The Beat Kitchen is not your typical Chicago music venue. The exterior looks like a house that has seen better days, but inside, it’s a small bar and restaurant. Walk back through the booths to a swinging door, though, and you enter an intimate, dimly lit back room. To the right are the merch tables, to the left is the sound equipment, and about twenty yards ahead is the stage, raised only about a foot off the ground.
On April 9th, Oh Honey was headlining. And while we love them, we have a special place in our hearts for Nick Santino, who we interviewed for our January issue, and who opened the show that night.
Santino stood on the small stage in a graphic tee, arms covered in tattoos, and his red hair tousled, with an acoustic guitar in hand that he said is almost exactly as old as his dad. He described himself as wearing “skinny jeans and no shoes, looking like some hippie dude.” He played his seven-song set alone to a small crowd, but that did not affect his enthusiasm, playing his songs with emotion and telling the crowd stories in between.
All of his songs fit into the indie genre but have a country twist to them, with their slowness, lyrics that are either about love or heartbreak, and twangy sound. The song he kicked things off with, The Story You Should Tell, definitely fit into that mold with a tap-your-foot-beat and lyrics about how everything may go wrong, but if “you’re happy with yourself all the rest can go to hell.”
A common theme in Santino’s songs is the importance of home, which is Boston. He told the crowd that “Chicago has always had this real cool thing for me…but you’re number two on the list, second to Boston.” His song Bad Taste, with it’s upbeat chords and steady beat, is “about how there’s no place like home” and Long Way Home, with an incredibly catchy chorus, is about listening to the radio on his “long way back home.”
He also played a couple self-described “sad songs,” including Gone Like Yesterday, a song with sorrowful lyrics but friends singing along in the background, about “dreams when I thought you were mine,” and Have a Little Faith in Me, a soft and mellow song, about how “you got what I want, you got what I need, so have a little faith in me.”
Santino played a short set of seven songs and he captivated the crowd the entire time. He’s absolutely an artist worth seeing and you can find out when he’ll be in your town next on his Facebook.
Sad you couldn’t make this show? Below is a playlist of Santino’s set list from that night!