Saturday, April 4, 2015

An Electric Performance By Hippo Campus

Hippo Campus Live at the Varsity Theater
Sometimes all it takes is a few hours of really loud live music to make you feel like the world is back in balance and all is good. Last night's show at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis had that effect. Opting out of a passionate Good Friday service at my church, I took my daughter and her friend to see some of their former classmates from the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists give a most passionate and energized live performance. Hippo Campus is sheer energy.

The boys in the band Hippo Campus graduated a few years ahead of my daughter and basically the whole school has been following their rise from local St. Paul band to a nationally recognized band that recently played the South By Southwest festival in Austin TX, resulting in an invitation to play live on the Conan O'Brien Show last week.

Hippo Campus has been on our "must see" list for over a year, and we finally saw the band last night.

What is going to see a concert without grabbing food first? While dining at the Loring Pasta Bar a few doors down from the Varsity Theater, who walks in for a pre-concert nosh but the band. Hippo Campus saunters in, as only 19-year-old rock stars can do, and climb upstairs to a private dining area conveniently open to all diners below. This did give the girls a nice view of the band upstairs. Score some cool chic Mom points for the restaurant choice!

View from my perch
After visiting the Gothic-inspired, eclectic ladies room, we headed over to the Varsity. The girls stayed downstairs and tried to work their way through the crowd to get closer to the stage. Being understandably ditched by the girls, I found the upstairs bar, got a glass of wine, and found a terrific perch on a catwalk right above the stage. Being small does have its advantages, and I was able to wedge into a space with a view looking right down onto the stage.

Technically I was not attending alone, but I admit I have never watched a live concert by myself so this was a first. But it did not really matter. For me, rock concerts take on a religious experience. I can easily attend my church by myself and feel completely surrounded by the community and friends, never actually feeling alone. Concerts have the same effect. All of us were gathered for the same reason—live music by performed by a favorite band. I felt completely surrounded by this community of concert goers and Hippo Campus fans.

The first band, The Mowgli's, were the headliners. Other than a couple of their songs that the girls played on the drive to the concert, I had never heard of them. That did not matter...they were excellent! There is just something about loud live music that cleanses the soul. The bass resonating in your heart and your whole being feeling completely in sync with the music. Again that whole religious experience encapsulated in a concert.

An appropriate brick at the Varsity Theater
Everyone in the crowd was clearly there to hear the local boys. I even had a nice chat with the lead singer's neighbor right before the set. Hippo Campus was on fire and the crowd was a roaring, energized mass of kids of all ages. These boys have come a long way since I heard a couple of them playing in a guitar ensemble at Anna's high school two years ago. Their sound is full and mature, and they completely captivated their audience. Hippo Campus played a fabulous set with songs off their current EP as well as a new one thrown in; I'll be looking to catch them live again.

As for the girls, I think their ears have finally stopped ringing, and they now share that passion for live (and loud) music and for Hippo Campus.

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