Marah – 7th Street Entry (Minneapolis, MN)
After playing Friday and Saturday in the main room at First Avenue opening for Twin Cities darlings the Jayhawks, Philadelphia misfits Marah ventured next door to the intimate 7th Street Entry later Saturday night to play their third gig in two days. Yeah, they looked tired, but even more so they were, well, hammered.
With a beer caddy that nicely attached to the mike stand, the four band members stumbled onstage and prepared to put on a show that wasn’t for the squeamish. The bass player told a truly distasteful joke about a dead body and shrimp; they made remarks about needing more chicks in the audience; they slurped down beers like they were bottled holy water. But somehow the unofficial ringmaster of Marah, singer/guitarist David Bielanko, didn’t seem like one of the bad guys. Instead, he assisted in making the show a wickedly satisfying experience.
“This is for you bad kids and sinners like me,” Bielanko announced just moments before the band broke into “Boat”. The tainted, gospel-inspired number fit the garage-grounded band perfectly: They allowed the frantic inner spirit of the song to take control. On one of their relatively new songs, “Reservation Girl”, Bielanko took on the role of solo singer-songwriter in the beginning. Not long after he introduced the song’s subjects — a white guy, a Native American woman and a baby — the rest of the gang broke in for an extended instrumental ending.
Later on, the band introduced another new song, “Living On The Road”, the product of a recent studio collaboration with members of Wilco, Blue Mountain and Neckbone. With the wild call of an out-of-control banjo and hyper-hillbilly cries from Bielanko’s brother and fellow guitarist Serge, it was a song that came straight from the front porch — albeit a very dirty front porch. Ending things on a grim note, the band covered Lou Reed’s “Warrior King”, leaving the audience with a distinct taste in their mouths — bitter to some, succulent to others.