When I think of high-energy bands, Hippo Campus isn’t exactly the first one that pops into my head. I consider their dreamy, synth-y sound to be pretty chill, so I didn’t expect a lot of on-stage antics when they performed at the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre. Imagine my surprise when when they bounced onto the stage amid dramatic lighting and struck the first notes of the title cut from their new album, “Bambi.” Although the song itself isn’t a real banger, lead vocalist Jake Luppen sang his heart out to the crowd, who reacted with heartfelt enthusiasm.
The five-piece band from Minneapolis, which also consists of Nathan Stocker (lead guitar/vocals), Zach Sutton (bass/keyboard), Whistler Isaiah Allen (drums/vocals) and DeCarlo Jackson (trumpet/percussion), played a solid fifteen-song set of primarily upbeat tunes. The setlist was weighted heavily with new songs from “Bambi,” but also included songs from their early EPS, and finished with a bang with “Suicide Sunday.” After the requisite exit from the stage, they came back to play “Violet” and “Buttercup” for their encore.
I have to say I was impressed by the quality of the music and showmanship these guys produced, especially given their relative youth and short time together. Their rapport with the crowd was great, with plenty of eye contact and just the right amount of back & forth between frontman Luppen and the audience. Luppen drove the show’s energy with kicks & jumps, as well as his enormous grin. He could be the poster child for my favorite hashtag, dowhatyoulove. But the rest of the band also put on a great show, jamming and bouncing around in a manner that was actually a little more pop-punk than indie. Frankly, I loved it.
Although most bands strive to re-create the sound of their studio work when they’re in concert, I’m very glad Hippo Campus takes their live act up a notch; it’s just great entertainment. Keep an eye on these guys – I think they have big things in store for them.