A rundown of the festival by Music Director Carolyn Droke and Programming Director Paul Quinn.
Mamby on the Beach 2018 brought great music and fun activities to the Oakwood Beach. Walking into the festival, you could already tell you were in for a great day. A colorful archway marked the entrance to the festival. Walking in, there was a mini-stage, art sculptures, and tents covered in tapestries offering tarot-card readings and henna tattoos. Mamby had three stages. The first was on the actual beach lining the Lake with the Chicago skyline hovering in the background. The second stage was tented and mainly dominated by EDM and house music. We got the chance to catch a couple of DJ sets and I was blown away, although I should have expected good house music considering I was in it’s birthplace. The third stage was on the grass, which slowly began to turn to brown mush as the day passed, conditioning us for what we knew we will eventually endure at Riot Fest. Not only was there music, but there were games and other things to do. They had two full volleyball courts set out on the beach, along with a jumbo-sized version of Connect Four. There was a spot that held yoga classes. One booth brough adoptable rescue dogs to hang out and get pet by passersby. I think those dogs had the best time out of anyone who went Mamby that weekend. Another booth was offering “free advice” to anyone who sought it. One of my favorite areas was the silent disco. They had rotating DJ’s performing live at the disco all day. The artist who performed on the main stages were diverse in genre and all great to see live. Mamby has something for everyone. After two days and a lot of new sunburns, I can definitely say I hope to come back next year, but just as long as I remember to take advantage of Mamby’s free shuttle to the CTA.
Joseph Chilliams was our first set that we saw at Mamby this weekend, and what a way to kick things off. In a Paramore shirt, Joseph featured songs from his latest project: The Plastics. The Plastics is a concept EP dedicated to the movie Mean Girls. Nearing the end of his set, he brought out his brother and one of his best friends Saba. Joseph Chilliams closed his set with a tribute to Fergie, and played his take on Fergalicious (with a shout out to Fergie). Check out our interview with him here.
We got the hook up and experienced Cupcakke’s sexy set from the VIP lounge at the park stage. A Chicago-native rapper, Cupcakke played a lot off of her latest (and Pitchfork acclaimed “Best New Music) album Ephorize. From being a church poet, to a sex-positive rapper, Cupcakke got the crowd at Mamby HEATED in addition to the warm sunny weather. Her set began with her warning the crowd, “if there are in virgins in here, get the f**k out,” and ended with her making a comment “because we’re all adults here” of what she was about to do offstage after her set.
Merrill Garbus, lead singer of Tune-Yards unique voice drew in a large crowd of people jumping around to her upbeat tunes. She stood in front of a soundboard and got the crowd to sing along with her and she banged her drum pad. They played several of their hits, including “Water Fountain.” They also performed several of songs off their new album, but their mics were cut off halfway through the opening track “Heart Attack” due to limited time. Tune-Yards kept playing despite their sound being cut off, but eventually ended the set early.
Grizzly Bear continued the party as the sun was starting to set over the park stage. It seemed as if most of the crowd heard of them before, but weren’t really invested in the performance until they played their hit single from their 2009 record, Veckatmest: “Two Weeks”. With their simple piano intro to that song, an overwhelming “ohhh THIS band” washed upon the crowd, leaving the festival-goers really excited to keep the party going into Spoon’s set.
Spoon was our personal favorite performance of the night. This was one of those bands where you can tell they have chemistry as soon as they step onto the stage. Because they have been playing together as a band for so long, they worked so cohesively on stage. Spoon began their set with a few of their hits like “Inside Out,” then moved into some of their deeper, less well known songs. During one of these numbers, the keyboardist went into a refined solo as lead singer, Britt Daniels, laid down on one of the amps. Spoon knew how to draw in the crowd as well. In no time, everyone was on their feet, moving around, and interacting with the music. They ended their set with some of their classics like “The Underdog,” “I Turn my Camera On,” “Don’t Make Me a Target”, and finished their set with a hit from their 2014 record, They Want My Soul, “Rent I Pay”. Overall, Spoon was a great way to nearly finish off the night.
Common, the other headliner on the first night, was welcomed to the largest crowd of the day for his hometown performance. Though he himself put on an energizing and exciting performance, the crowd went absolutely nuts when everyone’s favorite rapper came out to join him for a track, and yes, that rapper was Chance. With the crowd moving over from Spoon (who ended a half hour earlier than Common), Common knew how to cap a perfect day here at Mamby.
This talented indie-pop duo consisting of Via Rosa and Na’el Shehade began our second day of Mamby on the Beach, accompanied by perfect weather (for most of the day, at least). Her bellowing, breathy voice over head-bopping beats made DRAMA was the right way to begin the day.
Disco Ric, another local act to play Mamby this year, gave his all in front of a small crowd Sunday afternoon. Though the crowd was small, Ric Wilson gave the audience a performance that will surely add new fans. With it being a hometown show, Ric also welcomed a local artist to join him for a track. This artist happened to be none other than Evanston’s finest Kweku Collins. After the party with Kweku ended, Ric kept the fans engaged by inviting everyone to do a dance off in the middle of the crowd, with adding a challenge to dance against the best dancer be saw in the crowd. Being pressed for time, Disco Ric and his band played their last track at hyper speed to finish one of the best sets of the weekend.
Jamila Woods was our highlight performance on Sunday. Performing alongside her two sisters (singing backup vocals), and shouting out her mom in the crowd, it was a homecoming party for Jamilia a she was more than happy to be back in Chicago. Her set consisted of tracks from her debut album,, HEAVN. She surprised the audience with performing a song that its new and has never been performed before. In addition, she excited the crowd by covering “Sunday Candy” by Chance The Rapper, however, Chance did not join her. If you weren’t at this set, you missed one of the best sets of the weekend.
Festival goers were still rolling in when Oh Wonder took the stage. Their electronic indie pop had people movin’ and groovin’ in the sunshine over at the Park Stage. Their set featured songs from their 2017 release Ultralife. When they announced they were playing their last song, they told everyone to run over to the Beach Stage where they joined Whethan for the song they just released together “Superlove”, adding to the dance party Whethan already started.
St. Lucia brought us back to our middle school days with their light-hearted indie rock, catch riffs, and a good time being on the beach. They recently came out with two new tracks: “A Brighter Love” and “Paradise is Waiting” that they played for the fans who were out to see them. Unfortunately for them, the weather started to turn from warm and sunny, to chilly and dark as a thick layer of fog covered the beach.
Cold War Kids
Closing down the festival for the weekend was Cold War Kids, who really ignited the nostalgia in me and brought me back to my middle school days, especially when they played one of my favorite songs by them: “Hospital Beds”. With fog clearing, and what seemed as if even more people were just entering the festival for their set, Cold War Kids really brought the crowd into a powerful sing-a-long with their 2014 breakthrough track “First”.
Thank you Mamby for a great weekend on the beach. See you next time!