I saw Hippo Campus for the first time in 2016 as an opening band and every time since, the band has noticeably improved. The 4-piece has since released two albums, added a trumpet player, and has grown musically, adding intricacies and pushing the boundaries of their sound, but most strikingly, the band now has the confidence and stage presence of an arena rock band.
On October 27th, Hippo Campus played the House of Blues while touring in support of their recently released sophomore album, Bambi. The album reflects the same growth that their live shows do. They opened their set with the album’s title track, a synth-driven meditation on lead singer Jake Lupen’s mental health. Despite the somber lyrics, the crowd danced along to the bubbly melody.
On tracks like “Western Kids” and “Doubt,” Lupen showed off his vocal prowess, playing with falsetto and adding runs. Guitarist Nathan Stocker and bassist/keyboardist Zach Sutton commanded the stage as much as Lupen.
When the dreamy sound of “Bubbles” transformed into a jarring, distorted guitar- and drum-heavy bridge, the crowd jumped and shouted along with the band before the song quieted again, returning to the atmospheric mood of the beginning.
The band played through fan favorites like “Simple Season,” “Suicide Saturday,” and “South,” before Stocker took over lead vocals on the unreleased track “No Pomegranates.” The grittier track had everyone in the crowd, both fans who had heard the song when they began playing it on their last tour and those who had never heard it before, jumping along.
This energy continued through the last song, “Buttercup.” The crowd sang along to the triumphant final verse of the song so loudly, they nearly drowned out Hippo Campus.
The band returned for their encore, asking the crowd what song they wanted to hear. Fans resoundingly answered “Violet.” The band played through, extending the outro into a passionate finale that left fans with ringing ears and huge smiles.