Sometime in the last few years, Hippo Campus became the kind of Tumblr mood board indie darlings that sell out venues and inspire tattoos. Perhaps it’s because they nailed the feel-good summer rock on their debut (2017’s Landmark) or because they’re growing up right alongside their fans, with earnest lyrics about the trials and tribulations of young adulthood. Add in a trumpet and some boyish good looks and you can almost picture the band, spreading serotonin wherever they go.
The Twin Cities five-piece is on the road promoting LP3, the most experimental of their catalog to date, and stopped by Phoenix’s Van Buren to bring their new sounds to life—and put a spin on some old favorites.
Opening with “2 Young 2 Die” and “Ashtray,” the group set the tone that they’re in a new era, but they haven’t forgotten their roots. In fact, the setlist included “South” and a first-time-on-this-tour appearance of “Monsoon.” Is it because Hippo Campus loves Arizona and knows the season is almost here? They said many times how excited they were to be back in Phoenix and how much they appreciated the crowd.
Can we also address the autotune? LP3 has its fair share of distorted sounds, and what better way to translate that than auto-tuning on the fly? Fans let out delighted shrieks the first time Jake Luppen’s voice warped, and he was having so much fun with the gadget that he changed his voice even on older tracks. It’s not every day you can hear a different version of “Way It Goes,” “Baseball,” or encore closer “Buttercup.”
Watching the band on stage, it’s clear they’re enjoying this new phase of their career where they get to make the art they want to make and see what happens. Thus far? It couldn’t be better.
Check out all the photos from the show!
Story and photos by Taylor Knauf