Hippo Campus: Seductively sweet at the Sylvee
Hippo Campus played at the Sylvee this past Friday night, blasting their indie rock tunes to a wild crowd.Image By: Michael Makowski
The Sylvee was beaming with swarms of Minnesota natives and indie rock fans to welcome Hippo Campus this past Friday night.
The venue was overwhelmingly full, but admiration for Luppen, Stocker, Sutton, Allen and Jackson united the mass of humans to embrace their hive-mindedness and enjoy the show.
They nonchalantly strolled on the stage, hidden just barely in the shadows.
They kicked off their set with the tour’s namesake “Bambi” which was bullish yet warm, followed by the poppy “Golden” with a jazzy and wildly satisfactory ending.
Without hesitation, they hopped into their anthem “Way It Goes” which was shockingly seductive — Luppen’s falsetto nearly had me on my knees. They funked up the middle a bit to stray from simply amplifying the radio hit, but rounded it off in its traditional way.
As a group of five St. Paul dudes in their 20s, Hippo Campus naturally resonated very well with the mostly-student crowd, perhaps because many of us were just like them; folks on our way up in the world filled with nostalgia of "Saint Paul Roofs" and winters.
“Baseball” had the hive of folks bopping around in an almost synchronized manner, complete with a little trumpet action. This was surprisingly followed by the warm and ambient “Doubt” that shifted the masses to swaying to the not-quite-grossly-lovey-dovey tune.
Then, honestly, “Honestly” shattered me, with Luppen really milking the vocals, and a drawn-out guitar closed the piece out nicely, with a beautiful transition to the twangy, yet smooth “Vines” that catapulted me directly back to 2017.
“Monsoon” followed, which was loftily mystic, bluesy even, and emphasized the talent that the boys have without the distraction of upbeat keys or feverishly relatable lyricism.
The much-anticipated “South” came next and was the part of the set that surprised me the most. Rather than sticking to the radio edit sound, instrumentals were robust and Luppen’s vocals were raw. The entire venue was under a spell almost, chanting together: “Wise men talk the same way my mother told me/I walk the same way my father told me.”
A highly contrasted “Simple Season” trailed behind, which was a total bubblegum-pink rollercoaster, full of harmony after harmony, then took on a hard-hitting tone, then a funky one, leaving off with Luppen going full nasal in the BEST way possible.
Hippo Campus treated us with an unreleased song, which was angstier than their usual tunes, and even had the teenage crowd head banging it out. Lighting contrasts strategically between dark and bright only added to the dramatic mood.
Next came the drawn out and trippy “Why Even Try,” and the guys mixed it up with a PUNK F*CKING ROCK middle bit, then shamelessly hopped back to a soft tone.
“Think It Over” was overpowering, with pulsating lights to match, and “Bubbles” had a deep drum, starting off almost rave-rockish, then queuing a vibrating sensation across the venue. This half-chaotic, half-calming tune adequately prompted the next few songs.
“Suicide Saturday” was everything I wanted it to be, and had the entire crowd riding the current of positive vibes. Oh, and it ended on another frickin’ falsetto.
“Violet” closed out the set, and damn did it CLOSE. The whole song was piercing, with Luppen’s bellowing voice belting “YOU AND YOUR FUCKED-UP MIND.” The head-bang-worthy jam had some sporadic unsettlingly high notes, which surprisingly made the performance even more beautiful.
Overall, the golden boys of our neighbors to the left did not disappoint, providing a warm and positive space for all fans to enjoy.
Sam Jones is an almanac editor for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of her work, click here.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter