Concert Review: Hippo Campus
By Erin Slack
In their first-ever concert in South Carolina, Hippo Campus sure knew how to bring down the house. Hailing from Minnesota, Hippo Campus combines indie-rock music with electronic sounds, along with some trumpets thanks to DeCarlo Jackson. Other members are Jake Luppen (lead vocals/guitar), Nathan Stocker (lead guitar/vocals), Zach Sutton (bass/keyboard), and Whistler Isaiah Allen (drums/vocals). They formed in 2013 and released their first EP (Tarzan Rejects) in the same year. Their concert in Columbia was on November 1st at The Senate venue, standing room only.
I’m not joking when I say that this was probably the most energy-filled, fun, exciting, and all-around amazing concert that I have been to. This was also the first concert where I decided to go alone. I feel as if when you go to concerts with other people, you sometimes become hindered to follow certain rules so that they do not judge you. So when I saw that Hippo Campus was coming here, I made the decision to try going out and having fun by myself. I didn’t have to plan much, I didn’t have to pick people up, and I got to decide everything about how I acted at the concert. I jumped around, screamed to just about every song, and even talked to some girls who were standing next to me. I forced myself out of my comfort zone through this concert and I highly recommend doing the same thing as long as you are safe about it.
Hippo Campus has recently released their album titled Demos II, which joins Demos I in their list of 2019 releases. Before that, they released the album Bambi which was greeted with much satisfaction from their fans. Their 2017 album Landmark was what probably jump-started their still-growing following, with it ranking at #140 on the Billboard 200 charts. Landmark was the first album by them that I personally heard and I knew from that first listen that they would be a growing a successful band. The quality of the songs along with the smooth transitions between songs created satisfaction and I thoroughly enjoy listening to their music.
Before we get into the main part of the concert itself, I have to talk about the openers. The Greeting Committee (appropriate name for an opening band) hyped the audience up so much. They created such a fun atmosphere that set the mood for the entire night. The lead singer, Addie Sartino, was continuously jumping, yelling, and dancing as if truly no one was watching. I can not imagine the amount of confidence that takes. Her amazing bangs (which I got a reply about on Twitter) combined with her bright pink suit were only the visual aspects of the performance. The rest of the band contributed greatly, with Brandon Yangmi on guitar, Pierce Turcotte on bass, and Austin Fraser drums. Turcotte also pulled out what I believe was a tenor saxophone (I am really not an instrument person, shout out to my friend Aaron for assisting me with the name) and impressed everyone with his skills. The songs were emotional, yet upbeat and danceable. They make the type of music that you can either sit alone in your room and cry to or scream at the top of your lungs while driving down the highway. You could really feel the emotions that were conveyed through each song and it was a fulfilling experience.
Okay okay, now let’s get to the juicy part. Hippo Campus exudes everything a good boy band needs to consist of. The typical boyband makes pop music that appeals to a larger general audience, but Hippo Campus performs their own version of indie rock. I think that they have tactics in which allows them to draw even more people in. Sure, all of their members appeal to the typical girl, but I think that the depth of their music allows even more people to enjoy their songs. The depth may not be in the lyrics necessarily, but just listening to their music creates a calming sense that everything is going to be alright.
Honorable songs performed include “Bambi,” “Baseball,” “Way It Goes,” “Honestly,” and finally “Buttercup” as the encore. “Way It Goes” was the first song I ever heard from Hippo Campus and I definitely had it on repeat for months after finding it through my Spotify discover. I would highly recommend checking it out, along with the rest of the Landmark album. If listened to straight through (not shuffled) you may feel like you aren’t listening to individual songs, but a whole story told through the songs which transition into each other. “Honestly” is also one of my favorite songs, although it is shorter. I’ll be honest, any song you listen to this band will exceed expectations in their own ways, whether it be by the lyrics, vocal talent, or instrument abilities.
The band’s true talent comes out when seen live. I was particularly impressed by DeCarlo Jackson’s performance on the trumpet. His role may be quick to overlook, as with this concert he was staged closer to the back and wasn’t prevalent in a few songs. However, it sets the band apart that they have those fun trumpet sections. It allows the audience to not get bored and brings them into the performance. Something else that I noticed is that while Jake Luppen is the lead vocalist and would be assumed to be the “leader” of the band, it seemed like the lead guitarist, Nathan Stocker, filled that leadership role. Stocker is the one who talked to the audience a majority of the time while also announcing a few song titles and the encore. This dynamic shift also sets the band apart so that the listeners are more prone to focus on every member of the band and not just the frontman. I was not expecting the audience to know a majority of the songs, and everyone around me singing and jumping inspired me to jump around and sing louder. I think that this created a domino effect, as it probably happened in other places in the venue.
I had an amazing time at this concert. I am thoroughly impressed by Hippo Campus’s performance and I really do hope that they can make it in the music industry. They are already on the rise and continue to grow their fanbase. Their combination of indie, electronic, and other genres really creates an original sound that appeals to people. If you are interested in listening to any of their songs, which I highly recommend, they are available on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music.