Hippo Campus brought glossy sounds and intimate vibes to the Sunshine Theatre on Monday night as part of their “Bambi” Tour. Titled after their second official album, the band’s first stop was here in Albuquerque. “Bambi” marks the band’s fifth headlining tour.
The indie rock band Now, Now set the tone for lively and upbeat listening. The lead singer, "Cacie" Dalager even got personal, telling the crowd to dedicate “Saved” to anyone they wanted to say “f*** you” too. With a trance inducing and smooth sound, fans were thrilled to sing along.
After Now, Now left the stage, the crowd began to giddily claim their spots for Hippo Campus. While some fans were rushing to the front by eagerly pushing others out of the way, others were climbing onto railings, setting their line of sights up for the perfect view. One fan even chose a spot in the back to juggle.
Happily standing toward the back of the crowd was University of New Mexico senior and psychology major, Cade Arnink. “I’ve been following the band since 2016,” Arnink said. “Also, their debut album, “Landmark,” came out on my birthday. They’re one of my favorite bands because they’re really pushing rock in the right direction. They have their own sound and they’re just a lot of fun.”
When the standard white lights of the Sunshine Theatre finally dimmed, the humm of the crowd’s conversations evolved into cheers, and Hippo Campus stepped out. Illuminated by colorful spotlights, band members stood under flashes of blue, pink and purple.
Though there was a frigid breeze outside, spirits in the room warmed up as lead singer Jake Luppen began to sing “Bambi.” Dressed in round rimmed glasses, hats, beanies, classic sneakers and various graphic tees, the all-male band brought forth an androgynous aesthetic.
Easily hitting the range from alto notes to mezzo soprano notes, band members Nathan Stocker (guitar/vocals), Zach Sutton (bass), DeCarlo Jackson (trumpet) and Whistler Isaiah Allen (drums/vocals), delivered canorous harmonies in pair with a bubbly feeling. Many fans mirrored the band’s energy, zealously singing along to hits such as “Way It Goes” and “Suicide Saturday.”
Towards the end of the night, Albuquerque was treated with “Chapstick,” a new song by Hippo Campus. As the lights focused on the drummer, Allen, crowd members were shocked to find out that he was the lead vocalist of the song. Holding a quick beat, “Chapstick” also features a Jackson on trumpet.
“I was pretty impressed with Chapstick... I think it was a good move for them to debut the song live before releasing an album or EP with the studio recording, I feel like that definitely made the show a lot more special,” said Pablo Viramontes, a UNM sophomore majoring in marketing and journalism. “Also, the drummer singing was really nice to mix it up. Gives the song a different tone.”
In 2017, Hippo Campus was named one of National Public Radio Music's favorite new artists. Today, the band continues to bring forth new and innovative sounds while evenly balancing the classic indie-alternative feel.
Luisa Pennington is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @_lpennington_.