's driving force when it comes to headliners is to really extend that offer to these acts that have never been to Miami and continue to push to give the city what they want, which is for these people just to play here,” Sinopoli says.
The team thanks its lucky stars that last year's close-call wit Hurricane Matthew, and a subsequent cancellation by last year's biggest headliner LCD Soundsystem, didn't destroy its chances at a fifth year.
“It tested all of our dedication to the cause of what III Points is,” Sinopoli says. “All of our passions to this project run really deep as far as our team and our partnership. It really put that on a test, and it almost felt like a weird rite of passage for us to get to this next level.”
“It didn't feel like that at the time,” Freshman laughs, “but it was a lot of perseverance. A lot of really great team work.”
As talent booker for Bardot, Sinopoli spent years building relationships with artists, managers, and agencies in order to land some of the more elusive alternative acts in music. He's also one of the new owners of downtown Miami's legendary Club Space -- which is to say, those relationships are only getting stronger.
“A lot of times, we only tout the artists that commit to the festival, but it's actually the agents and the managers that believe in this concept and make it happen on the routing,” Sinopoli says. “There's a lot of big players at the music industry that have made us their pet project and believe in the vision and long-term investment that if Miami's given these acts and this culture, it will only grow for the whole industry.”
It's a treat for the loyalists who've supported the festival year in and out, of which there are many. III Points gives Miami a second identity, outside of the South Beach, “Vegas by the Sea” reputation that haunted its alternative crowd for so many years.
That shift was central to III Points' inception, and five years later, it's come close to succeeding. In tandem with the work of other local promoters like Poplife, Safe, Pl0t, and Link / Miami Rebels (also Club Space co-owners), Miami has truly transformed itself into a hotbed of underground activity. Bookings that may seem commonplace in markets like New York or Los Angeles are fought for tooth and nail by the dedicated promoters, and the super-fans, that put their money and reputations on the line to bring new sounds and emerging artists to Miami's shore. III Points has been a large-scale proof of concept that, yes, Miami does want to hear different music, and they will buy tickets and fill rooms for the right opportunity.
“We try to be a cutting edge festival, but you have to stay in front of things,” Sinopoli says. “To stay in front of things, you actually have to grow. You can't just pop up the same five tents and five stages and call it III Points. You have to actually morph with what's going around in our environment.”
Music isn't the only focus of III Points, however. Art and Technology must also play a large part in the festival's evolving environment. Last year saw a push toward large-scale installations with the Sunsets @ Noon Vaporwave Mall from local artist Aileen Quintana. There was also the joint effort between NASA, Fusion and III Points' technology director Julian Reyes to create and debut the immersive Mars 2030 VR experience. This year, the promoters promise Reyes has something even wilder up his sleeve.
Richie Hawtin will bring his mind-expanding new live presentation Close, which debuted this year at Coachella, and sees the live techno legend surrounded by cameras which give the crowd a wild, up-“close” and personal view of the artist at work. III Points will also see the North American debut of Brian Eno's sound installation The Ship, a living installation that places a series of speakers in different points of the room to create, an interactive aural experience which changes dependent on the space in which it lives.
“It's really incredible if we as a festival can grow more past set time,” Sinopoli says. “If the viewer can have a living installation, have their own experience, and go into the head, or the mind, or the heart, or the soul of the artist and see if from within as opposed to viewing it from without, I think it takes it a little deeper. They're having a more intimate involvement with the artist as opposed to just watching them on a stage.”
The III Points team hopes Brian Eno's installation The Ship can be a point of inspiration to artists that headline the festival moving forward to try their own hand at a large-scale art piece that moves beyond the standard hour to two-hour slot time – and that said artists would feel comfortable giving III Points that opportunity to handle such interesting works.
“There are so many f-ing festivals out there,” Sinopoli says, “We have to keep thinking of other experiences for music lovers to go and be impacted. They're seeking more at festivals, they're not seeking the same s--t anymore... It means thinking about another layer of the transcendent experience."
“It doesn't have to pyrotechnics and fireworks,” Freshman says. “For us, it's a little bit different ... That's part of the fun part, for me at least. You look at the same blank canvas, but how do you look at it and make it feel different? We're not the kind of festival that puts a stage up and some sound and calls it a festival. We really care about how each ounce of that ground feels and looks, and what the experience is at each moment that you turn around.”
At its heart, III Points is a festival about interconnectivity. It's about exploring the relationship between music, art, and technology; how each field interacts and influences the others. It's about the intersection of a community with its regional neighbors and how it fits into the national and international scenes. It's about finding the spaces in between the obvious where beautiful oddities inspire growth.
“It's connectivity to the people and to the artist and to our own staff,” Sinopoli says. “I think people feel when they come into the festival that it's a family, a tight-knit, small team that's putting on a very boutique but very impactful festival for the people that choose to go.”
Check the full III Points lineup below, and visit the festival online for tickets and more information.