Half past noon on a rainy Friday in February, the HUB was filled with an inescapable feel-good vibe, unusual even for the first day of the weekend in the center of campus. The Noontime Concert Series, run by Penn State’s SPA, brought in Charlie Burg a 21-year-old Detroit native and full-time student at Syracuse University with a knack for blending R&B with a singer/songwriter feel. Burg drew in an enthusiastic crowd almost immediately after playing the first chord on this guitar—a crowd that has him undoubtably featured on more than a few Snapchat stories.
The HUB steps were packed even more than usual as Burg’s magnetic energy and emotionally raw lyrics began to capture a crowd of students who were quick to shout out song suggestions and sing along.
Burg walked the audience through his songwriting process—where inspiration for a chorus will hit out of the blue, leaving him running home to get the words down with a few chords on his guitar in the voice memos on his phone.
“And then that’s it, I won’t be able to write any more—so instead of songs I call them first choruses,” Burg says. “And I’m just gonna play a few of those for you.”
Everything on the hour-long setlist, from his original songs and first choruses to the impromptu acoustic covers of classics, like The Strokes’ “Someday” and Green Day’s “Good Riddance,” (in his own words, “Green Day like you’ve never heard it before”) brought the audience together with a sound that was somehow equal parts high-energy and completely chill. With the performance in full swing, even our very own Nittany Lion stopped by to vibe with the music first-hand.
When the show came to an end after a closing performance of a song written in his self-proclaimed “punk stage,” VALLEY sat down with Burg to talk music.
VALLEY: What made you realize that you wanted to pursue music?
Charlie Burg: Songwriting comes really easy to me and at a certain point when I was performing and writing it just felt natural—it felt easy to continue down that path. It feels fulfilling—I kind of relayed my ability as a performer to bring people together, and that’s really why it’s fulfilling to me.
V: SPA defined your music as “R&B with an acoustic spin;” how would you define your sound?
CB: What was it—indie R&B? Yeah, that’s ok. I’m just as influenced by Al Green as I am by Paramore—I just like to give homage to beauty in whatever way feels right.
V: Whose music would you not be able to live without?
CB: I’d say The Strokes’ music. They offer me something spiritually that I can’t find anywhere else.
V: And what can we look forward to with your music?
CB: I’m putting out a single in a few weeks and in April there’s going to be an EP. I’m working on a few music videos too and potentially a tour in the summer, so we’ll see how all of that goes.
So when it comes to Charlie’s music, VALLEY suggests that you expect one thing and one thing only: a really good time. Check out Burg’s latest single “U Used To” and be sure to keep an eye out for his next EP dropping in early April of this year.