Mamby on the Beach storms the Chicago shore with headliner Local Natives
If you followed the #fyrefestival debacle in late April (a luxe music fest that devolved into “Rich Kids of Instagram” meets “Lord of the Flies”), you know that beachside bashes can go belly up fast— especially when they are unproven startups. Thankfully, Chicago’s Mamby on the Beach has a track record for delivering energetic performances from big-name indie bands, rather than “Hunger Games”style drama. Now in its third year, Mamby is bigger than ever, boasting the Los Angeles-based rock band Local Natives (hailed as the next Arcade Fire) as this year’s headliner.
We caught up with Local Natives singer and keyboardist Kelcey Ayer right before he took the mainstage at Coachella with his four band mates (Taylor Rice, Ryan Hahn, Matt Frazier and Nik Ewing). “I didn’t realize how huge Coachella has gotten,” says Ayer. “It’s a lot different than [when we started].” To be fair, a lot has changed since the band was still breaking through in 2009: Coachella was in its infancy, Mamby wasn’t even a thought, and Local Natives was playing bars and pubs for audiences of five.
But that’s all changed, partly thanks to Chicago, where local crowds were quick to spot the band’s talent. “I remember those shows being a little rowdy,” laughs Ayer, recalling the band’s days playing Chicago venues like Schuba’s. They rapidly became a Windy City favorite, with gigs around town and at the city’s massive Lollapalooza festival in 2016. On June 24, they’re back for Mamby on the Beach, and they are promising to bring the heat—and some new tunes. “For festivals we lean more on the energetic side, ‘cause, you know, we’re competing with Lady Gaga, so what are we going to do?” Ayer explains. He also teases that the band will drop a single in late May dubbed, “The Only Heirs,” and produced by Chicagoan Donnie Trumpet (a regular collaborator with Chance the Rapper).
With Local Natives leading the charge and a roster of other stellar performers like Misterwives, Mamby is poised to deliver the ultimate summer experience: a vibrant—though at times unapologetically hipster (there’s free sexuality workshop and a silent disco)—music fest all set in front of a stunning Chicago view. Eat your heart out, #fyrefestival.
June 24-25. Tickets start at $66.50. Oakwood Beach, 3050 S. Moe Dr., mambybeach.com