Mamby on the Beach Slugs Their Sophomore Effort Out of the Park: Water Balloon Fights, Music and More [Review]

This past 4th of July weekend, Oakwood Beach turned into one massive dance party alongside the lake. The first of five major Chicago music festivals, Mamby lead off with a first pitch homer as it was one of the most unique festivals I’ve ever been to. From a five minute water balloon fight during Mayer Hawthorne to Santigold absolutely killing her set; here’s how Mamby kept it hot during a cool holiday weekend.

An A+ Set Up

One of the strongest parts of this fest was the layout. While the title might suggest it’s only on the beach, Mamby actually had a traditional stage on the grass and two on the beach. The coolest part was the ability to walk onto the actual beach to hang out (life guards included) and view the magnificent skyline – see below.

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Saturday Acts

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down provided a breezy indie-pop set to get my day started on the cool lakefront. It was pretty windy and only about 75 degrees all weekend long.

My favorite set of the day was local favorite Wild Belle. Their music is a perfect pairing for a beach as Natalie and Elliot ripped through an hour long set comprised of an even mix of both albums.

Animal Collective was an experience to say the least. I’ve never been a huge fan and their set honestly didn’t win me over. However, there were points where it was impossible not to bounce your head up and down and hardcore fans everywhere seemed to love the set. Their setlist was mostly new album, Painting With, but they surprised fans by opening with deep cut “Kids on Holiday” for the first time in a decade. Take a look here:

Impromptu Water Balloon Fights = Fun

While checking out new wave soul singer Mayer Hawthorne, an aerial assault of water balloons started to pour down like a typical day in Seattle. Now, I don’t know if workers started this fight, or a random group of people – but the softness of the beach allowed some balloons to not burst. Thus, it allowed us to fire back and create some of the most fun 5 minutes ever. I got soaked but the flashback was worth it, just missing a super soaker or two.

Sunday Acts

Covers seem like all the rage this year and I walked by pop singer Betty Who singing 1996 mega hit “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis.

I mentioned Mayer Hawthorne above, he was enjoyable and reminded me of Leon Bridges with an electro side. Speaking of electro, it was a major theme of this fest but thankfully sound bleeding between stages wasn’t an issue.

I’ve been wanting to see Santigold for years as once a 60 year old man on a train told me it was his favorite Lolla set by far. High five to that guy, because she was my favorite set of the weekend. The set was a mix of all of her hits, including bringing up several of the audience members on-stage to dance to “Creator”. Overall, a great closer to a great festival.

Final Thoughts

The shuttle system to the green line was fabulously designed and executed as it seemed like they had enough buses for a whole high school. Also, the ability to chill out on the beach makes for the best way to cool off at a festival.

I’d predict Mamby to try to expand to three days next year as they’ll probably put together an even more powerful line up next summer. Kudos the the producers to an awesome accent to the holiday weekend.

More from Andy Koval
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