REVIEW: Hippo Campus concert

Hippo+Campus+rocked+Riverside+Theater+Sept.+26+as+part+of+their+tour+promoting+their+third+album.

Photo by Angelina Galullo

Hippo Campus rocked Riverside Theater Sept. 26 as part of their tour promoting their third album.

Hippo Campus proves true the rumor that their band sounds better live than recorded at the Riverside Theater last Thursday night.

As the Minneapolis band took the stage, a quiet murmur spread across the crowd. Opening with “2 Young 2 Die,” a newer song off their 2022 album, “LP3,” the band began their 20-song stint around 9 p.m. 

Besides having a bold stage presence and a loud sound, the band has a dynamic relationship with each other while performing and could often be seen whispering, smiling and interacting with each other away from the microphone.

The band was dressed very modest, furthering the theme of minimalism. Drummer Whistler Allen was wearing merchandise from the opening act, Chai, a Japanese dream pop-punk girl group that performed their new album “Wink,” in both Japanese and English.

The audience was on the older side, with the majority of concertgoers being millennials or over, attending the show with a spouse, which shocked me.

Jake Luppen, lead singer of the indie band, only stopped the show to say hello to the audience, thank fans and announce the band has been officially together for over nine years, first making music at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts.

Hippo Campus played a wide variety of their five record discography but focused on their newer music.

The stage design was rooted in minimalism. Keeping the set as simple as possible, the band performed with nothing but a white tapestry behind them with a few grey circles and crescents on each hanging cloth, to create a 3D appearance. I noticed the simple background made it easy to focus not on the set, or the artists’ appearances, but to appreciate the music itself.

For the majority of the concert, the lights were dim and blue, casting a cold shadow over Luppen, who showcased his wide vocal range throughout the show, often singing in his signature high falsetto for songs like “Ride or Die.”

The lights became white and fully fluorescent only for the performance of “Way it Goes,” which the band played before the finishing encore. The audience sang along to every word of the song, which mentions the state of Wisconsin and its infamous pine trees in the song’s opening lines. Lupen smiled the whole time, grabbing audiences’ phones and taking selfies.

Small interactions like this prove Hippo Campus, while not sounding lively, seems to genuinely love performing.

I thought the band did a good job of keeping control of the mood of the show, balancing the audience’s energy levels. The slow song “Scorpio” was played, which Allen describing as an anthem to get past dark times, balanced directly afterward by a more upbeat tempo in “Baseball,” in which the crowd danced along.

Halfway through the show, a crew member walked onstage and took a Polaroid of the audience, a tradition that Hippo Campus continues at every show. This prompted guitarist Nathan Stocker to take a photo with the audience on his cell phone.

At the end of the concert, bassist Zach Sutton made sure to give a shoutout to the band’s crew and the staff working at the Riverside theater, which I think often goes unnoticed by many artists. 

Concluding the concert with “Buttercup,” the audience sang along and danced to every word.

Though Hippo Campus did not often talk to the crowd, the audience was captivated throughout the 90- minute set, in which the band seemed cheerful to be enjoy their own music alongside a devoted group of fans.

Hear more about my review of the show on MURadio.

This story was written by Angelina Galullo. She can be reached at [email protected]