With so many forms of artistry being transformed into a commercial obsession, it can be extremely difficult to find pure, artistic and creative expression.
PhilaLive is one of those rare shows where one can still find more than the truth in the expression of art, escaping from the smothered vibes of commercial tantamount.
Every first and third Thursday of the month at Patterson’s Palace, located at 1621 Cecil B. Moore Ave., artists of all types gather at this event to pay homage to creativity.
Four sophomore students – Ariana Santiago, Rajiv Lahens, Nosakhere Khalid and Dominique Wilkins – started the event in January.
“I think before PhilaLive, there weren’t any artist events marketed toward the collegiate, young professional crowd in North Philadelphia,” said Wilkins, a sports recreation and management major.
The group created PhilaLive for substance, a different type of substance from what many college students usually get on a Thursday night. Khalid, a computer information sciences major, said it’s always the same at Thursday night parties, which is why they wanted something different.
“You see the same people, the same music, the same songs,” Khalid said.
Thursday nights at Patterson’s Palace offer a new atmosphere of energy formulated by the performers and given back to the crowd – unlike parties where energy is extracted from the crowd.
“With parties, you kind of feel empty at the end of it,” Wilkins said. “With this, you are actually getting built up, getting inspired.”
Lahens, a finance major, suggested that the experience is almost like a sanctuary. He described it being something similar to an atmosphere of spiritual growth.
Lahens even considers it the “Apollo Theater of North Philadelphia,” in the way that artists can roam free, expressing themselves under creative license. Artists at PhilaLive can read poetry, sing, perform spiritual dances and paint.
Lahens said he knows what they’re doing is not revolutionary, but that they want to offer something new.
“We’re definitely trying to be innovative,” he said.
He and the other co-founders of PhilaLive are attempting to present people in a different light. He said the reason some art is rejected is because of how it is presented. Khalid and Santiago said their presentation is “honest expression.”
The founding members said they see a great deal of talented youth in Philadelphia, many of whom are Temple students. This youth is whom these artists reach out to.
With each show, PhilaLive generally attracts a larger crowd than at the previous performance. The highest attendance reached more than 250 people. May 1 will be their last show of the semester. For the future, the founders do plan to expand the event, but they want to avoid commercialization.
But Lahens said he doesn’t feel as though commercialization is always an evil. The commercial component of entertainment helps reach a larger audience. And with technology, there is no choice but to be commercial. Yet, there is a point where being commercial overshadows the caliber of the art.
“You end up sacrificing the quality to either get more exposure for something, or to bring in more people,” Lahens said.
The co-founders of PhilaLive will work to keep the balance between commercialization and artistry. They said they want to stay artistic and bring in more artists without giving up any artistry.
“It’s not about being famous and having our names out there, it’s about putting together a great event,” Khalid said.
With an expanding message, they can bring a different view to the city, neighborhood and university.
“It’s like a beacon of light in the middle of darkness,” Wilkins said.
Ron Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.