Written By | Jason Vega
After 3 years, Neal Francis returns to Chicago’s Thalia Hall. Francis was accompanied by alt-Latinx band Dos Santos. Dos Santos kicked the night off with “Caminate” a beautiful mix of psychedelic rock and jazz. The band paired with Alex Chavez’s gritty vocals filled the room and sent chills down my spine. Chavez has a unique twang to his voice and so much control over it, he could entrance anyone with it. The band does a phenomenal job of mixing elements of traditional Mexican folk, salsa, and cumbia with jazz, r&b, and punk. Their unique and very progressive style is definitely unlike anything I have heard before.
See more photos of Dos Santos HERE
The band played many songs on their newer album “City of Mirrors”. A few of my favorites were ” A Tu lado”, “White. Lies.” and “Crown me”. The band closed off their set with a bunch of cumbia and salsa songs that ad many surf punk and ska elements looking out into the crowd saw couples laughing and dancing.
Not long after Neal Francis took the stage. Opening with “Say your prayers” a song of his 2021 album In Plain Sight. He played many songs on this album and left a lot of himself on that stage. He played ” These are The Days off his 2019 album ” Changes” followed by “Problems” and “Alameda Apartments.” During which the crowd danced swayed and sang along. The band did a cover of “strawberry Letter 23” By Shuggie Otis. They added their own twist to the song fully making it their own.
See more photos of Neal Frances HERE
Neal Francis also had a lot of family in the crowd that night. It was beautiful to see all of them supporting him and his band. I had the chance to talk with his cousin who shared many great stories about Neal Francis. He gave his family a quick shout out thanking them for everything and reminding the crowd of the importance of family and support.
Closing the night off with “Changes pt1&2” and “Sentimental Garbage”. Neal’s raspy voice and screams accompanied by the feel-good groovy music had everyone up and out of their chairs. Once it was time for Neal to say goodnights his family could be heard chanting ” Ohara”. Looking over at them you could see the pride in their eyes and the love they had for him pouring out.
To top the night off I got to speak to Neal Francis after the show. We spoke briefly about sobriety and how that impacted his music, as well as how his music impacted my life. He was very kind and I Had the best time talking with him. All in all, it was a beautiful show and I’m glad I finally got to see him live after all these years. I recommend you go listen to both Dos Santos and Neal Francis as they are incredibly talented artists with such amazing stage presence. I hope to get to see Neal Francis and Dos Santos again in the future as they left me wanting more.
Photos By | Jason Vega