Hippo Campus – L’Astral – Montreal (30th April 2019)

While on tour for their latest album ‘Bambi,’ Minnesota native’s Hippo Campus returned to Montreal, Quebec for an evening of live music at L’Astral.

Since the band’s conception in 2013, Hippo Campus have consistently refined their sound – most notably between their first to EPs to 2017’s ‘Landmark.’ Their latest project, ‘Bambi,’ further recognizes not only the ambition behind the band, pushing the production quality to new heights, but how willing they are to experiment with their sound. It would be interesting to see just how the quality of their music from a production standpoint would translate to a live performance.

But before Hippo Campus can take the stage, they are accompanied by New York based artist Samia. There wasn’t much expectation for Samia as many if not all were in attendance to see Hippo Campus. That said, having no expectations played in Samia’s favor as she took the stage with a provocative performance that surprised many. Samia, with her sultry voice and intimate lyrics, looked like an energizer-bunny as she wiped across the stage singing, dancing and engaging with her band-mates, even in an erotic manner. But it was Samia’s vocal range that stole the show, having more than several instances that felt emotionally captivating, and proving to be a great opener for the night’s festivities.

After a brief period between acts, Hippo Campus took the stage to a warm applause. Opening with the titled track of their album ‘Bambi,’ followed by ‘Golden’ and ‘Way it Goes,’ the five-piece ensemble proved just how well they can command the stage. Led by Jake Luppen on vocals, it was captivating to hear how refined his range was; hitting notes that resonated well with the crowd. However, Luppen was not the only member to be given a moment to shine, as guitarist Nathan Stocker and Whistler Allen on drums both showcased their vocals too. It was a brilliant display of how talented the group is, leaving no doubt on how the quality of their music would transition to a live stage.

Nevertheless, as Hippo Campus played through their set, featuring a wide array of songs from their previous EPs and albums outside of ‘Bambi,’ there was something left to be desired from their overall performance. This quickly changed once the band performed ‘Monsoon,’ an emotionally charged song that has overtime become one of the band’s strongest both lyrically and compositionally. Afterwards, Hippo Campus upped the pacing and energy with songs like ‘Violet,’ ‘Suicide,’ and ‘South,’ which resulted in a myriad of fans dancing and singing along. Their set felt like an orchestra in this regard, where the first half was gradually building to a climax that paid off in the end.

Hippo Campus delivered a performance that was engaging from start to finish, but truly picked up in the second half that overall made for an excellent night of music.