Chicago Festival Season • Round One

Photos by Katrina Tarzian

Chicago's festival season is well underway, and we're happy to report that the These Days team has survived round one. With the addition of new festivals each year, the time between these long weekends seems to get shorter and shorter, but we're not complaining, they've been responsible for some pretty great experiences. Leading off the lengthy lineup of festivals for us this year is Mamby on the Beach, Pitchfork, and Lollapalooza's 25th anniversary celebration. We enjoyed all of them immensely and our friend Katrina Tarzian was on site for each fest to capture some of the more memorable moments and performances.

Enjoy the These Days views below and be sure to join us in the field for round two shortly. 

Mamby on the Beach

Returning for its second year, Mamby on the Beach makes another positive impression with its two days in the sand. Adding a the Park Stage this year, Mamby on the Beach almost doubled in size for year two, and offered a place of refuge from the dusty beach stage. While watching performances with your toes in the sand is certainly a nice quality, on windy days that stage can be somewhat of a dust bowl. Luckily, we were blessed with some great weather and the festival went off without a hitch both days.

Beginning our festival weekend with local favorites Ravyn Lenae and Monte Booker, Mamby stole our hearts immediately. Some more of our favorite sets included Kaytranada (damn this guy has a lot of hot records right now!), Lido with a Chance The Rapper cameo, Gallant, and a rare Chicago set from Lupe Fiasco. Can you believe this was only my second time seeing Lupe perform live?! Still a very young festival, but the the experience behind it made sure Mamby's second year was a memorable one.  

Pitchfork Music Festival

Two weeks after Mamby, Pitchfork Music Festival celebrated it's 11th year in Chicago. Returning to its home at Union Park on Chicago's west side, Pitchfork catered to the music lovers. If EDM is your thing (and it's fine if it is), Pitchfork just isn't for you. Like their journalistic endeavor, the music festival is very indie centric. Indie in a sense that these artists are not your Top 40 pop sensations, but rather responsible for some of your favorite deep cuts. 

More so than Mamby, Pitchfork also brought a lot of local names to take their stages this year. Mick Jenkins, Whitney and Twin Peaks led the pack on Friday, but the rest of the weekend was just as Chicagocentric and we even got another Chance The Rapper cameo appearance during Jeremih's set. The local born crooner had one of the more memorable sets of the weekend, as he pulled out all the stops celebrating his 29th birthday. His mom was even on hand to contribute to the party. Some of the neighbors that we really enjoyed seeing were Blood Orange, Thundercat, Anderson .Paak, Miguel, and of course the always entertaining and eccentric FKA Twigs. Brian Wilson was a little underwhelming unfortunately, but I'm hoping he was just having an off day mixed with some technical difficulties. You can see for yourself when he returns to Chicago October 1st to perform Pet Sounds at the Chicago Theatre.


Rounding out the first round is Chicago's largest and oldest music festival. Celebrating 25 years in 2016, Lollapalooza made quite the impact on Downtown Chicago over the course of four grueling days. I personally only made it one day, but Katrina was on site for just about everything. With a shocking amount of local talent spanning the full length of the daily schedules, there were more than a couple reasons to visit Lolla this year if you're a fan of local music. Smino, Saba, Towkio and Joey Purp were just a few of the artists that took a Lollapalooza stage for the first time, and on the other end of the spectrum, Vic Mensa went from opener to headlining the Pepsi stage in just two year's time. Vic took advantage of his premium time slot too, having one of the most visually powerful performances all weekend. 

There was plenty to see and even more to do throughout the long weekend, as Lolla outdid itself for it's big birthday party. There were plenty of amazing things to eat, no shortage of beverages and enough random games to keep concert goers entertained during gaps in their schedules. It wouldn't be a festival in Chicago if Chance didn't pop out, and he did alongside Dwanye Wade and Michelle Williams during Flosstradamus' set, but he wasn't the only surprise guest over the weekend, Malia Obama even made an appearance and was caught dancing during Bryson Tiller's set. 

By the end of the weekend, those that were there all four days were noticeably worn, but looking back on the festival via these amazing photos and recap video, it was clearly all worth it.