If you’re going to spend an entire summer day in the sun at a music festival, why not pick the one that takes place right on the lakefront? The Oakwood Beach location of Mamby on the Beach sure is inviting, but scenic surroundings aside, the two-day music event boasts one of the ballsiest cross-genre bills of any midsize fest in town. “I look at it as a human mixtape,” Mamby talent buyer Matt Rucins recently told me, and the quality of the bill reflects that aesthetic. Though many festival organizers want to book what’s in vogue at this very moment, Mamby’s artists have crossover appeal regardless of whether or not they’ve got a new album racing up the charts—though some performers do fit the latter category, such as Atlanta rapper Russ, whose 2017 album There’s Really a Wolf went platinum in April. Other Chicago festivals regularly pair indie and hip-hop headliners, but I can’t think of another occasion when Austin indie-rock kings Spoon have shared top billing with foundational Chicago hip-hop figure and Oscar winner Common, which will happen Saturday night. And Common’s not the only Mamby performer who calls Chicago home; some of the fest’s brightest acts are also locals.
On Saturday, Towkio and Cupcakke celebrate their recent noteworthy albums, WWW and Ephorize, respectively, with respectfully high-billed sets, and Pivot Gang rapper Joseph Chilliams plays his first big local show behind his Mean Girls-inspired EP The Plastics—which is set to drop on Juneteenth, the June 19 celebration of the abolition of slavery. Sunday includes R&B standout Jamila Woods and soulful electronic duo Drama, who support their luxurious new EP, April’s Lies After Love. Mamby is a React Presents festival, which means the DJ tent is as big a draw as the bands. The final day of the fest features the one-two punch of Cajual recording artist Gene Farris and Canadian minimal techno hero Richie Hawtin. v