Dancing in the Sand at Mamby on the Beach
Mamby on the Beach created a 4th of July weekend to remember for those who attended the sophomore year of this beach-side festival at Oakwood Beach in Chicago. With a diverse lineup and expanded festival grounds, Mamby is quickly making a name for itself as a mini weekend getaway on the coast of Lake Michigan.
In its sophomore year, Mamby expanded a few things to make room for a bigger crowd, bigger lineup, and better festival. Two stage updates; the Park stage and the Silent Disco were an awesome addition to the festival. The grassy area holding these stages also hosted the vendors and sponsor activities, providing an escape from the messiness of the sand. The main stage, the Beach, was right on the sand and water. The Chicago skyline in the distance behind the stage was a great addition to the cool bubble look of the stage. The DJ Mag tent wasn’t as epic as last year’s white “spaceship”, but it was just as bumping. Still a white stage, the structure was more of a circus tent than what appeared to look like an aircraft last year. The tent allowed for more shade and more room for everyone to see the artist at the front, so the changes proved practical. With techno and house music booming from the tent, the shade of the stage allowed for a light show at any time of the day. The Park stage sat behind the Tent in a lush grassy area. Those who didn’t bring a beach towel could chill at the Park stage and escape from the sand and dust and relax for a moment, although all the music coming from the Park stage made it hard to stay still.
Sponsors and partners with Mamby went all out to create a unique experience at the festival. Henna tattoos, hair braiding, psychic readings and silent disco style yoga was available for anyone attending the festival. The yoga was unique to witness sans headphones as a whole yoga class moved in unison. With current festival hair trends, the hair braiding was by far the most popular attraction, with yoga close behind. These were all on the way to each stage at the mouth of the festival, so one could get some yoga stretches in, get a henna tattoo, get “boxer braids” and be told the future all before snagging lunch at a vendor and hitting up the stages. Brilliant.
The lineup at this year’s Mamby proved far more diverse than last year. This year’s lineup included Hannah Wants, Atmosphere, Santigold, Chet Faker, Chromeo, Tycho, Animal Collective, and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, all unique in their own right. A variety of music created a widely diverse crowd at Mamby, and it was beautiful to see so many different kinds of people in one setting for the sake of music.
Thomas Jack made his first appearance, yet it seems as though he should always be playing that type of setting. His open Hawaiian shirt and shoulder-length blonde hair allow his look to match the music he creates. Hannah Wants had a huge following at her set, with guys on top of other guys’ shoulders chanting for her. The ladies were out and about at Mamby, with huge acts like Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, Santigold, Hannah Wants, Betty Who, The Black Madonna, K. Flay and more hitting the stage to show some girl power. All of these artists have a growing following, proving that music is no longer a male-dominated field.
Atmosphere blew away the crowd with his continued Midwest shout-outs and the uncanny ability to spit his rhymes just as smooth and flawless as their recorded albums. The crowd continued to rap every word as Slug paced the stage with his larger-than-life presence. Tycho played a chill set that still somehow made you dance as each track had its ebb and flow only Tycho could bring. Animal Collective kept things nice and trippy with their set, looping thick and complicated rhythms as each track flowed from the stage. Back over at the Tent stage, Tale of Us brought a heavy house music set with darker beats than we’d heard earlier in the day, yet with a deep and consistent bass the crowd kept begging for more. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down had people running from other stages to catch this unique singer-songwriter bring the best from her new album. Ryan Hemsworth stood out as an act on the Park stage that might have been better suited in the Tent stage, yet his variety brought fans of all genres to come and experience his talents and dance.
Chromeo kept things lighthearted as usual, playing old favorites that everyone could sing along to. Chet Faker brought out all the stops with a full band and even a surprise guest, Marcus Marr. Chicago native Chance the Rapper also made a surprise appearance alongside Lido. Santigold was a stand-out performance to close out the Park stage. Making her second appearance in Chicago this summer, she made sure everything was flawless. Her dancers, band members as well as herself had costumes, choreographed dance moves and the attitude to outshine everyone else the entire weekend.
Mamby took full advantage of the fact that the festival was 60% sand. Aside from the flawless beach view of Lake Michigan, the majestic skyline of Downtown Chicago hung in the background with a coastal view from the south side few have seen before. Sponsor tents and the entirety of VIP held a cool Tiki theme that repeated throughout the festival, with Tiki torches and paper lanterns galore. Volleyball courts at the back end of the Beach stage had people spiking the ball to each other all weekend. The tented DJ Mag stage kept the sand wet and cool for anyone who wanted to attempt to build a sand castle or escape from the sun. Those with VIP tickets could even take a dip in Lake Michigan if they so pleased, although the weather has yet to be hot enough at Mamby for a lot of people to jump in yet proved to be more pleasant than last year’s clouds and rain. One downfall from the sun and sand was the high amounts of dust that came from everyone trudging through the sand. A bandana or other face cover of some sort became a lung saver before it rained on Sunday.
Whether spending most of their time at the Beach stage, the Tent or the Park stage, each attendee at Mamby on the Beach had a great time seeing the best of their favorite artists with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan in the backdrop. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s Mamby, but we can only hope that the party can last all weekend next year.