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Hip hop artist Hoodie Allen performs live at The Blue Note on Feb. 22 during his Happy Camper tour. His next stop on the tour is at The Pageant in St. Louis, MO. on Feb. 24.

Jennifer Levin/Staff Photographer

Hoodie Allen's loyalty to fans shows in his concert performance

Hoodie Allen’s show on Monday had many fans leaving as “happy campers.”

By Grant Sharples | Feb. 23, 2016

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As I made my way to The Blue Note to interview pop-rapper Hoodie Allen before his show last Monday, I saw countless fans already queued up for the show four hours before it started in relatively cold weather. I already understood that his fans (the Hoodie Mob) were remarkably loyal, but this was a loyalty beyond my expectations. I was astounded.

“I decided really early on that I wanted to have this sort of relationship (with my fans) that was very open and very communicative,” Allen says. “I think it’s helped foster a really strong connection.”

Allen makes an effort to connect with his fans.

“I think it’s cool that we live in a day and age where if you do become a fan of someone, there is an opportunity to engage with them directly,” Allen says. “I can’t imagine if the 12-, 13-year-old version of myself got to talk to Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 on Twitter. Since I have this platform, I want to give kids that feeling of, ‘We’re all people, and I appreciate you supporting me.’”

It’s no doubt that Allen loves his fans as much as his fans love him. He never fails to respond to his fans on social media and express his gratitude. Allen even posted an infographic on Twitter that listed various ways to meet him on tour.

Along with Allen’s reputation for being loyal to his fans, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in marketing and finance and temporarily worked at Google.

“Those are obviously two things that jump out at people because it’s rare to work at Google and it’s rare to finish college,” Allen says. “Those were things that I was very interested in doing, but at the same time I was always doing music as my passion. It was the thing I was putting all my time into outside of class and outside of work. It was something I was developing at the same time I would say.”

Despite having immediate post-graduate success lined up with a full-time job at Google, he found music to be his calling in life, and he fully accepted the risks and challenges that came with it.

“I started writing songs when I was 11 or 12,” Allen says. “I can’t really tell you why because it was something that I was just doing after school in the same way that someone would take up drawing or piano. I was drawn to it. Over those next eight years, it became more serious as I developed my music taste. I got to the point where I was putting out music and people were responding to it and liking it outside of my social circle. It just fell into place like that.”

During “Surprise Party,” dozens of yellow balloons with the “Happy Camper” logo rained down on the crowd during the final chorus. Later in the concert, he threw an inflatable raft into the crowd, and after jumping into it, the crowd carried him (all the way to the back of the room).

There are certain parts of a live performance that Allen deems to be important, such as having a live band (as opposed to a backtrack) and high energy.

“I think it’s important for the music to sound different live than it does on the record, better really, like more dynamics and more musicality,” Allen says.

Allen argues that a live band is vital to putting on a good show because it gives the performance more substance.

“You’re giving people a live experience, you just don’t want to rap over a beat,” Allen says. “That’s no fun. The energy has always been there with the band, and we’ve been able to up the production on this one too and give a cool light and video show. I think we’ll have the effect of ‘wow, we’re really giving an experience,’ and that was an important next step for me with this tour.”

While the live performance itself was captivating, the music Allen and his band were playing also caught my attention. The lyrics from his new LP, “Happy Camper,” seem more substantial than his previous works, and while there’s still a joyous, light-hearted tone to his music, there’s more of a meaning this time around.

“The title comes from the idea that I put myself out there on social media and that the world is a very happy, smiley thing,” Allen says. “I also want to recognize the fact that that’s not how people are all the time. We censor ourselves for things like social media to give the appearance of being happy at all times for others’ approval or whatever the psychology behind that might be.”

Allen explains that the album’s lyrical themes do not revolve around gloom, but more so around honesty.

“I think on this album there’s a mixture of songs that speak to happiness and nostalgia and then there’s things that talk about all the anxiety that goes between making music and feeling like you have to reach certain goals you’ve set for yourself and not wanting to disappoint the people around you,” Allen says. “On this project, I’m trying to speak honestly about a range of emotions that come when you’re trying to achieve something that’s not so easy to achieve.”

Allen put on a great performance at The Blue Note on Monday night. His dedicated fanbase augmented the overall experience. Whether you were a fan of his music or not, you were bound to have fun. The light and video production was an impressive show alone. But Allen and his band were brimming with an energy that’s rare in many live performers today.

Edited by Katherine Rosso | krosso@themaneater.com

To see more coverage, check out our concert gallery.

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