[Photo by Celene Koller]
Friday, February 24th marked the night of many exciting events. I had the pleasure of seeing some hometown gems, Hippo Campus, their album, Landmark, was finally released (and a review will be coming soon!), and Neumos reopened after shutting its doors for some remodeling. But seeing Hippo Campus wasn’t the same as the other five times I’ve seen them before.
In the past, whenever I saw Hippo Campus, I was surrounded by people supporting their hometown band. It isn’t too often a group of young boys out of Minnesota becomes really successful the way Hippo Campus has managed to. Before doors opened, though, I was surprised to find many fans from Minnesota in line for the show. Even KXSU reporter Anna Kaplan introduced me to some of her friends from Minnesota (#blessed).
9:00 p.m. on the dot hit, and out walked Magic City Hippies, a local group from Miami. As they started to play, I was hit with a groovy rhythm, but as soon as the lead singer, Robby Hunter, began to sing, I was unable to understand any words from his mouth. I thought to myself, “It’s just the first song, give them a chance.”
Throughout their set, I was confused with the sudden switch in tempos, and with no transitions whatsoever. Most songs were accompanied by some uncomfortable rapping, closely followed by distortions. In the middle of their set, it was announced that it was the band’s first time touring, so maybe there’s hope for their live performances in the future. Usually, the opener pumps me up for the headlining band, but Magic City Hippies achieved the opposite. I gave them a chance, but they’re just not my kind of music.
Once Magic City Hippies exited the stage, I was trying to pump myself up for Hippo Campus. This was it: sixth time’s the charm right? (I don’t know if I should pride myself for that or feel embarrassed…) Around 10:00 p.m., my friends and I, also from Minnesota, were trying to guess what songs they would play. We had high hopes for our hometown emo anthem, “The Halocline.” Fifteen minutes later, the lights dimmed and the synthy opening to the song, “Sun Veins,” began. Onstage appeared those four very nice-looking guys: Jake, Nathan, Whistler, and Zach. The words, “Say my name, with your sunlight veins,” filled the venue, causing screams, and then silence. Moments later, “Sun Veins” very smoothly transitioned to “Way it Goes.”
Throughout the night, Hippo Campus mixed up their set with new songs from Landmark, as well as some old ones. They graced the crowd with many of their hits like “Suicide Saturday,” “Little Grace,” and “South,” and made sure to highlight some newer material, including “Simple Season,” “Poems,” and “Buttercup.” Towards the middle of their set, the four guys slowed it down for a very personal song, “Monsoon,” dedicated to guitarist Nathan Stocker. The somber sound of the piano and harmonies that carried the song settled a strong silence across the crowd (especially during the repeated lines, “It should’ve been me…”).
Hippo Campus’ musicality was a solid reminder to fans that the band is continuously growing, and it’s just the beginning of a long journey. One thing I noticed that really bothered me, though, was the hesitancy of dancing throughout the crowd. It felt like only small parts of the crowd were really enjoying themselves, while the boys were feeding the crowd with a ton of energy. Whatever, I’m over it. I had an amazing time jumping and dancing throughout the entire set.
I was heartbroken when the band ended with their very upbeat song, “Boyish,” and never returned for an encore. Much of the crowd was also very disappointed, and some people started to tell each other that “they don’t do encores” while everyone exited Neumos. My friends and I looked at each other in blasphemy. We’ve personally become incredibly used to Hippo Campus coming back out and almost always ending the night with “Violet” and “The Halocline.” (RIP, I guess that’s just a thing they do in MN?)
Although I won’t be able to see at least one of their two sold-out nights at First Avenue in Minnesota, I was happy to be able to attend the show on the day of their release of Landmark. It was a night for the books.
CELENE KOLLER | RIP Encore | KXSU Music Reporter