With a successful premier full length record that peaked as high as #3 on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts under his belt, talented musician Nick Santino decided that embarking on a headlining tour that featured striped down acoustic sets and an intimate environment for fans was next on his list. The laid back approach was not only focused on the environment Santino hoped to provide for fans, but also extended to the artists Santino asked to join him on the road. The Technicolors, Austin Gibbs, Brian Marquis and This Century opened for Santino, and the easygoing friendship throughout the group of performers helped continue the informal and relaxed, style that Santino was aiming for. This tour, aptly named The Long and Winding Roadshow, touched down in New York City on November 7th, where the intimate approach to touring and Santino’s goal to connect with fans on a personal level absolutely hit the mark.
Brennan Smiley, lead singer from The Technicolors kicked off the night at Santos Party House, a small music venue in downtown NYC with an uncharacteristically quiet opening set allowing his distinctive voice to take the spotlight. Though they are known for being a very loud and energetic band, the slower acoustic style of this set was a pleasant change of pace for The Technocolors as a band, and it fit seamlessly into the stylistic goals that Santino is. looking to achieve throughout this tour. In addition to performing several songs from their 2012 album Listener, Smiley also played new songs “One,” “Read My Mind” and current single “Please Don’t Say You Told Me So.”
Austin Gibbs followed The Technicolors with a unique set of his own. Gibbs’ eclectic style and personality is evident on stage and in his music. His unusual sense of humor made for some funny interactions and encounters with fans while he was on stage. Gibbs showed off the spirited “I Like The Ones” and the haunting “Seirra the Serial Killer” from his 2011 album Charlie, before delighting crowd some of his goofy dance moves during a short break in his set. Gibbs also performed the track “So Sad” a standout ballad from his new album To: Pinkem Xoxo released in June of 2014.
Next to take the stage was Brian Marquis, a singer songwriter who had an alternative vibe to some of his music that contrasted the pure rock sound of the two previous acts. He even broke out a harmonica on a few of his songs. The more somber subject matter of many of Marquis’ tracks also set him apart from the other performers in the lineup. Three such songs that he performed were “Young and Dumb” “Drink You Up” and “Burn the Bridge, Swim the River” from his current album Blood & Spirits. Marquis also sang the reminiscent “’84 Rookie Card” a song from his 2011 EP Snow Damage, and the catchy and relatable “I’m Still Chasing You.”
This Century, a group looking to return to their roots in the rock genre after a brief foray into a more pop influenced sound was the last band to perform before Santino would take the stage. Armed with catchy hooks, relatable lyrics, and impressive stage presence, and an extensive arsenal of hit songs, This Century had no problems keeping fans on their feet for their entire set. The band also used a loop to create and keep the beat for many of the songs they performed, which was a cool piece of technology, especially for those that are unfamiliar with it. They kicked off their set with the upbeat “Slow Dance Night,” the first single from their most current album Biography of Heartbreak, released in 2013. They followed up with “My Weakness,” “Skeletons” and the sun kissed “Bleach Blonde” three more tracks from their current album. This Century ended their set with two songs from their popular 2011 album Sound of Fire, the easy to sing along with “To Love and Back” and and the rocking “Sound of Fire” both of which had the crowd singing the lyrics right back to them.
By the time Santino stepped onto the stage, the crowd was revved up and highly anticipating his headlining set. With thoughtful, personal lyrics, skillful songwriting and an introspective nature, Santino’s music is suited perfectly for the type of intimate, acoustic sets he is playing on this tour. During his set, he played a wonderful mix of his two country influenced EPs Going Home (July 2013) and The Ones You Meet Along the Way (October 2013), and his debut album as a solo artist Big Skies, released in May of 2014. From his first EP, Santino performed “Miss Virginia” and the sweet “It’s Alright.” Switching to his second EP, he sang Goddamn, a heartfelt and intense track. Throughout his set, Santino was joined on stage by his openers and friends, Gibbs, Marquis, Smiley, and This Century so that they could perform together, once again promoting a casual, family atmosphere. As good as his EPs are, Santino clearly matures as an artist and songwriter on Big Skies. It is on this record that he clearly finds his sound as a musician. Santino went on to perform six songs from his current album for a very appreciate crowd that were well versed in all of the musicians lyrics. Singles “Can’t Say I Miss You,” and “Jackson Browne” are very different stylistically but were both fan favorites. A striped down version of “Bad Taste” was one of the many highlights of the night, and fans appreciated the humor written into “Gone Like Yesterday.” Despite an acoustic set, Santino was still able to up the tempo a bit on the rocker “Mood Ring Eyes.” Joined one last time on stage by his friends, Santino ended the an amazing night and set with the irresistibly catchy “Long Way Home,” letting the crowd carry the chorus at the end of the performance.
From the cozy venue and striped down acoustic sets, to having fun with his friends on stage and selling his own merch for most of the night, Santino achieved his goal of an intimate and laid back, fan-oriented show. As he continues to travel and make music, Santino hopes to keep the same informal approach to his tours. Santino care about his fans, and wants to provide them with a unique concert environment and concert experience every night, and this is exactly what defines him as a musician and a performer.
Review by Taylor Ostrick