Five-piece band Dos Santos on an outdoor stage in early evening, lit in indigo light
Dos Santos headlined Saturday night at Midsommarfest, which returned to in-person in 2022 for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Credit: Philip Montoro

If you care about music, you’ve surely encountered the particular frustration of finding a band you know you should like. You listen to their albums, and you can tell they’re good, but the sparks don’t fly. That was my relationship to Chicago five-piece Dos Santos—until I finally saw them live at last year’s Midsommarfest. 

Dos Santos play a hybrid strain of rock ’n’ roll that incorporates chicha, cumbia, psychedelia, and more. Their 2021 album, City of Mirrors, is an expertly crafted recording: the many layers of its kaleidoscopic arrangements have been carefully placed in sonic space to create a lush, wide-screen panorama. But as vibrant as it is, it never even tries to sound like a group of people making music in real time right in front of you.

I’m an old punk rocker, so I prefer bands whose shows top their records—if you can’t move somebody more powerfully in person, are you even trying? At Midsommarfest, Dos Santos proved they can. They played to a big, relaxed audience during a balmy indigo sunset, and they moved as a single creature—like a big cat that shows its strength even in its most serene and sensual movements. People danced in groups and couples, kids rode around on their parents’ shoulders or chased each other through the crowd—and everyone swam in the same rhythm.

Phone video by Philip Montoro of Dos Santos at Midsommarfest 2022

Best of Chicago 2022 is presented by


Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.