Hippo Campus, a Minnesotan band, is like if your local high school indie-rock band was actually good. With their adolescent look and young sound, it is easy to spot the similarities between them and a group of minors obsessed with the idea of being the next Mac DeMarco. However, it is their intricate instrumentation and eccentric, but controlled vocals that separate them from the pack.
Formed at the St. Paul Conservatory For Performing Artists, the band consists of Jake Luppen [vocals/guitar], Nathan Stocker [guitar/vocals], Zach Sutton [bass], and Whistler Allen [drums/vocals]. As a kind of childhood relic, the band (and fans) calls each other by nicknames: Turntan [Luppen], Stitches [Stocker], Espo [Sutton], and Beans [Allen].
Hippo Campus has previously released two EPs “Bashful Creatures” and “South.” Despite their Minnesotan roots, Hippo Campus’ tunes invoke memories of warm summer car drives and beach days.
“Landmark” continues Hippo Campus’ classic summer sound with added electronic and indie pop vibes. Even though it’s debut album, it shows the maturity that the band has acquired through multiple tours and EPs.
They have recently embarked on a twenty something stop tour across the US in support of “Landmark.” During their show on March 3rd, I made the trek to downtown Los Angeles and saw them at the sold-out Teragram Ballroom.
The band performed a set worthy of its sold-out-ness. Hippo Campus expertly translated their studio album to a live setting (i.e. a drawling looped guitar in the intro to Monsoon that perfectly announced its arrival).
Luppen’s classic alt-rock vocalization on the studio version of “Landmark” also impressively held up in a live context. While some indie acts prioritize style over execution, Hippo Campus provides both.
Despite their debut album being released a mere week before the show, fans already had the new tracks memorized. Without missing a beat, attendees sung along to the new Way It Goes just as passionately as they did for fan-favorite Suicide Saturday.
The atmosphere of the show felt like a house show but with better music. Instead of being obnoxious vocals with reverb, Hippo Campus’ cheerful tunes were an excellent soundtrack for dancing teenagers on a Friday night.
For practically the price of a movie ticket ($16ish), seeing Hippo Campus is a fun way to spend a weekend night.