written by Ken Smith
Lakeshake doesn’t get all the fun as the Beach bunz, Volleyball and musical takeover of Oakwood beach that is Mamby on the Beach! With more than just music, Mamby is the biggest it’s been in its 3 year history.
A long teepee installation greets you as you enter the festival. There were all kinds of art pieces near the entrance and scattered around the festival. Dream catchers floating from sets, shrubbery that spelled “Mamby”, as well as our president graffitied in the prettiest colors along the concrete walls, smiling at you when you walk in. What a lovely face…what a lovely face.
My personal favorite was a giant glass sculpture that was pretty in the day but truly lit up at night.
Mamby had surprising amount of things to do aside from the art and music. Did I want to start with Groove Animal or perhaps I could start the day with some Yoga? Decisions decisions...
Well, the music hit me so I found my way to Groove Animal at the Mixmag Tent stage on the beach and a little later I walked to the Park Stage to checkout Saba. The weather was near perfect, you can never have too much sun. There were folks playing volleyball, folks tripping over each other trying to do yoga, AND folks covered in Mild Sauce from all the Harolds that they were eating, YES (Harold's was there TOO). The Magician was also there. Known for his funky rhythms, he definitely had the crowd turnt. He is low key one of my favorite producers and has making good electronica for a while now.
Day 1 had been dope so far, but I was there for MGMT. They played their new classics “Electric Feel” and “Youth are starting to Change” but also many of their unreleased tracks from their new upcoming album! It was amazing, with Andrew and Ben in rare form as they rocked the stage. Maybe they will send it to us for a special review (*Hint Hint MGMT*!!!!!)
So Day 1 was epic but many of my favorites were playing on Day 2 so I almost ran from my apartment to make sure I made it one time. The Silent disco was one of the first things you see as you walk in. I missed it the day before, so why not see what it is about? This was my first time at a Silent Disco and 'twas a beautiful introduction, it was like being in an exclusive concert - in an exclusive concert - “Concertception”, a first for me. Never even heard of an “Insoul” before either, but the feels were good, and that is all that really matters.
Sango started not to long after at the Park Stage and I soon found myself in and out of his Brazilian Bass(y) HipHop(y) groove. Sango is dope, glad he got a chance to rock out in one of dopest spots in the city. Y’all keep an eye on him, he will be headlining in a couple of years.
There was another good artist that I had never heard before, his name is Todd Terje, and he started after Sango finished. Never have I heard so much synthesizer in one band, I felt like I was dancing through time, lost in '80s disco. His band was great, truly a fun performance that had the whole audience dancing.
So glad I caught some of the poems in the Louder than a Bomb tent. The organization is a youth focused slam poetry competition, in which young artists (ahem) slam their best poems for fame and glory. Mamby featured some of these young talents which (DJ Khaled voice) I appreciated they were featured at a festival like this. Chicago can feel divided sometimes, it was nice to see a festival take the time to let some truly passionate locals speak about their experiences here.
This was kind of the best transition ever for Thundercat’s part of the festival. His music is elevating - poetry with music accompaniment. He did not disappoint as his usual songs were extended so he could really show how well he plays on the bass. Listening to him is akin to listening to a young Isaac Hayes - very few artists can play and sing with such visceral confidence. Some song standouts were “Lone Wolf and Cub” and “Them Changes”. His rendition of “Show you the Way” was so good I expected Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins to walk on stage to join him. They didn’t - although oddly there was one dude who like Kenny Loggins standing on the next to the stage the whole time, but that is another story!
Flying Lotus drifted us back nicely to the oddly awesome wave Sango started earlier. He had two screens set up, one translucent one in front of him and a regular one behind him. The show was spectacular, displaying some of the trippiest visuals ever seen. Those that know his music know that he got popular putting his beats on Adult Swim commercial spots WAY back in the day, so he is no stranger to weird. We were treated to dizzying visuals with all kinds of esoteric imagery from animated characters running across the screens to the more intense imagery, like that of his David Firth directed “Ready Err Not” music video - Think your old Windows Media player visualizer on acid. It was an amazing experience, I’ve been going to Flying Lotus concerts for awhile now and he never disappoints. He also made a surprise movie announcement!
Mamby was great, truly surprised at how big it has gotten. I didn’t get to see all the performances as there was so much to do and see and EAT. You tell me another concert you can listen to Flying Lotus while you do Yoga on the BEACH. Seriously, tell me! I want to go there next!