Live Review: Hippo Campus @ 9:30 Club — 3/4/22

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Hippo Campus’ frontman Jake Luppen takes the stage with fellow band members at 9:30 Club on March 4, 2022. (Photos by Katie Child)

Hippo Campus has always been a band I’ve heard praise for, though I hadn’t looked very far into their sound until I heard of their plans to visit the District for their recent two sold-out shows at the famed 9:30 Club. Upon exploring their discography, to say I was absorbed would be an understatement. 

The five-piece band has been together since their middle school days and has been creating music as a group since then. With their first singles having been released in 2015, they’ve only continued to grow into their truest, most authentic sound, which they captured best in their latest studio album, LP3, released this past February. 

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Also in February, the band took off on their sixth headlining tour from Wisconsin and have stopped in cities such as Chicago, Nashville, and Brooklyn before making their way here to DC for their two shows on March 4 and 5. From here they’re headed up to Canada, after which they’ll come back down to visit some cities closer to the West Coast. 

Walking up to the club on March 4, fans’ devotion to the band was crystal clear. The line of attendees wrapped past a near-by movie theater, at least two bars, turned a corner, and stretched over a block north (as far as I could see), despite the roughly 40-degree F weather. As with all the concerts I’ve been to at the 9:30 Club, the amazing security team was swift with checking IDs, vaccine cards, and bags, to allow everyone to get into the club before Hippo Campus took the stage. 

The band’s stage was super unique. They had layers of fabric with corresponding designs lining their set, with some layers sheerer than others, to create an interesting 3D look that I hadn’t seen done before. 

Watch Hippo Campus’ ”Bad Dream Baby” official music video on YouTube:

Every single member of the band was an absolute buzz to enjoy the music with. The best concerts are without fail thrown by artists who truly love what they do, as well as the people they do it with, and this was undoubtedly the case for Hippo Campus’s gig. Some concerts feel as though they’re one way, as if the artist is entirely separate from the audience. One of my favorite parts of Friday’s show was the fact that the musicians made it feel like they were simply there to enjoy the music alongside their fans. To sing with them, rather than at them. The club felt like one big group of friends. 

The band’s setlist featured songs from each era of their progression. While making sure to tie in the hit songs that boosted their early rise to fame, they also put plenty of emphasis on their fresher music, which they feel more accurately shows their growth, and describes the band as a whole.

Setlist:

  1. 2 Young 2 Die
  2. Ashtray
  3. Bad Dream Baby
  4. Blew Its
  5. Semi Pro
  6. Bang Bang
  7. Sex Tape
  8. Scorpio
  9. Listerine
  10. Mojo Jojo
  11. Ride or Die
  12. Way It Goes
  13. Vacation
  14. Simple Season
  15. No Poms
  16. South
  17. Boys
  18. Understand
  19. Bambi
  20. Buttercup

Each person on stage interacted with audience members as though they knew them personally, which made the experience so incredibly worthwhile. A specifically bubbly band member, Nathan Stocker, guitarist and vocalist, drew the energy out of audience members with ease, creating a stunning cycle of liveliness. Wonderfully occupying the stage and exceeding fans’ expectations, Hippo Campus rocked the nation’s capital, and next time they visit, you won’t want to miss it. 

Stream Hippo Campus’ latest album, LP3, on Spotify:

Below are additional photos of Hippo Campus performing at 9:30 Club on March 4, 2022. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Katie Child.

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