Hippo Campus: Live at the Novo (“Bambi” Tour Review)


Michael Khuraibet

Hippo Campus frontman Jake Luppen hypes up the crowd during the performance of their song “Way It Goes.” The song, from the band’s first full-length album, “Landmark,” has become one of their most recognizable songs and a fan favorite.

Michael Khuraibet, Digital Editor-in-Chief

Since the release of their first EP in 2014, indie rock band Hippo Campus has slowly refined their craft. Their latest album, Bambi (2018), is the culmination of that effort. The record adds new musical flavors to their already unique style. The band energized a packed house during a tour stop at The Novo in Downtown Los Angeles Friday night.

Hippo Campus opened the show strongly with the title track from their album. Unlike other songs in the band’s collection, “Bambi” is distinctly more electronic. Its strong opening riff is a consistent theme throughout the piece, as the lyrics bring a very introspective vibe. Frontman Jake Luppen’s flexible vocal range makes the lyrics feel very personal.

Fans were jumping and cheering as the band continued with audience favorites “Way It Goes” and “Baseball.” Trumpet player DeCarlo Jackson, who first appeared on the band’s album Landmark (2017), had the spotlight on him for his incredibly tight solo.

The atmosphere began to mellow with back-to-back ballads “Warm Glow” and “Monsoon.” In an interview with Alive, guitarist Nathan Stocker described his state of mind when he wrote the lyrics to “Monsoon.”

“I wrote [it] one day when we were in the studio, and it wasn’t until later that night when I realized it was about my sister’s death,” Stocker told the magazine. “There are a lot of complexities, because we’re all so different and we all process things differently.”

The band also debuted new songs that have not appeared on a Hippo Campus album. Notably, one features drummer Whistler Allen taking lead vocals for the first time. Bassist Zach Sutton also switched to keyboard for a few songs.

“I want to run from everything, but my legs won’t work…”

Bambi (2018)

Hippo Campus closed their set with songs from their first two EP releases, “Suicide Saturday” from Bashful Creatures (2014), and “Violet” from South (2015). To the audience, the older songs felt like classics, prompting a chant of “One more song!” as the band left the stage.

The group was happy to oblige with a final performance of “Buttercup,” Landmark’s closing song. The song’s message of empowerment resonated with the audience as band members took a final gracious bow.

The Bambi tour will continue in the United States until mid-February. Then, Hippo Campus will travel to Europe and Asia, before returning for the closing leg. Tickets for select shows are still available via the band’s website.

The hippocampus is in the part of the brain responsible for controlling emotion and memory. Spending a night listening to Hippo Campus triggers a wide spectrum emotions. Their music features peak moments of euphoria and low valleys of anxiety. Bambi is a complex journey, but leaves the audience with a feeling of peace in the midst of uncertainty.