On Oct. 18, indie rock band Hippo Campus brought their fun and lively music to Philadelphia in support of the release of their new album, “Bambi.” The night was a fun one, filled with colors and simple yet engaging musical arrangements that showed off each member’s strengths.
Union Transfer has always been one of my favorite venues. I’ve never been to a show there that disappointed me. Hippo Campus’ performance was no different. From the start of the night, the lighting and sound were fantastic, unmatched by other venues around the city. The night began with a wacky, but entertaining set from Philadelphia’s own Palm. The indie experimental rock group set a solid groundwork for what was to follow. Their set was a bit long for my taste, and slightly repetitive, but the instrumentation, consisting of drum machines and effects laden guitars, was somewhat shoegaze-y and quite enjoyable as well. Once Hippo Campus took the stage, however, you could tell who everybody was really there to see.
The crowd had a festival-like attitude, one that increased my enjoyment of the show tenfold. From the start of their first track “Bambi,” the crowd was dancing and bouncing along to every word. Each member had their moment to stand out, from pulling out multi-instrument performances, to solos, to harmonies, every single member had a chance to shine. However, lead vocalist Jake Luppen and trumpeter/percussionist DeCarlo Jackson shone brightest on stage. Luppen’s vocals and lyrics contributed to most of my enjoyment throughout the night. He effortlessly bounced between vocal ranges and timbres on almost every song, while also being able to perfectly fit the tone and energy of each track. Jackson, on the other hand, was more in a supporting role, but the depth he added to the performance was unmatched. From his beautiful trumpet work to his contributions on auxiliary percussion, he added layers to tracks that enhanced the entire performance wonderfully.
Some stand-out tracks from the evening included the older “Suicide Saturday,” the tender ballad “South,” which featured a standout vocal performance by Luppen and the group’s biggest hit to date, “Way It Goes,” which featured a fantastic back-and-forth singalong segment with the crowd. The varied instrumentation and heartfelt songwriting ensured that there was enjoyment to be found in nearly every track of the set. In conclusion, it was a great night, and I would highly recommend checking out Hippo Campus on their next trip through Philadelphia.