Penn's very own the Pale Nimbus knows something is missing from this university's campus. And so do their fans. With a loyal group of followers that affectionately call themselves "The Nimbusles," the band, comprised of College students, is looking to deliver some long overdue rock and roll to a deprived University City. "Ultimately, if I could leave the campus with one mark it would be to re-establish the live music scene," says drummer Jarrett Wetherell, a senior. The other members of the five-piece outfit undoubtedly share his sentiments, as they enthusiastically take the stage at MarBar every Wednesday night. "My week begins and ends on Wednesdays," says guitarist and senior Chase McGowan.
The fervor from the Pale Nimbus quintet didn't blossom overnight. As guitarist, vocalist and senior Garrett Drinon says, "It's been a long process. We've had a band name picked out since sophomore year but no band to name." While the elite pale nimbus business card in Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho (from which the band got its name) is a nod to shallow '80s consumer culture, the Pale Nimbus rock band, ironically, was born out of a love for the music of the '60s youth counterculture. In October 2005, Wetherell, McGowan, Drinon, junior bassist Chris Davidson and sophomore keyboardist Zack Moscow landed a gig at Penn's beloved Smokes', where they repeatedly packed the place on Sunday evenings. Impressively, the guys of the Pale Nimbus captured the fortitude and raw energy of music from decades past in the spirit of the legendary rock gods that have influenced the band's infectious sound. By the end of the semester, crowds were exceeding the maximum occupancy at the bar. When the start of the spring term came around, the band decided to move their convincing Cream and Zeppelin renditions to the newer and bigger MarBar several doors down.
So far, the switch has worked in their favor. Like true rock and roll musicians, each member makes sufficient use of such perks as "limitless bar tabs" and the liberty of "smoking a joint or two amongst friends," which has ended with the shrill scream of a smoke alarm or the "aggressive removal of our best buddy by MarBar management," says Wetherell.
At this early stage in the band's career, much of its live set revolves around covers of quintessential classic rock songs such as Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," and the Doors' "Riders on the Storm." The musicians' chemistry is apparent in the improvisational jams they add to covers, as well as in the several originals they currently incorporate into their set. More original music awaits in the foreseeable future, but as Drinon explains, "right now we want to keep it fresh and really keep the crowd into it."
Entertaining the crowd with their music doesn't appear to be too much of an issue for these guys, as they've been doing it since they were kids; Moscow has played classical piano since he was four, and both Davidson and Wetherell started out in punk bands during their teenage years, where they were able to develop their stage presence. Wetherell admits his first brush with stardom came when he was 13 years old and college radios started playing his punk band's "Johnny's on Viagra." "It's kind of embarrassing," he confesses.
Well, when the day comes for the Pale Nimbus to debut on air, this band can rest assured that there won't be anything to be embarrassed about.