My phone was either lost in the depths of the sand or stolen in Mamby’s DJ tent during Duke Dumont; some would say this would be a hindrance to me come Sunday, but it only made me all the more present. (And I saw Common bring out Chance the night before, so I was on cloud nine.)
Sunday of Mamby ushered in the perfect breeze off Lake Michigan and a steadily shining sun. I was able to amble my way up to the front of most sets I saw, making Mamby one of my favorite festivals of the summer due to its supremely chill nature.
That beautiful weather definitely turned foggy and cold towards the end of the day, but the genuinely good-natured atmosphere of Mamby on the Beach definitely made up for it.
This retro DJ saw his career spike back in the ’90s, but he brought the dance party to Mamby that barrels through any notion of era. His set kept us consistently moving to the groove, with samples that included Giorgio Moroder’s track of “I Feel Love,” sung by the inimitable Donna Summer. It was the perfect way to kick off the afternoon, as I stood beneath a shaded tent and swayed to the music.
“This band has a fun name!” I uttered to my friends as we meandered over to the Beach Stage next door. I hadn’t heard of Moon Boots at all before, but this live performance seemed unmissable. Moon Boots kept us captivated with singer after singer, including Black Gatsby on synth groove “Power,” and another singer I couldn’t decipher the name of who bellowed a powerful CHVRCHES cover of “The Mother We Share.” My only complaint? Not knowing who each of these singers were, as the crowd (and the bass!) were simply too overpowering. Not complaining there though; that energy is what we were all craving the most.
One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Mamby was to see this DJ duo. With catchy tunes like “All My Friends” and “Don’t Leave” that feature powerful collabs with the likes of Chance and MØ, Snakehips were primed to give us a late afternoon dance party. And that they did. Opening with hip-hop samples that ranged from Missy Elliott’s “Work It” to DMX’s “Party Up,” Snakehips got the crowd going right away. The set devolved into Snakehips originals like the aforementioned crowd favorites, which had the entire group singing along. When the set began, I still had room to dance, but when I looked behind me as the set wound to a close, the entire field was a spectacle of concertgoers.
How can you deny Jamila Woods’ greatness. Answer: you can’t, it’s impossible. Woods’ stage presence just seems tailor made for huge audiences as she effortlessly draws in everyone’s attention. Whether it’s with songs like “Blk Girl Soldier” and her latest track “Muddy,” Woods know how to get the crowd vibing. She introduced and sang her section of “Sunday Candy,” where the mere mention of Chance’s name had the crowd cheering in hopes that we would be there like the day before. Alas no Chance, which was totally cool as Woods was more than enough to keep the party going. Her song “Lonely,” which takes a note from Paul Cole’s “I Don’t Want to Wait” was a clear highlight of the set that perfectly captured the kind of magical aura of midday Mamby.
I was a little concerned as to how Oh Wonder’s intimate, layered sound would translate in such an open space, but oh, did they prove me wrong. Duo Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht brought the energy, singing crowd-pleasers like “Ultralife” and “Technicolour Beat,” as colorful lights shone on behind them.
Led by Jean-Philip Grobler, St. Lucia took to the Park stage and instantly had the crowd grooving along to their sound. St. Lucia’s fun stage presence was perfect remedy for the Mamby crowd as the sun started to be overshadowed by clouds and the warm weather turned cool. Grobler mentioned that his and fellow band member Patti Beranek’s newborn son was at the side stage watching them perform for the first time, something that seems very apparent as they gave the show everything they had. From massive and expressive songs that filled the air to Grobler running off stage and making his way deep into the crowd during “Love Somebody,” St. Lucia was an excellent addition to this year’s Mamby lineup.