Hippo Campus in Harrisburg – October 20, 2022
Coming off the release of their third album earlier this year, Hippo Campus made a stop at XL Live in Harrisburg, PA, with support from Japanese pop band CHAI.
CHAI, an all-female Japanese pop band hailing from Nagoya, opened the show donning stylish dresses and masks, and immediately captivated the audience’s attention with their outfits and synchronized dancing. They played a variety of songs from their three albums, transitioning from all the members singing with choreographed dance moves to playing instruments along with the songs. While many of their lyrics were in Japanese, the language barrier was no match for the energy and excitement they brought on stage. The crowd danced along to each song and made it very clear they were enjoying their performance, giving a big cheer at the end of every song.
Coming off the release of the third studio album last February – adeptly named LP3 – Hippo Campus took the stage dramatically to dimmed lights and a fog machine, before the opening notes to “2 Young 2 Die” started the show. They continued the stretch of newer songs, playing a few off their newest album, or their EP released in summer 2021, Good Dog Bad Dream, before mixing in some older songs. A crowd favorite was “Bambi,” the title track from their 2018 album that was well-received by the crowd, who seemed to be itching for some older crowd favorites. They played another old favorite, “Vacation,” the first time they played that song for their fall tour. The crowd read the energy of the band very well, matching their upbeat songs with dancing and their slower, more emotional songs with calmer energy.
One of the biggest cheers of the night came when the opening notes to “South,” one of the first songs released by the band started up. The crowd sang the chorus back at the band on stage, with lead singer Jake Luppen taking in the moment and allowing the crowd to take over the lyrics. The band finished up with two songs off their newest album, “Understand” and “Boys” before leaving the stage momentarily. Many in the crowd knew what was coming next, as they chanted for the band to come back onstage and play “Buttercup.” The band obliged, bringing intense energy to the breakdown towards the end of the song and a loud yell from lead guitarist Nathan Stocker as the final notes of the song died out.
As any band gets bigger and puts out more music, it becomes harder to put together a cohesive setlist mixing in songs old and new. The only downside of hearing the new songs from Hippo Campus is that many longtime staples of the setlist, such as “Violet,” “Suicide Saturday,” “No Poms,” and many others did not make the cut. Nonetheless, the band put on an amazing show that the crowd certainly enjoyed. The band wrapped up their fall tour on October 30 in Alabama, but they should be appearing on at least a few festival lineups next Spring and Summer. The band also recently announced a very special show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado on May 2 that is sure to be an amazing experience.