Hippo Campus intoxicates Wooly’s


Jill Itzen/Iowa State Daily

Parachute played at Wooly’s in Des Moines on April 12. The band is on their Getaway Tour, featuring Kris Allen. Parachute said that this was their second time performing at Wooly’s, and they said they were planning on returning during their next tour. 

Kyle Cravens

Indie rock band Hippo Campus made its way through Wooly’s Bar in Des Moines Thursday and was greeted by an audience of loyal fans.

The band’s debut album Landmark dropped just a month ago, and yet the youth of Des Moines in attendance sang their hearts out to every song the Saint Paul rockers played.

Founded in 2013 and rooted in powerful lyrics and expansive sounds, Hippo Campus is certainly doing the right in establishing a name for themselves in the indie rock scene.

Before they graced the stage however, it was Minneapolis natives Remo Drive who broke in the crowd. Because Hippo Campus and Remo Drive are both from the Twin Cities, a lot of the folks in attendance were fans of both bands, although this is the first time these two bands have played together on the Landmark Tour or even on the same stage.

“Playing with Hippo Campus was a blast,” said Remo Drive drummer Sam Mathys. “I actually used to play in a band with some of the members of Hippo Campus, so it was an awesome show, just great.”

The band certainly has their own sound amongst other acts in the Indie scene, leaning its efforts more towards punk in terms of song structure and lyrics.

“We draw inspiration from bands such as The Police, Weezer and Vampire Weekend,” said front man Erik Paulson. “I normally write the outlines for songs, and then I bring them to Sam, and then he will turn it down or we will jam it until it sounds good. Then, that only leaves Stephen (Paulson) to lay down the bass.”

The band met through a School of Rock program and through vigorous playing with bands in and around the Twin Cities. Their unique take on punk is possible thanks to the drumming of the immensely talented Sam Mathys, who’s varying tempos and energy on stage makes the act worth the money.

Headliner Hippo Campus followed with their own style of Indie music, which focused more on strong melodic riffs and expansive, thought-invoking blends.

Their setlist began the same way the album Landmark does, with “Sun Veins,” which serves as wistful intro to the album, establishing mood. That song was (and always is) followed by with the upbeat jam “Way It Goes”. This song had the crowd moving and excited and was certainly a sing-along moment for everyone.

As they performed ‘’Way It Goes,” the style and poise of the band came to fruition well. Each member of the band has a unique style and they are each extremely capable musicians. The band is made up of four kids who all met during their high school days while playing in local bands.

It’s Jake Luppen’s serenading vocals, Nathan Stockers sweeping guitar, Zach Suttons smooth bass, and Whistler Allens steady drumming you hear when Hippo Campus takes the stage. Seeing them all interact on stage assures that they really are four best friends, just trying to make their way and leave their make on music.

After a few more energized songs, the stage became dark and haunting guitar melodies began to pollute the air. Hippo Campus effortlessly created the mood with their mannerisms and lights, making their performance of “Monsoon” a highlight of the show.

It is an emotional trip to begin with, but seeing it in person puts faces to lyrics and really amplifies the connection one can make with the band.

Their lead single “Boyish” awaited the crowd near the end of the set, but it didn’t disappoint.

What did disappoint however, was the lack of banter between the band and the crowd. They killed it musically but they never paused and greeted their fans.

They just played right through their setlist, making the show seem less interactable, like the audience was just observing a practice the band scheduled. It’s a minor complaint but perhaps interacting with crowd between songs a bit more would make the hour-long set seem longer and seal the deal when it comes to the question of ‘was this worth the money’.

The encore came in the form of “Violet,” which is an older song that the band wrote, off of their South EP. This song was a fitting end to the show, and ended with guitarist Nathan Stocker jumping off the drums into backstage, which really riled the crowd.

There is no doubt that Hippo Campus is on the verge of becoming a leader in a new age of Indie rock if only they can keep capturing lighting in a bottle like they did with Landmark. With smart lyrics and smarter arrangements, it is no wonder fans sang and danced the night away.