Festivals

Mamby on The Beach 2016: A Preview

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Our guest author is Rebecca O’Neil, a Los Angeles native who traded the seashore for the lakeshore. She’s a music festival veteran.

This weekend marks React Present’s second annual Chicago Summer Music Festival, Mamby on the Beach. South siders will find the curves of Oakwood Beach’s lakeshore lined with stages featuring various and sundry good vibrations.

The four featured venues within the festival’s gates—Beach Stage, Park Stage, mixmag’s DJ Tent featuring “beachfront and techno vibes” and Silent Disco—offer an array of vaguely electro-centric genres often hard to find in a festival that averages 8,000 people a day. Mamby marks my first time at a mid-sized festival and, as a Los Angeles native, my first Chicago music festival ever. Hello, I’m a noob.

The biggies generally feature identical headliners as the music festival infection spreads cross-country in summer season. Not complaining, I need more than one chance to see LCD Soundsystem, but Mamby? Mamby’s something different. I project: Mamby is the music festival you are encouraged to wear sandals to, where the lake effect is appreciated and positive feels abound.

Perhaps predictably so, I will find myself on the Beach Stage for most of Mamby’s afternoons this weekend. Appropriately sunblocked, I intend to dance there for hours on Saturday, to find a rhythm initiated by South Side’s own, Monte Booker’s and Ravyn Lenae’s illustrious instrumental landscapes to carry me through Mamby Day 1. The percussion blend into electro-soul can hardly be followed but fellow Angelino, Bishop Briggs meets the challenge with a sound so robust it has been heralded as gospel, rock, dark pop and electronica simultaneously. That “dark pop” vein must be followed to K. Flay at Park Stage. Here’s hoping she performs the Louis The Child track. Only after Thomas Jack’s almost classic house set (can I call house classic now?) will I likely explore mixmag’s setup. I’m altogether unfamiliar with Shiba San, but as I listen to the hip-hop seasoned French producer my last set at Coachella 2014 comes to mind, Duck Sauce.

As the sun nears the horizon, Tycho awaits as the penultimate act of the night at Park Stage. I feel comfortable comparing Scott Hansen to a Michelin Star Chef (as I’ve been watching a lot of food documentaries on Netflix lately) in the way that his downtempo-ed ambient synth suddenly and gracefully transports your very soul to a calm state of euphoria. His performance at Bonnaroo last year was life destroying, and although I appreciate Atmosphere, Tycho’s set is too captivating to pass up. Milky Chance will invite me out of the trance and be a perfect send off.

Sunday will find me at Chrome Sparks set on Park Stage. The band’s first link on Google is still their bandcamp page. Two years ago they played at Coachella’s Do Lab and although I was grateful to be sprayed in desert heat, even then I couldn’t understand why they weren’t featured under one of the main tents. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down to follow is another on the personal list of To Be Seen. Like Thao, Gallant and his new album exploit magnificent,gospel-esque melodies on behalf of lyrical genius.

On the sweet, sticky sound produced on one side of the good vibes spectrum you might find me at Betty Who’s set. If I am feeling like myself, you will find me at Derrick Carter, head bobbing the noggin still discerning Chromeo or Lupe Fiasco. Finally, my most coveted Mamby set and the pinnacle of feels, Chet Faker. I’m crushed that his set directly overlaps with Santigold but Faker’s concert dates have fought fate and eluded my availability for too long. To finally see Thinking in Textures live, with sand between my toes no less, is a dream. I feel tentative about the Silent Disco so I’m not including it in my official Mamby schedule but I suspect the visual art there will draw me in at some point and, as proven to me at BlissFest 2015, Silent Disco can be executed well. Aside from perusing the usually unusual and undoubtedly photogenic art installations along the beach, find me between sets making a sandcastle large enough so that when I step inside I might disappear into Solo Sunrise.

Mamby on the Beach occurs on Saturday and Sunday, July 2-3, at Oakwood Beach, 4100 S. Lake Shore Dr. Tickets are $75 plus fees for single day admission. VIP packages are available for both days.

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