I can think of, maybe, a handful of times this year that a band of musicians in Chicago played a set where they could do no wrong. This is true of The 1900s at The Empty Bottle earlier this month and Elsinore at Lincoln Hall back in August. There may have been another show I went to that, at this time, I’m somehow forgetting.
Point is, Santah‘s sold-out gig at Schubas Wednesday night was unstoppable. There was an energy in the place, that indescribable feeling you get every now and again where creative and talented performers are absolutely shredding it right in front on you, playing a cut above what you’re used to. They break out a tune, the crowd swings and dances and cheers and ambles about without any sort of rhythm. And then the song ends… and, naturally, as if there could be no other way, another good one — nay, great one — commences. You know what I’m saying?
Santah’s gig Wednesday — the quality, the amount of fun to be had — was about as unexpected as Bush’s re-election.
It’s alarming how quickly these guys (and gal!) have etched their names among the Chicago elite — and for critics and indie music fiends to return the favor. Just three months ago, I was one of, oh, about 50 who came out for Santah’s early fall gig at Schubas on a lowly Thursday night. Opening for Aleks and the Drummer and Shonen Knife, they were solid, but not remarkably so. I think my fondness of their debut LP — and a yearning to hear some of its tunes live again — was my leading reason for showing up this week (even with, in mind, a 4 a.m. wake-up call).
And actually, I almost wasn’t able to be there. I approached Schubas’ inside double doors with that pesky sold-out sign glaring back at me. (Sold out?! What in the hang happened in three months?!) Yet light pleading, and forking over the entrance fee despite being a media contact, got me inside. (Thanks again, dude!)
Anyway, what I want to say is that my memories of that September evening and Santah’s, um, breakthrough on Wednesday are about as unmatched as Cubs and Sox fans. I wouldn’t know where to start because they’re that different. It’s freaking exciting, and I’m not even in the band.
Like The 1900s, Santah is a unit. No singular person, instrument, whatever is more important than another. My eyes jumped around from member to member to member (to member to member). The quintet more or less shares the spotlight.
As well, Santah played some new stuff (newer than anything on White Noise Bed) and it sounded super promising. From what I recall, smooth-as-a-fine-wine southern rock. The tunes (I think three?) seemed to run longer than the rest and unfolded at a gentle pace. I expect good things with their follow-up.
Before I go, a small note on Jonny Rumble. The group, which we covered here back in August, preceded Santah and was a pleasant surprise live. I’m not super familiar with their album — Matt covered it — but know a Jonny Rumble track when I hear it.
Anyway, they amplified whatever I was used to to a high and euphoric degree. They sounded awesome, and I’d, surely, see them again.
- Do yourself a favor and freely stream Santah’s debut LP, White Noise Bed, on the group’s Bandcamp page. Individual tracks can be purchased for $1 each.
- I really need to get back in the habit of taking photos (and video) at shows.
- Santah will next play with California Wives (and Art Majors) at Subterranean on Friday, January 28. Tickets are $10. You’re soo going.