There’s something to be said about a festival when you can look back on it a week later and remember only the highlights of it. Mamby On The Beach finally hit the mark that it feels like React Presents has been trying to hit with its festivals for a few years now, and it’s because they’ve let Mamby grow into its own identity separate of their other, more rave-centric events.
Comprising a variety of music that vacillated between indie rock, alternative hip hop, and house-influenced electronic music, the range of music was equal parts fascinating and fresh. While MGMT and Cut Copy are certainly not new, their performances felt like welcome visits from old friends, punctuating a weekend that otherwise gently pushed our musical boundaries. Misterwives turned in a captivating, vivacious set that hooked us in from the back of the crowd. Tchami, who I’d admittedly written off as generic, impressed with a set that would be ‘fidget house’ by 2009 standards, but stood as a primer to modern bassline house that managed to stay away from being annoying — a feat I didn’t honestly know was possible.
The real big impressions of the weekend came from Green Velvet’s 25 Years of Relief Records set and Flying Lotus’s closing set on Sunday. FlyLo in particular finally brought his visually stunning LAYER3 performance setup to a festival stage in Chicago, which made up for any predictability in track selection with an arresting spectacle that remains as evolving and impressive as when it debuted years ago.
We’re also happy to report that the two big problems we predicted heading into the fest were total non-issues. React finally tracked down an 8-spigot free water dispenser that kept lines short and efforts to reduce litter were both visible and vocal — we got harped at once or twice for trying to leave the guest area with disposable cups. Honestly, we’re fine with that, especially if it reduces the impact of being able to have a time like this on a city beach. React Presents handled the show as well as could be expected, and while their other events might not resemble Mamby, I’m not sure there are many events in the United States that do. In this case, that’s a high compliment, and we’re excited to see what comes together next year.
Photos: Liz Carlson