Hippo Campus has been an important part of my life ever since I randomly stumbled across one of their videos on Tumblr in June of 2015. Their music was unlike anything I had ever heard before. I immediately purchased the Bashful Creatures EP, playing it on loop all summer long. I soon made friends in places near and far that were also fans. I’ve always wanted to see Hippo Campus live, and I finally had the chance to during the 2017 fall tour. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, and it turned out to be a weekend that I’ll never forget.
On November 3rd, Hippo Campus played at the Mohawk in Austin, Texas. I woke up early Friday morning and headed to the venue with my friend Abby, to meet up with our friend Itzel. Abby and Itzel are two people I met because of Hippo Campus. It’s incredible how our shared love for a band brought us together. There was already a long line of fans outside the doors, but luckily we had VIP. The VIP tickets included an acoustic performance, Q&A, and early entrance. Just after 7 p.m., the staff allowed VIP to enter the venue, and about 20 of us sat in front of the stage. Hippo Campus then came downstairs, greeted us, and set up their instruments. They played three songs which included “Sula,” “Boyish,” and “Western Kids.” We all happily sang along to some of our favorite songs. During the Q&A, the band answered funny questions like what their favorite cereal was, and also a few serious ones, like what advice they had for aspiring musicians. After the Q&A wrapped up, we each took individual pictures with the band, and Abby, Itzel, and I landed a spot at the barricade.
Fellow Minnesota band Remo Drive came on stage, opening up the show with “Art School,” and the crowd went crazy. This was their first time playing in Austin, and we wanted to make it a memorable show. Their set was filled with fan favorites such “I’m My Own Doctor,” “Crash Test Rating,” and “Strawberita.” During the set, Remo cracked jokes and danced around the stage. When they covered “When You Were Young,” the iconic song by The Killers, everyone in the crowd sang at the top of their lungs. They closed with their hit “Yer Killin’ Me,” to which we all headbanged and channeled our inner teenage angst. With the set sadly over, we mentally and physically prepared ourselves for Hippo Campus. We anxiously watched the roadies switch out the equipment and tune the instruments.
One by one, Hippo Campus walked onto the stage, and the “Sun Veins” intro began transitioning into “Way It Goes.” They played a mixture of songs from Bashful Creatures and South, as well as from their debut album Landmark. During the entire set, the members of Remo Drive were jamming out in the upstairs balcony, encouraging the crowd to throw up their rock hands. Hippo Campus’s performance was fun and energetic, and the band interacted with each other and the crowd. This changed during “Monsoon,” a cathartic and emotional song which everyone in the venue respected with silence. We all shared an emotional moment as we listened to the beautiful guitars and vocals, and a few tears were shed. Things went back to normal when the set transitioned into “Simple Season,” which was followed by their newest singles from the Warm Glow EP. Their last song was “Buttercup,” which is my personal favorite. The crowd jumped along and shouted the lyrics. When it was over, we chanted “encore!” repeatedly, so they came back out and played “Violet.” At the end Jake attempted to crowd surf, but failed miserably. Hippo Campus then said their goodbyes as we cheered and applauded.
As I reflect on this show more than a month later, my heart is full. I saw my favorite band with my close friends, and we laughed, cried, and bonded. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and no other show will compare. I want to personally thank Hippo Campus for inspiring me everyday. Their music has become the soundtrack to my life, and I somehow find a piece of myself in every song. I want to also thank them for giving me a unique friend group composed of people all over the world, who are intelligent, beautiful, and creative in their own ways. Although distance may separate some of us, we are always connected by their music. So from all of us, thank you.
By: Gabriela Ruiz / @byegabriela