Hippo Campus releases a rush of dopamine at the 9:30 Club

The five-piece teamed up with The Districts to play a sold-out show on Oct. 24.

Hippo Campus releases a rush of dopamine at the 9:30 Club

Hippo Campus performs at the 9:30 Club on Oct. 24.

Starry, white light mingled with crooning, crisp vocals to create an ethereal mood in the dimly lit 9:30 Club. The atmospheric indie-pop outfit Hippo Campus entranced a sold-out crowd on Oct. 24. Donning a flowy, wine-colored blouse straight out of a Duran Duran music video, lead singer Jake Tuppen overwhelmed the crowd with his crisp, unique vocals that outshined every other instrument onstage.

Playing to an odd mix of flannel-wearing 30-somethings, sullen-looking indie students and elementary-aged kids, both Hippo Campus and opener The Districts brought the entire crowd to dance on a Wednesday night like it was a Friday night. Had they opened for nearly any other band, The Districts would have stolen the show. The band’s lead singer Rob Grote also overshadowed all other elements of his set with an Irish-tinged voice that blended the sounds of U2 and We Were Promised Jetpacks.

With that being said, Hippo Campus’s unique pops of guitar and trumpet gracing each song made their show worthy of more than the mere $25 viewers paid for entry. Their most notable performances, like the punky “Suicide Saturday,” the catchy “South” and the silky “Monsoon,” uprooted audience members from their monotonous lives, transporting them to a whimsical yet dream-like world far away from the dreary, political streets of Washington, D.C.

Although classics like “Way It Goes” and “Simple Season” brought the entire crowd to yell out every lyric, new takes off of 2018’s “Bambi” like “Bubbles” and “Bambi” ushered in an experimental electronic sampling, which complemented the band’s typical crisp, poppy guitar sounds to go beyond the bounds of indie pop as a genre.

Perhaps one of the best performances of the night was “No Pomegranates,” an unreleased track with guitarist Nathan Stocker on vocals. Tuppen mysteriously noted on Twitter that the song “will have its day” after a fan asked why “No Pomegranates” wasn’t on their latest release, “Bambi.”

At one point, Luppen grabbed the crowd’s attention, switching the script of the classic concert question “Where are all the ladies in the house?” by speaking out in favor of the fair and equal treatment of women and denouncing the current president. Explaining that women are “fine on their own,” Luppen followed his comment up with a goosebumps-inducing performance of “Buttercup,” repeating over and over again, “she’ll be fine on her own.”

Hippo Campus delivered a truly unforgettable performance that was untainted by rehearsed dancing, excessive talking or an elaborate set. Their latest tour is not one to miss.

“Bambi” is available on Apple Music and Spotify.


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