How the III Points Festival Survived Hurricane Matthew

Miami's fourth annual III Points Music, Art & Technology Festival overcame the challenges of taking place during hurricane weather without having to cancel any day of the event.

By Tracy Block October 18, 2016, 7:15 AM EDT

Photo: Jason Koerner

Against the odds, the fourth annual III Points Music, Art & Technology Festival—held October 7 to 9 at Mana Wynwood in Miami—soldiered on during Hurricane Matthew without canceling a single day of the event. Despite the bad weather, attendance for the festival actually increased from the previous year: According to the event organizers, about 25,000 people were at III Points in 2016—up from the 20,000 who attended the festival in 2015.

Three days prior to opening the main festival grounds, organizers announced that the show would, in fact, go on. Due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew, which was set to hit South Florida on October 6, backup plans were developed in order to ensure the event would continue full-throttle. III Points co-founder Erica Freshman described the resilient stance of the team as the countdown concluded. “We had been planning this festival for the last 360 days. We believed that we had options, and that the show would—and could—safely go on.”

Although Miami was spared the worst of the storm, strong winds and pelting rain still affected the build out of the festival prior to gates opening on October 7. “We couldn't get the tents, the power, the gas for generators, the fencing, the bathrooms, the partial staging and the lighting rigs up until storm passed us,” said Freshman. “Most companies closed on [October 4] and [October 5] to give employees time to prepare for the storm, so deliveries were all massively delayed.” 

Not only were crucial elements of the production threatened by the hurricane, but the scheduling also suffered. Many the festival talent's airplane flights were canceled, and several performances were postponed. Artist transportation coordinator Michelle Granado was tasked with rerouting transportation, and did everything possible to limit cancellations in the lineup.

Reunited electro-punk-dance outfit LCD Soundsystem was set to headline the music festivities on October 7. Although the III Points camp worked around the clock to ensure that LCD Soundsystem would arrive safe and sound, there were uncontrollable factors that caused the group to bow out entirely. “[They] had to cancel due to the size of the touring party and logistics,” Freshman said.

Many ticket-holders expressed their outrage on social networks, although LCD Soundsysten frontman James Murphy assured that the cancellation was necessary. He commented in a Facebook post: “In the end, it wound up being impossible to go and play a show with all the band members, and we're not a band that can play with just [three] of us and an acoustic guitar. I can't even imagine what that would be like. ... Terrible, I assume.” As a consolation, festival organizers gave free admission on October 9 to people who had tickets for October 7.

In addition to interactive activations, festivalgoers enjoyed more than 190 musical performers on six different stages. These acts included Thievery Corporation, Method Man, Redman, M83, Dixon, Dusky, Flight Facilities, Maya Jane Coles, Junior Boys, Cam’ron, Kink, DJ Tennis, DJ Koze, and Chrome Sparks. On October 9, local rap icon Trick Daddy even filled in on short notice when scheduled hip-hop artist Earl Sweatshirt missed his flight. 

Major sponsors at the event—including Stoli, Beck’s, Zignum Mezcal, Fusion, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami—did not waver in their commitment to the festival. Hotel partner East, Miami, remained flexible with accommodations and reservations. 

Even though Freshman said that she and her team had no choice but to facilitate a five-day build out in about 10 hours, the outcome was considered an overall success, and plans are already under way for the 2017 edition of the festival: “When the doors opened and the property came alive, we were united in the magic. The week was definitely the most remarkable, trying, challenging, and rewarding week of my professional life, and I couldn’t be prouder of our team and partners.” 

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