A lengthy seven-year hiatus did not stop British virtual band Gorillaz from resurfacing with a bang. Monday, April 17th the band announced an impressive string of 17 tour dates, boasting several headlining slots at acclaimed festivals. In a major announcement, which resulted in resounding exaltation, it was revealed that one of these festivals would be Miami’s very own III Points Festival. With an emphasis on novel and pioneering creators, III Points is the quintessential fit for Gorillaz.
The tour will promote the release of Gorillaz’ fifth studio album, Humanz, out April 28th. Seemingly a paradox to the album’s title, the group – devised by musician Damon Albarn and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett – is comprised of Albarn himself and four animated members: 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs. Conceived in 1998, Gorillaz remains the most recognized and successful virtual band in the world. The lives of the band’s avatars have been developed through their music videos, short cartoon clips and musical pieces. Gorillaz’ ambition of pushing boundaries through cutting-edge technology has continued to dazzle fans, a difficult feat in such rapidly developing times.
The ensemble’s 2017 revival has displayed an impressive array of the latest technology, with special attention on virtual reality. Still in its early stages and a very experimental concept, virtual reality is the moving force behind Gorillaz’ short film for their recently released track, “Saturnz Barz.” The 360 degree, user-controlled, virtual reality video takes listeners on a mystical and eccentric tour of a haunted house and, later, through space. The masterpiece was created and directed by Hewlett and has already set the record for most successful debut of a virtual reality music video on YouTube. The film also features clippings from three new Gorillaz’ songs that have already been released and will appear on Humanz.
III Points is known for its unique fusion of music, art and technology. The three-day festival loyally delivers a lineup of new wave talent, grandiose art installations and astonishing technological exhibits. Past years have included performances by Jamie xx, Flying Lotus, Chet Faker, Cashmere Cat and M83. No matter the genre – alternative, EDM, hip-hop or dream pop – III Points artists bring sets immersed with innovation, from their musical composition to their stage production.
The visual element of Gorillaz’ performance is open to a wide scope of possibilities. The animated and virtual nature of the band has manifested in various forms over the years. At times, Gorillaz has performed in the typical band fashion, with singer Damon Albarn and a supporting band. In other instances, the show has been dominated by the animated projections of 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs synchronized to the music, alongside Albarn. The virtual characters have even appeared on stage as holograms during a performance with Madonna. In light of Gorillaz’ recent virtual reality expo, the possibility of audience-centered virtual reality may even be afoot. Despite the impressive sets of past performers and the ambiguity of this upcoming show, something tells us that this performance will be unparalleled.
What is positive, however, is that Gorillaz’ 17-stop tour will include appearances by a slew of hot artists that are featured on Humanz. Among these featured artists are Jehnny Beth (of Savages), De La Soul, D.R.A.M., Vince Staples, and Pusha T. Having only performed 58 shows in their history as a band – and never before in Florida – Gorillaz will most definitely put on a legendary, multidimensional show for III Points Festival attendees. It will surely be a musical experience like none other.
III Points Festival will be held October 13-15 at Mana Wynwood in Miami. Beginning April 21st, a very limited number of pre-sale tickets will be available at iiipoints.com prior to the release of III Point’s full lineup later in May.
Though October may seem a long time away from the release of Gorillaz’ Humanz in April, this wait will give you plenty of time to learn every beat, riff, harmony and lyric of the 26-track album.
Teddy Willson is a freshman majoring in journalism and minoring in music business and entertainment industries with an obsession for Nutella, Pinterest and late night jam sessions.