Two summer break staples are going to the beach, and going to music festivals.
So why not try both at the same time?
This is exactly what the annual Chicago Music Festival, Mamby On The Beach is trying to accomplish. Located at, Oakwood Beach in Chicago, the festival features several outdoor activities including, yoga and a ferris wheel, alongside a slew of musical guests.
Despite being fairly new to the festival scene, the event has consistently featured an interesting collection of mainstream talents. With past headliners including, MGMT, Milky Chance and Flying Lotus. Mamby markets itself as being an EDM-centered festival, however, they do provide a variety of genres. This year’s headliners included the likes of Russ, Common and Spoon.
The artists mentioned below are the ones I had time to see. There were plenty of other artists I could not visit because of time conflicts between acts, so just remember that this is not representative of the entire festival. This was just my personal experience
While I do appreciate a little bit of hedonism in my music personally, gospel music has always had a special place in my heart. The celebratory tone infused with gargantuan sized voices feels like entering the gates of heaven itself. As out of place as Joshua’s Troop may feel at an EDM festival, they actually managed to pull off a strong start as a festival opener. Throughout the brief set, the singers produced what seemed like a never-ending wall of sound. Accompanying the energetic singing was this joyous choreography that had individual members dancing independently while maintaining a feeling of unity. Something I was not expecting was how the group threw in subtle influences of R&B and jazz into their sound. My only real complaint was that the Christian overtones were occasionally overbearing, especially when the group’s rotating soloist made calls to action. Other than that, Joshua’s Troop is a wonderful representative for Chicago gospel music.
grandson is an up and coming alternative artist, with a unique set of influences including punk, electronic music and noise. He did sing in this whiny inflection that was a little annoying time to time. The lyricism while substantive wasn’t really all that subtle. It only made it worse when he felt the need to explain his lyrics beforehand. There are cases where certain songs may need further context to truly understand their content, but when a song is titled “Overdose,” I think the audience can figure out its meaning. While I am lukewarm on his current state, I still look forward to whatever direction he heads in the future because it’s acts like him that will push rock forward rather than letting it to revel in the past.
Chicago sex-fiend, cupcakke, had her time in the sun with a set of nonstop party music. Her infamous lewd and crude lyrics discharged onto the audience from her rapid fire delivery. During the duration of her performance she constantly oozed this contagious sexual confidence that cannot really be found anywhere else but her. While a great performance overall, it didn’t really surpass my expectations. It was pretty much everything I predicted it would be: loud, sexual, energetic and hilarious. My only problem with the set was that the main element of performance was in the form of hand motions and not actual choreography, but even that was not really a major issue.
Going into this show, I do admit I was pretty biased coming in. I remember seeing several of my favorite music journalists listing, “The Click” as one of the worst albums of 2017. But, I was curious regardless. How bad could an indie pop trio of brothers possibly be? The introduction is decent in the way it effortlessly fuses all of the songs on, “The Click” into a compilation. The singing wasn’t all that bad. Sure it is pretty poppy and high-pitched, but it fits the style. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much it in terms of compliments I have for this show aside from being pretty energetic. The rest of the set was God awful. First off, there is weird amount of reliance on their sample machine. They constantly bring up how they use it and how special it is to them. While it may be a key part of their sound, it really is not anything special. Thousands of other artists across a variety of genres use this machine frequently, only they don’t feel the need to bring it up every 20 seconds. Going into the production, the mixing is super shitty. They openly described their process, which is essentially fusing overly distorted rhythms with melodic instruments like, pianos and trumpets, to create an abomination of pop cliches. I’m not even gonna go into the lyrics because they’re so bad. But, to sum it up, the lines on their songs are some of the most pandering, whiny, corny and cliche shit I’ve heard in the last decade. If you are a millennial, this group is doing nothing but trying to pander to you. Also let’s not forget about the spastic dancing meant to distract you from how mind numbing the core of the songs are. Yeah, this show was bad and I genuinely hope this style of fake deep lyricism will die sooner than later.
Indie rock gods, Grizzly Bear are back with their signature psych-folk sound. The heaven ascending instrumentation, paired with choir boy falsettos, made a truly unique mix of genres. Songs like, “Two Weeks” of course rile up the crowd with punchy piano chords and harmonized backup vocals. The biggest downside was that the band members do not have the best stage presence, which can lead to watching four sweaty guys play apathetically on stage, but in the end they make up for it with their fantastic sound.
Hip hop’s hippie, Common made a hometown appearance where he lead us through his life journey going from worshiping his idols like, Muhammed Ali, to becoming one of the most influential rappers of all time. With an arsenal of charisma packed at his side, he truly showed himself to be an incredible showman like no other. He had a super diverse setlist ranging from smoother R&B songs, to harder hitting jazz rap bangers. As the show progressed, he touched on his struggles and successes, as well as the love he has for his wife and children. At one point, he brought out fellow Chicagoan, Chance the Rapper, who performed a spectacular freestyle. The biggest issue was that the guest singer Common had featured was barely audible over the instrumentals, but even she sounded beautifully melodic. Overall it was an incredible show and a perfect closer to the festival.
Despite still being in its infancy, Mamby On The Beach has shown itself to operate on the same level as internationally recognized music festivals. While there are several improvements that could be made towards the structure and layout of the festival, so long as it continues providing reputable acts, it will only continue to grow.
Best Act: Common
Worst Act: AJR