For III Points veterans, it can feel like the festival is slowly moving away from alternative and experimental live acts and left-field DJs — especially considering it counts on the support of Insomniac (of Electric Daisy Carnival fame), and its parent company, Live Nation. Still, in 2023, there are several live acts on the lineup to get excited about if you don't vibe with tech-house and EDM.
Alice GlassFew bands in the early 2010s were more exciting than Crystal Castles, whose dark, abrasive electro-pop stylings, anchored by the hot-and-cold, erratic, and thrilling vocals of Alice Glass, sounded like nothing else out there. But after three critically acclaimed albums and hundreds of fan-made Tumblr blogs, the duo's star came crashing down after Glass left the band in 2014 and accused bandmate Ethan Kath of alleged physical and sexual abuse. Glass has continued to make bold alternative pop music since, much of it commenting on her experiences in the old band and providing a platform of solidarity for domestic abuse survivors. Meanwhile, her theatrical, goth-inspired stage presence has attracted collaborators like hyperpop artist Dorian Electra. Her music proves that art can be a weapon or a bandage, sometimes simultaneously.
The DareDid you hear? Indie sleaze is back. You've never heard of it? It's a torpid attempt to squeeze all of the cool, artsy musical micro-trends of the early 2000s — electroclash, dance-punk, garage-rock revival — into one useful Spotify-ready buzzword for the benefit of nostalgia-baited TikTok teens too lazy to crack open a copy of Meet Me in the Bathroom and figure out the distinctions. The Dare comes off as a blatant attempt to capitalize on this trend, so much so that it borders on pastiche, and not even Rolling Stone is falling for it. Harrison Patrick Smith's project smashes all the disparate threads of circa 2003 downtown NYC into a messy, horny, ugly morass of crunchy guitars, raw beats, and screaming about sex, drugs, and more sex like a zennial Austin Powers. It doesn't work at all for those that know better — Smith sounds like a Dimes Square virgin trying to translate "Fuck the Pain Away" with none of the pain and all of the fuck — and it rings especially fraudulent considering today's New York is even more inhospitably upmarket than it was back then. So why should you bother? Because even if it is all cosplay, it's still fun to play pretend.
Explosions in the SkyIII Points is one of the few (perhaps only) Florida music festivals to host avant-garde and experimental acts. Ambient composer Tim Hecker and legendary post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, both hailing from Montreal, played the festival's last pre-pandemic edition in 2019. This year, the festival is bringing another big force in post-rock, the genre known for its long, crescendoing rock compositions and loud-quiet dynamics: Explosions in the Sky. The Austin, Texas, band is not as confrontational, overtly political, or dramatic as its Canadian counterparts, but its wistful, euphoric, guitar-shredding anthems have earned plenty of praise. At III Points, the band is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its definitive album, The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, an influential and important record of the post-9/11 era, by playing it in full.
Iggy PopCan a massive rock star also be considered a local artist? Iggy Pop may be a living legend, but he also lives in Miami. He records his various radio shows here and occasionally visits local restaurants and record stores. Yet an actual sighting of the man, who values his privacy, is so rare that Miamians often treat it as a badge of honor. Well, III Points is giving you the chance to earn that badge. Iggy is headlining the festival on Saturday, giving all of us a chance to finally cross an item off our Miami bucket lists and see him play the hits, from "Lust for Life" to "The Passenger" in all his sun-baked, shirtless glory. (Don't say we didn't warn you.)
JockstrapBecoming equally beloved by pop music writers and esoteric blogs is a tough needle to thread, but London-based duo Jockstrap has pulled it off. Its debut album, I Love You Jennifer B., is alternative pop at its best, combining unexpected, experimental flourishes from producer Taylor Skye and beguiling lyricism from vocalist Georgia Ellery. The single "Greatest Hits" exemplifies their ability to combine their powers to make an absolute bop, with a melody carried by bold piano chords and sensual vocals from Ellery.
TirzahEven for an alternative-pop artist, it takes courage for an artist to release an album where every song is based on the same instrumental. But that's exactly what London's Tirzah did on her latest record, Trip9love???, releasing a full album on top of various edits of a single, Mica Levi-produced trap beat. The project recalls the cherished reggae and dancehall tradition of the riddim tape, where a series of MCs and vocalists perform over the same instrumental. But it's also a remarkable record, its raw 808s contrasting perfectly with the singer's soft, warbling vocals and the tinkling piano melody. It's a far cry from the plaintive lyrics on her beloved debut, Devotion, but it's something only Tirzah could pull off. She plays on Friday.
Unknown Mortal OrchestraHas it really been ten years since "So Good at Being in Trouble" burbled out of college radio playlists nationwide? Unknown Mortal Orchestra's first two records gained attention for their lo-fi production aesthetic, putting the band within spitting distance of chillwave outfits such as Toro y Moi and Washed Out. But even after ditching the gimmick on 2015's Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra remained one of the most resilient bands of its era, putting out record after funky record of smooth, '70s-esque disco and AOR grooves like a millennial take on Steely Dan — except without the obnoxious fandom. The band's latest record, the expansive V, might be its best yet, but, hey, we'll always love "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)."
III Points 2023. Friday, October 20, and Saturday, October 21, at Mana Wynwood, 2217 NW Fifth Ave., Miami; iiipoints.com. Tickets cost $169 to $599 iiipoints.frontgatetickets.com.