written by Austin Allen
As waves crashed onto Oakwood Beach and the sun rose and set over the beautiful Chicago skyline, the sounds of 60 different artists filled the air and created the soundtrack for a glorious weekend. Welcome to Mamby on the Beach, where the sand in between your toes and the sun on your skin just might ease the ache of leaving Electric Forest. Even though Mamby has only been around for two years, it runs like a well-established festival. The production, environment, stages, and venue as a whole created a wonderful overall vibe full of smiles and mutual respect. Watching the sky over Lake Michigan turn from blue to pink and fade into night made this city festival one to remember.
Mamby on the Beach Quick Facts:
Capacity: Small (about 15,000)
Crowd type: Considering that Mamby is a city festival, especially in Chicago, you can expect a plethora of people. The working class who found someone to cover their shifts were strong in attendance while the heady attendees were numbered in the single digits. Adults ruled the sandy beaches of Oakwood; each with their own set of values and schedules that could not be interrupted by any other outsiders. Following in a close second were the young adults ranging from 18-24 and in full festival mode. There were a few older couples that made an appearance to keep the crowd type very differentiated and fresh throughout the weekend.
Music genre: If you’re into heavy bass and dubstep, look somewhere else. That said, Mamby was full of everything else to satisfy the majority of attendees. The Indie genre was covered by Animal Collective, Milky Chance, and many more stellar artists. Hip-Hop was also another popular genre with acts like Atmosphere, Lupe Fiasco, and a surprise appearance by Chance the Rapper. Dance music also had quite the presence at the Mixmag tent, which leaned heavily towards Chicago’s historic house with artists like Tale of Us, Hannah Wants, Loco Dice, & Inphinity behind the decks.
How To Get There
Oakwood Beach is located directly off Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, and the festival provides free on-site bike parking. Speaking of free things, free shuttles run to and from the event from 12pm-11pm. You can catch a ride between Cermack – Chinatown Red Line and the Cermack – McCormick Green Line and the festival. Parking is available in the McCormick Marshalling Yard for a small fee. Ubers and taxis are also around, but look out for surges when everyone tries to leave all at the same time.
Where To Stay
Unfortunately there’s no camping on the beach(can you imagine how perfect that would be?), but there are plenty of places to rest your head. The city of Chicago offers hotels to fit even the tightest festival budget. Everything from 2-3 star hotels offering a room for less than $100 a night to 4-5 star hotels for $200+ complete with all the fancy additions. A quick Google search will leave you with more options than you know what to do with.
This is Chicago, what else can you expect other than some of the tastiest food to ever be in your mouth. Chicago ribs, Chicago hotdogs and burgers, and who could forget CHICAGO PIZZA (the best pizza in existence). If you attend this festival and don’t grab a bite to eat you’re really slacking on the experience. Just watch out for a hotdog stand offering lambdog or turducken. I’m very optimistic and open-minded when it comes to new experiences, so I went with the turducken…and ended up throwing it away after a few bites.
Top notch, especially for such a young festival…*applauds*. Everything blended so well and created such a euphoric atmosphere, it was hard to walk away at the end of the night. The sand, the grass, and the water (tip: ocean access is for VIP only) all hugged my feet day in and day out; I highly suggest taking your shoes off as soon as you arrive, and definitely forget about socks.
The stages were perfectly spaced, and as I traveled from one end of the venue to the other my eyes were greeted with creative vendors and glorious, artistic sculptures all over the place. On the last night, as the sun set and the festival came to a close, a surprise firework show closed out Mamby for the second year in a row. In one of my favorite moments of the weekend, I watched (and eventually, joined) people gathering together outside of the Mixmag tent while cheering and applauding the production.
Lowkey Artists You Should Look Up
Every stage had something fresh and new to offer the audience, but Inphinity’s set at the Mixmag stage makes him my favorite “lowkey” artist for spinning the best of that dirty house music that defines Chicago’s club scence. Marcus Marr and Gene Farris also hypnotized the crowd with upbeat house tracks that kept your feet moving.
Things To Do
Besides digging your feet into the sand and relaxing on the beach (seriously, if this is all you did all weekend—plus listen to the music of course—you’d be doing Mamby right), the festival keeps things interesting with activities like yoga, meditation, and mechanical bull rides. We know, you didn’t see that last one coming.
Why Go VIP:
Express entry, tiki Lounge, elevated viewing area, premium bar with liquor, AND access to the ocean. Need I say more? I will…
Mamby also held a contest rewarding one lucky individual with four free VIP tickets and a suite at the Hyatt McCormick, plus complimentary parking and breakfast! Make sure to check it out next year so that you can experience the high life during Mamby.
What Makes The Festival Different
The music lovers, the people just looking to escape the societal bonds of conformity, the ones who showed up just for the drugs…this festival had such a perfect blend of characters to keep things interesting all weekend, and made for an overall atmosphere unique to this half beach/half city fest.
Not that I didn’t appreciate the lineup as a solid display of talent, but it wasn’t quite my type of music. Fortunately, the fact that I wasn’t so focused on the artists gave me a unique opportunity to relax on the beach and meet a collection of amazing people with amazing stories, the kinds of people who will ensure my return to this beautiful beachside festival.