I’ll admit — it’s been a while since I’ve been to church. But this Friday night, in the front row of a Hippo Campus concert, I had what could only be described as a religious experience.
As a Minnesota native, I’ve been following its music for years. The St. Paul-based group consists of Jake Luppen and Nathan Stocker on vocals and guitar, Zach Sutton on bass and Whistler Allen on drums and vocals.
Its set at the Blue Note started with the dreamy and surreal-sounding “Poems,” from its latest album Landmark. It was a slow start to the show, easing the audience into higher-energy songs. From there, the vibe shifted tremendously as they jumped straight into “Suicide Saturday.” This song, from the band’s early EP Bashful Creatures, is decidedly more fun to dance to. The distinctive bass and energetic vocals are reminiscent of Vampire Weekend’s music. The band then seamlessly transitioned back to its newer music with “Western Kids,” another song that practically begs you to dance.
One of the biggest things I look for in a live performance is the emotion that the band members invoke. It is so obvious from watching Hippo Campus that every single member of the band is having the time of their lives. They dance in a way that completely lacks self-consciousness, jumping around and moving with no discernible choreography or planning. The overall energy they give off is one of complete fun — and why wouldn’t it be? This high school band has reached fantastic success over the past few years. It’s played at Lollapalooza, South by Southwest and Bonnaroo. Its first full-length album dropped in 2017, and its newest EP is fantastic, too.
This was the first time I’ve heard their new EP, warm glow, played live. It didn’t disappoint. Every single note was perfect as they ran through “baseball,” “warm glow” and “traveler.”
Halfway through the show, lead singer Luppen reminded the audience that the band’s current tour is raising money for Planned Parenthood. Those who donated outside the show were in the running to win a signed copy of Landmark. Luppen then dedicated a rendition of “South” to the organization.
One of the moments that stood out to me the most from this show was the soulful “Monsoon.” Stocker wrote this song about his sister’s tragic death in a car accident, and it is hauntingly beautiful. I looked around in the crowd and saw a sea of closed eyes and people gently swaying back in forth to the song. It was incredibly powerful, and I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself — a feeling every good concert should evoke.
This was my fourth time seeing Hippo Campus live, and I can truly say the band has only gotten better with time. It has truly mastered the art of providing good energy and vibes in a concert-going experience.
Edited by Brooke Collier | firstname.lastname@example.org