PhilaLive offers open mic night

Featuring poetry, live R&B and art, PhilaLive is well worth giving up Lionshead and Taco Bell for a night.

From singing and rapping to painting and spoken word, PhilaLive offers more than the stereotypical “Thirsty Thursday” party scene.

PhilaLive is an event that features several genres of art, and it is conducted in a manner suited to its name. Performances maintain an upbeat energy for audience members that keep them engaged and involved.

The program begins with musical selections from the house band Dave Watson and the Bad Boyz, a local R&B band. Individuals from the group have toured with artists such as Keyshia Cole, John Legend and Chrisette Michele.

PhilaLive is not the ordinary open mic night. Live music, poetry and even painting are performed by local artists.

Individuals come out to display their talents on stage as poets, rappers and singers, while a painter creates an original piece of art to sale.

“[It’s] a space where artists [have] opportunities to come perform [and] lay their souls on stage,” said Ariana Santiago, co-creator of PhilaLive.

Santiago has hosted and organized live shows in her hometown of Atlanta for the past five years. She established PhilaLive as a way to bring those experiences to North Philadelphia.

“People are passionate about art, especially in Philadelphia,” the junior BTMM major said. “If we can continue to encourage that passion or provide spaces for that passion, I think it will help the community as a whole.”

Santiago met with Dominique Wilkins, CEO of the Konnoisseur Group, a Philadelphia-based event and marketing management company.

Performer Dave Watson and the Bad Boyz begins open mic night at PhilaLive. The event is held the first and third Thursday night at Patterson’s Palace restaurant (Sara Elia/TTN).

After exchanging ideas, the two began laying the groundwork for PhilaLive in December 2007. The first show was held in February.

Santiago’s production company, Liveloud Productions, and the Konnoisseur Group fund PhilaLive, since they do not have sponsors. There is a $7 cover charge for the event.

PhilaLive welcomes anyone interested in the arts. The interactive and high-energy event has seen performers and audience members from Temple, West Chester University, LaSalle University, Drexel University, the Community College of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania. People ranging in age from 14 to 40 attend PhilaLive.

“It has no set demographic,” Santiago said.

When hosting the program, Santiago is known for conversing with the audience to keep the tempo alive. She sometimes jokes about the trials and tribulations of being a college student.

“Once I hit that stage, there’s no telling what’s going to come out of my mouth. My intention is to get you [feeling] alive . . . and get you ready for the next artist, and put them on stage to an audience that’s excited about hearing them,” Santiago said. “Plus, I just like to talk to the audience.”

Local poets perform pieces on topics like love, growing up and even rape. Other open mic performers pour their souls out as singers and rappers.

Amanda Diva, a hip-hop poet, was recently featured as PhilaLive’s artist of the evening. She was a video jockey on MTV2. She performed on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam and worked for SIRIUS Satellite Radio.

Swift Technique, a local jazz and funk group, played at PhilaLive. Visual poet Charles Jean-Pierre from Washington, D.C., served as the painter during a live art performance.

“We book all of the featured artists in advance. The open mic is just open,” Santiago said. “The list goes up at 8 p.m., and people come out [to perform] because they know it’s a welcomed space where they can come and spit whatever their heart desires.”

Santiago gets the word out about PhilaLive through fliers, promotions, e-mail blasts, text messaging and Facebook.

“We are not biased to any specific form or style of advertising,” Santiago said.

PhilaLive’s schedule is reflective of the academic calendar since a majority of its patrons are college students. The fall season runs until Dec. 18, and the spring season begins in February 2009. The event is held Thursdays from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at Patterson’s Palace restaurant, which is located at 1621 Cecil B. Moore Ave.

“We saw a need in Temple’s nightlife to have something artistically cultural and artistically entertaining, not just parties,” Santiago said. “[It’s] your Thursday night alternative.”

Shari DaCosta can be reached at


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