Hippo Campus, formed in 2013, has performed the likes of South by Southwest, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo. But on Tuesday night, they seemed happy to grace the stage of The Fillmore in front of an eager audience of about 1,000.
L.A.-based Sure Sure opened the night by permeating the San Francisco venue with catchy left-field pop melodies. The Sure Sure vibe hearkens back to ‘80s teen classic movies, if those films were 90 minutes of 16-year-old Molly Ringwald sobbing on the bathroom floor rather than an hour and a half of her agonizing over who to take to prom. That is to say, their setlist was full of melancholy bops — it sounds oxymoronic but trust me, it’ll make a surprising amount of sense if you take a listen to their discography.
After an energetic set that established the tone of the rest of the night, the band ended with “Hands Up Head Down,” instructing the audience to do exactly as the song’s title suggests. This exercise resulted in what appeared to be a crowd of drunken zombies — albeit zombies that seemed mostly pleased to be flopping their arms over their heads.
With the energy in the room taken all the way up to 11, the boys of Minnesota-based indie rock band Hippo Campus finally scampered onto the stage to the (shockingly high-pitched) screams of a prepubescent audience. Hardly a introductory word ensued before the band dove straight into “Poems,” an introspective song with ambient breaks seemingly crafted precisely for collective, mindless swaying. The more uptempo tracks like “Suicide Saturday” and “Simple Season” that followed got the crowd jumping and shrieking at every high note or hip sway from guitarist/vocalist Jake Luppen.
An excited murmur reverberated throughout the crowd as Luppen noted that the next song “Tuesday” would be particularly appropriate considering it was, in fact, a Tuesday. At the utterance of the lyrics “Sometimes I call it Tuesday / Sometimes I call it the best day of my life,” the audience seemed to collectively react with even heightened enthusiasm — I guess it’s the little coincidences in life that really get some of us going.
Later in the night, after the last note of “Joy” (a new song) rang out and the cheers had died down, Luppen commented, “That’ll be in Starbucks everywhere someday” which is not an entirely implausible assessment. It’s not difficult to imagine Hippo Campus’s more mellow songs, sprinkled with delicate guitar riffs and permeated by precise harmonization, fitting right at home in your local cafe.
When Hippo Campus left the stage following the energetic end of fan-favorite “Buttercup,” shouts of “one more song” (and one very vocal concert-goer’s repeated announcement that “Guy Fieri’s birthday is tomorrow!”) lured the band back out for two final songs to close out the night: one new song and the tried-and-true crowd-pleaser “Violet.”
The hearty mixture of danceable hits and somber melodies reverberating throughout The Fillmore all evening definitely impressed, and I for one (also probably most of my fellow concert-goers) am ardently waiting to see what the band does next.
Written by Kayla Kettmann
Photos by Desiree Diaz