Arts

Hippo Campus gives mesmerizing, intimate performance

Hippo Campus has changed the dynamics of their sound and mood with every new release; it is clear that the band is not afraid to play around with different instruments, vocals and pace.

Image By: Photo Courtesy of Cara Suplee

In Chicago’s Vic Theatre, the room went dark and the crowd came alive. We knew what this meant — Hippo Campus was finally ready to perform, and we were more than ready to listen. Shades of blue lighting immediately hit the stage and outlined the band. Lead vocalist Jake Luppen let his voice pervade the room that had now fallen silent with suspense. His melodic tone carried the lyrics to the song “Poems” as the other band members let their instruments slowly seep into the rhythm. The beginning of “Poems” feels like a dream — unhurried and soothing. After a minute or so, however, all of the instruments come in at once to create this burst of euphoria. Although it was not clear to me at first, it now seems obvious why the band chose this song to open with. The initial dreamy feel and the knowledge that a vibrant chorus is seconds away generates this palpable, unmistakable electricity in the crowd that sets up the rest of the night for high spirits and success.

After energizing the crowd with another big hit, “Suicide Saturday,” Hippo Campus members began to introduce themselves and Luppen excitedly recounted how they performed in Chicago a few years back. This was different, though. This was their show and they had the entire night to do what they do best. With this freedom, the band played their choice of songs, choosing from their latest album, Landmark, while also sprinkling in a few familiar favorites. A devoted fan myself, I feel like I have shared the exhilaration that Hippo Campus must feel as they continue to rise in the industry and build a loyal fanbase. Through this, I have noticed the changing dynamics of their sound and mood with every new release. It is clear they are not afraid to play around with different instruments, vocals and pace. The thing that I find so unique about this, however, is that although each stage has its own distinct differences, all of their songs have found a way to interconnect. This gives the band a broad spectrum of sound while still maintaining their quirky, blissful aura they have worked diligently to preserve.

This is why the band’s surprising performance of a new song, yet to be released, was beautifully distinguished from the set, while still reflecting their current style. Hippo Campus released an EP in September called Warm Glow consisting of three songs. The final track fittingly shares the EP’s title, as it captures the beauty of a couple sitting beneath a tree watching the hazy sun sink past the horizon, while simultaneously producing a meditative beat. This same mesmerizing melody was apparent in their new song but it also held its own with an upbeat twist.

I have been to my fair share of concerts and I can say without a doubt that this show was unlike any other. Hippo Campus is the type of band that is truly meant to be listened to live and I think everyone in the audience was aware of this. Looking around, I noticed that not many people were holding their phones up and attempting to videotape every possible song, aside from the occasional picture. Instead, everyone seemed to genuinely want to experience the music and feel it deeply; I found myself doing the same thing. I snapped a few pictures, then slid my phone into my pocket. I decided to live completely in the moment, feeling the vibration of the floor and watching the technicolor lights collaborate with the bass. The fact that Hippo Campus had the power to pull us all out of our daily stress and obsession with technology is incredible. I danced freely as the band finished with an encore of “Violet,” captivated by layers of lighthearted sound and lyrical poetry. As the song came to a close and the crowd began to file out back into the Chicago streets, I exited the theatre wishing I could have thanked the band who gave me such a special memory.

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