The indie rock band Hippo Campus shook the Sylvee in Madison Feb. 18 to kick off the start of their new tour, following the release of their “LP3″ album.
The band, originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, gave Madison music lovers the first live listen to the songs off of their new album. “LP3” which was released earlier this month, features 10 songs, all of which were performed at the Sylvee.
Fans, who had to deal with long lines in the below freezing temperatures to get into the venue, were pleasantly rewarded with a thrilling performance from opener Jelani Aryeh. The sold-out show was undoubtedly a night to remember and Aryeh was no exception. The “Stella Brown” singer announced it was his first time on tour, but he made it look easy. Aryeh released his newest album in July of 2021 titled “Overexposed.” The crowd sang along to most of his songs proving the alternative artist has already made a name for himself.
When Hippo Campus finally took the stage, the crowd — college students and millennials alike — went absolutely wild. Looking down from the balcony at the Sylvee gave a perfect view of the general admissions section that was packed and full of energy. Hundreds of waving hands, nodding heads and smiling faces made a ripple effect across the large crowd of screaming concert goers, nothing less than excited to be there.
Hippo Campus started with two songs off of their new album, “2 Young 2 Die” and “Ashtray.” The performance was energetic and the band sounded strong, especially considering lead singer Jake Luppen said he was nervous to perform. Throughout the concert I couldn’t help but think the music almost sounded better and more emotionally resonant in person than it did on recordings.
The stage set up and lighting display was particularly captivating. With multicolored lights that changed from song to song and got more intense with the more upbeat songs, the lighting display played a crucial role in setting up the tone of each song. Luppen also went the extra mile by changing guitars almost every song to encapsulate each unique performance.
Hippo Campus’s rendition of “South” off of an early 2015 EP particularly stood out amongst the setlist as one of the most energetic songs performed. Although its release was almost seven years ago, it still fits into the type of indie/alternative music that is popular now and is undoubtedly still enjoyed by Hippo Campus fans today.
“[My concert experience was] super fun,” UW-Madison student and indie music enthusiast Aaron Dong said. “The music was definitely really good.”
“I low-key think that people wanted to hear more ‘Landmark’ and ‘Bambi’ songs but obviously they had to promote their new album,” Dong said. “Either way though, all of my friends and I had a lot of fun.”
It was evident the crowd knew more of the bands classic songs off of their earlier albums which was expected as their new album was released just weeks prior to the show. Staple songs like “Baseball” and “The Way it Goes” were included toward the end of the setlist. Others such as “Bambi” and “Buttercup” weren’t performed until the show’s encore.
Nonetheless, the chemistry Hippo Campus had on stage was undeniable and their effortless coolness and upbeat vibe radiated into the crowd. I think it’s safe to say the show in Madison set the tone for the rest of the band’s tour this year as they headed down to Chicago for a performance at the Riviera Theatre the day following.