Our III Points Recap: 5 Acts That Blew Us Away
KELSEY LU surpassed our high expectations on Saturday night, delivering a set that expanded greatly on her solo showcase at III Points the year before, this time fleshing her sound out with a full band. Backed by members playing an electric violin and sax among other instruments, it allowed Lu to reveal the full capacity of her vocals, enrapturing the crowd, wrapping them around her heavenly voice like a soft pillow or a hug from a good friend you haven’t seen in years. Lu played a mix of older material from her 2016 Church EP, as well as newer singles like “Shades Of Blue”, effortlessly hitting high notes and showing off a masterful control of her voice. If her performing on the main stage is any sign, 2019 is looking to be a breakout year for the classically trained cellist and all-around crazy talented Lu.
JAMES BLAKE is not exactly a small time artist at this point in his career. Coming off a Grammy win alongside Kendrick Lamar for the Black Panther soundtrack cut “King’s Dead”, Blake was nervous yet eager to have the chance to play out offerings from last month’s album, Assume Form. Performing in his usually sparse setup with two other bandmates who play guitar and drum (samples), respectively, Blake was in fine form (pun definitely intended), playing singles from Assume Form like the Travis Scott-assisted tune “Mile High” and “Where’s The Catch?” which features an always spectacular rap verse from Outkast legend Andre 3000 himself. The rest of the show skewed to older material, playing fan favorites “Retrograde” and “Limit To Your Love”, while also appealing to the club scene of Miami with an extended, dancefloor version of his Overgrown deep cut “Voyeur”. The main complaint from the set was that it was over too soon. With such a rich and rewarding discography, Blake was bound to not play everything we wanted, but ending his set with the atmospheric, bassy beauty of “The Wilhelm Scream” was just about the best possible cherry on top of a fantastic, enthralling set.
KHRUANGBIN means “flying engine” in Thai, and the Houston, Texas 3-piece certainly took off with their unique brand of (mostly) instrumental 70’s rock and funk, with hints of psychedelic pop, soul, and a healthy dose of James Brown-inspired breakbeats. Bassist Laura Lee and guitarist Mark Speer traded solos their entire set, showing off their virtuosity, especially Speer, who at one point played a searing guitar solo with one hand. A majority of their material was from last year’s record Con Todo El Mundo, but was capped off by a fantastic and seamless medley of tunes that transitioned from Spandau Ballet’s “True” to Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” to The Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache”. Khruangbin may be a name that’s hard to pronounce, but it’s easy to see why they are one of the best live acts out there right now.
HERBIE HANCOCK is a legend in the Jazz world, crafting psychedelic opus after opus from the early 60’s and into today. Herbie graced Miami with his presence on Saturday to a crowd that was thankfully receptive to his seemingly improvisational jazz stylings, with Hancock mostly taking keyboard and piano duties, while also serving as de facto MC for the duration of the set. Hancock dipped into the vault early on to play “Watermelon Man” and later encored with “Chameleon”, both from his standout 1973 record Head Hunters. The sheer level of talent across his stellar band was obvious, as many members, including To Pimp A Butterfly super-producer Terrace Martin, often played multiple instruments per song, from synthesizer to sax. Not to be outdone, Hancock whipped out a keytar(!!) for the last song and shredded as the audience roared in approval. Truly something that needed to be seen to be believed.
BLOOD ORANGE is the alias of Dev Hynes, a UK producer, songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. All of those talents were on display during his hour long set on the main stage Sunday evening, weaving together newer songs like “Jewelry” and “Charcoal Baby” from his 2018 record Negro Swan, as well as older, funkier cuts from albums like Cupid Deluxe’s bittersweet “You Were Never Good Enough” and 2016’s percussive Freetown Sound song “Best To You”. Hynes also used these songs as opportunities to let his backup singers take center stage and take the place of the guest vocalists rather than rely on a pre-recorded backing track, which meant a lot. A good number of R&B acts graced the outdoor main stage this weekend, including greats like Erykah Badu and SZA, but Blood Orange’s signature 80’s throwback synth pop performance was a breezy, egoless, unpretentious breath of fresh air.