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Thursday, December 01, 2022
Hope Karnopp Hippo Campus (2).jpg

Hippo Campus gives a hard-to-forget first performance on new tour

Concerts are some of the best memories I have made in Madison, and Hippo Campus’ performance at The Sylvee last Thursday was one of them. 

Hippo Campus made Madison the first stop on their new tour, which comes after the release of their LP3 album earlier this month. While their new songs off of this album are undoubtedly quality music, the sold-out crowd responded best to the classics that felt like a throwback to the golden years of indie rock. 

The band’s opener, Jelani Aryeh, was nothing short of impressive. His stage presence and the drummer’s energy roused the crowd, which was almost necessary on a Thursday night during midterms season. Aryeh said that it was not only his first time on tour, but his first visit to the Midwest, which he described as “cold as sh*t.” The crowd shouted along to the final song, “Stella Brown,” proving that he already has significant recognition. 

My friend described him as “wholesome” — the kind of artist that you want to cheer on. 

His ability to blend genres, maintain an ethereal vibe and share personal lyrics was a perfect transition into Hippo Campus, though the set transition did take a while. I don’t think I’ve heard an audience scream so loud when the band finally took the stage. 

The first thing that struck me was frontman Jake Luppen’s vocal range, which was infinitely better live than on recordings. I have never been able to memorize this band’s intricate lyrics, but it was more enjoyable to simply take in Luppen’s talent than it was to try to sing along. He was extremely likable, showing up in an understated Apple T-shirt and joking about the “robot mic.” 

The band as a whole had a really strong sound. I kept waiting to hear more from their trumpeter DeCarlo Jackson. He finally had a moment to shine in the encore, but I would have loved that layer to be brought up a little. 

The crowd was the most excited for Hippo Campus’ classic songs like “Way it Goes,” “warm glow” and “baseball.” I could see a few groups of millennials in the balcony shouting and dancing along with even more energy than the main floor. I could appreciate the new poppier songs like “Ride or Die,” but it was clear that the audience thrived off of the nostalgia of late 2010s indie rock. 

It seemed like Jelani Aryeh and Hippo Campus felt so much joy in performing. Hippo Campus said they were nervous, but they did not show it. Playing live seemed natural for them, and I definitely came out of this concert with a greater appreciation for this band. Hearing their songs will bring me back to my memories of this concert, which are incredibly positive despite being surrounded by what felt like some of the tallest people in Madison. 

Grade: A- 

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Hope Karnopp

Hope Karnopp is the news manager at The Daily Cardinal. She also hosts the Cardinal Call for WORT-FM. She also writes about music and previously covered state politics.

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