Mamby on the Beach 2018 was that moment anyone who attended remembered why they love summer. AXS shared in the moment and is here to bring you the highlights. Here is what made Mamby on the Beach the most fun way to kick off the hot season.
The Setup: Weather, Lines and Ambiance
Leading up to Day 1 of the festival on Chicago's Oakwood Beach, just south of downtown, the weather reports were in the high 60's. While this wasn't the worst weather to expect, it wasn't the most ideal for a day on the beach. When the day arrived, the sun beat down and the temperature reached around 75 degrees; the perfect weather for a summer music fest on the sand. The only remnants of Chicago's temperamental weather was the muddy, wet grass underneath festival-goers feet from the wild rains that hit the city the days before. Day 2 was set up just about the same with temperatures a few degrees shy of 74. The body warmth in each tent and crowd made the weather feel just about the same with a quick stint of temperamental showers peaking in during late afternoon hours on the second day.
Now that we've set the mood weather-wise, let's talk about how the long lines leading into the festival moved fairly efficiently after some reconfiguring on the part of the attendants. Pat downs happened and small bags, they couldn't be any larger than 12 inches all the way around this year, were looked into at the door. Once you made it in, the festival was quite, in colloquial terms, LIT.
The festival spread along Oakwood Beach with house, electronic bass, soul, blues-rock, indie rock and hip-hop music coming from any given tent or stage at any time. The bulk of crowds were often found dancing to EDM or house music in a tent furthest south along the lake. The soulful and hip-hop acts like Common, Jamila Woods and Russ showed at the northernmost stage.
The Acts: Popular Originals, Newbies and Diversity All-Around
Speaking of Common, as the headliner for Day 1 the rapper drew a massive crowd with his wise and aware lyrics, gallows humor and of course his infectious sound. The crowd was mesmerized with some men visibly standing at attention hanging on to the rapper's every word. This was in sharp contrast to those who were dancing to the catchy beats while they took in the deep meaning of Common's lyrics. Then the rapper casually introduced his "friend" in the audience, Chance The Rapper who joined him on stage to finish out the set. The crowd went mad as Chance humbly hopped on stage, acknowledged the audience and went off into a flawless freestyle on Common's 2005 track with Kanye West "The Food."
Amazing collaborations continued the next day as Chicago's Pride Parade and Mamby coincidentally intersected on stage with dance-electronic band Moon Boots performing with Black Gatsby for a thumping and the contagiously dance-y song "Power." Swarms of folks in the audience and across the beach wore their rainbows to support Pride and this performance complemented the vibe. Black Gatsby has a voice that takes over the spirit and Moon Boots' beats take over the body for a lethal combination of pure movement. It was hard for anyone to stand still.
When tUnE-yArDs made a Mamby appearance, the singer shut it down with a sound no one wanted to end. At the end of the final song "Heart Attack" the microphone cut off, but Merrill Garbus, the brainchild behind tUnE-yArDs kept the professional enchantment going by singing through the end of the song. The singer took to Instagram to apologize for the technicality and to plug an aftershow:
Thank you for being sunshine @mambybeach
Mamby wouldn't be a Chicago festival without giving space for local performers to shine. One of the most notable and promising local talents to sing on a stage near the entrance to the festival was 20-year-old Franchika Abbey who was introduced by Chance the Rapper as one of the "one our dopest brightest" alumna of a social justice and the arts program SocialWorks back in April of this year. She performed an original song at the Allstate Arena and brought her lyricism and powerful vocals to Mamby on Sunday. Her voice soared across riffs and high notes with ease drawing crowds to the stage. She sang of a broken heart and hit high notes impeccably. The singer is an up and coming talented not to be missed. She has a new album coming out on Aug. 8.
The festival rounded out with some R&B with Russ. The singer and emcee drew one the biggest Sunday crowd as fans erupted with familiar songs like "What They Want" and "Do It Myself." He kept the party going with both slow and upbeat songs from his discography and the crowd felt his presence.
All in all, Mamby on the Beach 2018 was nothing but good times. We'd recommend adding to your favorites for next year.