Merry Christmas, Philadelphia! The Bielanko brothers, Serge and Dave, and their great band, Marah, performed their Philly holiday spectacular last night at Underground Arts. They brought along a slew of people to enhance the show – the three women back-up singers known as the Shalitas, a four piece horn section, Matt Cappy on bagpipe/tin whistle, and the standard five-piece lineup of the main attraction itself. It was awesome, and is going to be a BRP holiday tradition going forward.
Regular readers know that I saw Marah in November at BrawlerFest, and I thought that they rocked it hard. A great live act? Yes, one of the best that Philly has ever produced. So I was pumped to see them again last night. And, man oh man, they did not disappoint.
Underground Arts is an interesting club. It was festooned for the Christmas season with decorative candy striping on the exposed pipes, garland, and a Christmas tree on stage. Which was perfect for the holiday spectacular. Marah came out and got right into the spirit of the season with a snow machine that sent the flakes flying on the stage while the band rocked. You can see the snow in some of the pictures below. Dave B. also wore a Santa hat during the show, and drummer Dave Peterson ended the show by dumping the Christmas tree onto his kit – primarily because he was exhausted and he just couldn’t play anymore.
Marah played a solid three hours. And they put on their normal ramshackle, raucous, uninhibited rock ‘n roll show that was remarkable in so many ways. It all started with Cappy blowing on the bagpipes, and ended with 16 people on stage (including the two roadies!) cranking through Christmas tunes and Auld Lang Syne. In between were great original rock songs, a cover of “Love Train,” a break from the stage with Dave B. jumping onto the UA bar and playing two songs on the banjo/acoustic guitar, and a heckuva lot of fun all around. It was the type of show that had me grinning from ear to ear, and my two buddies in full agreement that it was a great show.
The audience was full tilt, too. UA felt more like a frat house basement than a commercial rock club, with many people there who knew the boys in the band. People sang, danced, rocked and reveled in a great festive environment. Serge came into the crowd at one point, sang a song (see the photo below – he was right by me) and a roadie followed him around with some mistletoe at the end of a pole, allowing Serge to kiss some of the adoring fans, both male and female. It was cool, and fired up the crowd. And Marah fed off the audience, and gave a truly spirited show in their beloved hometown.
I took a lot of photos, and some came out great, and some have some bald guy's head in them. Of course, I pushed my skinny butt up close to the stage so that helped to get some badass shots. There are more pictures below than I typically put into a post because I wanted you to get a sense of what was going on and to see as many of the performers as possible (and, believe it or not, I weeded it down just to the most choice shots). Dave and Serge were clearly the highlights, but the entire scene was super cool.
Enjoy and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to the entire BRP legion of loyal readers – yes, all three of you (I told you readership was up!).
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.