There is injustice in the world, of that there is no doubt. It is evident everywhere we look, including rock ‘n roll. Bands come and go, some of them gaining huge success, others working in near obscurity, and the talent gap isn’t always evident between the two. And then there are bands that simply inspire us. Despite the fact that they have critical acclaim, put out tremendous albums, become purveyors of amazing live shows, and gain a small but devoted following, they never break through to larger fame and fortune. Think Big Star or Graham Parker. It’s a pity. And yet, they keep plugging away and doing what they do simply because they love it. They know they are masters of their craft. They continue to toil away, happily blowing away their devoted fan base and keeping the hope alive. They aren’t chasing money. They are pursuing their dreams.
Philadelphia is an unlikely (and, perhaps unworthy) city to harbor two amazing rock bands that are simply live music powerhouses. And it’s even more unusual that these two bands play the same day, on the same bill, at the same venue. I’ve already told you about the best live rock band going right now, Low Cut Connie. They are AMAZING. But there is another band from Philly that has been churning out great albums and putting on mind-blowing live performances for almost two decades. That band is Marah. And both of these bands performed on Saturday at the Yards Brewery’s Brawlerfest. What a great day that was!
I’ve been a Marah fan since the Kids In Philly album came out in 2002. That album is a great homage to the gritty working class city of Philadelphia where two brothers, Serge and Dave Bielanko, grew up and eventually formed Marah. Since then, Marah has put out a number of great rock ‘n roll albums. There is no other way to describe these guys except as rock ‘n rollers. They play loud, with energetic abandon and good humor. Their music is ripping. They are drinking beer and smoking cigarettes on stage as they move about with abandon. In the crowd, your heart is pounding. Your head is banging. You are smiling and singing along. And all around you, the other devotees are also feeding on the raucous, brash music that the boys are playing. It’s all that is great about pure rock ‘n roll. The best description I have seen of their live shows is the following:
"Their performances are raucous, ramshackle, soulful, and utterly committed to the magical notion that rock is a vehicle for a higher power." - Neil McCormick, The Daily Telegraph
It doesn’t get much better than that. And Marah delivered on a glorious late Saturday afternoon with the skyline of Philly hovering behind the stage in the near distance.
So Philly turned out in droves to see its great rockers, Low Cut Connie and Marah, right? No. I mean HELL NO. There was a bigger line to get pictures taken with UFC lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez, then there were people around the stage for either band. It was ridiculous. I used to think that Philly was a great music town, but lately, I’m having second thoughts. Superb local bands putting out some of the best current music can’t sell out shows. And the city ignores these bands that live here and write songs of deference and tribute to their town. WTF?
Let’s chalk it up to ignorance, ok? And let’s vow to right this wrong.
Here are some pictures of Marah giving it their all on Saturday. One picture is of Serge down in the crowd walking around and singing with his mic chord being lifted over heads by members of the audience. It’s a crappy image, but a cool reality. And the dude with the bagpipes was badass; he also played the Irish whistle during one song. He only accompanied the band for a couple of tunes, but it was fun and different.
So be cool, buy some LCC or Marah albums, and come back to me and say, you know, Bill, you were right, these guys are great. And the next time I ping some of you and say, hey, let’s go check out LCC or Marah at this or that local venue, join me. We’ll go worship at the church of rock ‘n roll and come out refreshed, reenergized, and believing in the higher power of this amazing form of American music. Rock on and thanks for reading.
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.