I’ve been talking a lot about the younger set of musicians coming up in Salem and how the scene needs to start accommodating more all-ages venues. One of these bands, one that has inspired me to look deeper into the younger crowd is Percy Lounge. About a year ago, I started a list of all the bands I could find in town, and then tried to find their music and have a listen. At the time, Percy Lounge was intriguing to me – maybe it was as simple as their name, but all I could find online was a YouTube video of them performing live at an outdoor show. The sound was a bit lacking on the recording. But the lead singer was wonderful to watch – his incredible energy came through, even if the sound didn’t. I saw that they played some house shows and private events at Willamette University where all five members attend. I put them on the back burner.

Last December I got my wish. Lead singer Reed Bertran contacted me and invited me to a pre-Christmas break party at IKE Box for WU students only. I accepted, of course. I hadn’t been a college student for a couple decades and wasn’t sure what to expect. Pleasantly surprised is cliche and an understatement. It was some of the best music I’d heard in Salem and they were just these young whipper-snappers. The crowd was definitely there to see them and the energy feeding back and forth between Bertran and the crowd was tangible; as if Bertran needs anymore energy on-stage. He gives it all he’s got, and I’m afraid if he gave anymore the place would burst into flames.

Photo credit: Forrest Smith

I excitedly talked to him after the show and paid all my compliments and asked if they had a record. They were working on one as we spoke and was expected it to be finished in March or April. Well, it’s April and I’ve been listening to their self-titled EP daily. Which is to say I love it. It’s so different than anything else around here: it’s rock, funk, poppy with definite elements of jazz thrown in the mix. The foremost thing that strikes me about these young musicians is the maturity of their songwriting. I’ve always appreciated bands that allow the music to breathe – allow space. I also love a loud, in-your-face, wall-of-sound band; but Percy Lounge writes some seriously catchy and tastefully done tunes. Their new EP is on Bandcamp – so go take a listen and then buy it.

I sat down with the guys last week at IKE Box, and I met five very intelligent and thoughtful humans. I take great comfort in that. Hope for the future type of thing. Percy Lounge is Reed Bertran on vocals, Henry Coba on keys and trombone, Brenden Ramirez on guitar, Nick Burton on Bass, and Jasper Gill on drums. Three members are music majors and there’s also some communications and political science in the mix. They all go to Willamette and talked about how being a “Willamette band” can be isolating in regards to the music scene. The shows at WU are usually private, student only affairs and they want to somehow bridge the divide between WU and the music scene. We agreed that was a toughie, and agreed that the path leads them to playing out in the community. Which, they have been doing a lot lately.

It’s important to them that they play all-ages shows as often as possible. It’s the only way their friends can come see them. They also made it clear that they want to be a Salem band – not just a Willamette band. Yes, please!

They’ve got a bunch of shows lined up before they scatter to their respective hometowns for summer break. But they were clear: They’ll be back and ready to be active members of our scene.

Here’s your chance to see what I think is one of the best bands in town. Percy Lounge will be playing April 15th at Shotskis; April 21st with Wild Ire (their album release) at IKE Box; April 28th at Venti’s Downtown; April 29th at Wulapalooza on the Willamette campus and May 6th at Taproot. All the shows except Taproot are all-ages, staying true to their commitment. This is definitely a band to look out for, and you’ve got ample opportunity to check them out and support Salem’s next generation.

P.S. “Percy” is Henry’s cat.

Photo by Henry Coba