Hippo Campus @ Union Transfer


It may only be March, but summertime vibes were flowing at Union Transfer on Tuesday night. Fresh off their set at Austin’s South by Southwest festival, Hippo Campus rocked yet another sold-out show in support of their newly released LP Landmark. The Minnesota natives, known for their energetic stage presence and one of the best up-and-coming live indie bands, lived up to their reputation.

Robby Hunter, lead singer of Magic City Hippies, sings the chorus for “BRNT” alongside bassist John Coghlin at Union Transfer on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. (Photo: Siena Sohn)

Accompanying Hippo Campus on their tour is the high energy, alternative-funk group, Magic City Hippies.  Blending funk with reggae, alternative and rap genres, this Miami-based group quickly captured attention of concertgoers. Just 20 shows into their first tour, the 45-minute opening set was quite impressive, working the stage and audience like seasoned vets. Magic City Hippies got the good vibes going for the rest of the night and gained some new fans along the way.

An eager audience erupted when Hippo Campus finally took the stage. The crowd quickly went quiet as the band immediately showcased their newest material by playing the opener off the new LP, “Sun Veins.” Acting as almost an interlude for the album, the soft intense rhythms flowed seamlessly into their big hit off the LP, “Way it Goes.” The 1200-person venue broke out into an all-out sing-along with an energy that continued to flow throughout the rest of the set.

Hippo Campus front-man Jake Luppen gets up close and personal with Union Transfer’s jam-packed audience. (Photo: Siena Sohn)

The indie-rock quartet continued to play through their LP, by performing “Vines,” which truly showed off lead singer Jake Luppen’s endless vocal range. The band’s 16 song set was full of tracks from their latest album release, but it was their old tracks that put the band’s passion for music on display.

About halfway through their set, the band hit their stride by playing fan favorite “Suicide Saturday.” The audience belted every word at the top of their lungs ringing throughout the concert hall. Hippo Campus slowed things down and made an intimate show even more intimate by playing “Monsoon.” The powerful ballad sent chills down my spine for every run Luppen went on; with every note he held out, you could feel the emotional pain behind each lyric about the death of a family member. This kind of raw emotional is often lost in live performances today, but the boys in Hippo Campus showed that having a passion for music is all that matters. This same kind of passion that it was not until halfway through the set that Luppen remembered to introduce the band.

Hippo Campus guitarist Nathan Stocker takes over vocals for “Boyish.” (Photo: Siena Sohn)

However, the tempo was not slow for long, in a jam session packed “Bashful Creatures,” the band was firing on all cylinders with each band member having their own moment to show off their skills. And of course, no Philly show is complete without a mosh pit; the mosh pit grew to about a third of the size of the venue during “South.” Now this was not your typical punk mosh pit, every face in it was bursting with joy and the band’s powerful good vibes shined through.

Hippo Campus closed the first set with a few more songs of their new LP, ending the show with a long interlude fading into “Buttercup.” The energy of the show was at its highest of the night at this point, as not one person in the crowd was not dancing. Luppen ran from side to side of the stage working all parts of the stage, even getting the audience involved by letting some lucky fans strum the guitar as the show came to a close. The band exited the stage to thunderous cheers and applause.

Every last person at Union Transfer was begging for one more song and much to the delight of the crowd, the indie-rockers gave the audience all they could handle with “Violet.” Voiced by the powerful voice of the drummer Whistle Allen, “Violet” was my favorite of the night. I was so into the song that it was not until halfway through the song that I realized Allen was the one in fact singing it. The raw intensity behind each guitar riff in between each verse combined with Allen’s powerful vocals, made it the perfect way to end an energetic set.

The band left the stage leaving everyone in the audience smiling. It is safe to say that the future of indie-rock is in great hands and I personally cannot wait to see what the future holds for them.



  1. Sun Veins
  2. Way It Goes
  3. Vines
  4. Souls
  5. Suicide Saturday
  6. Poems
  7. Monsoon
  8. Bashful Creatures
  9. Simple Season
  10. Little Grace
  11. South
  12. Western Kids
  13. Boyish
  14. Interlude
  15. Buttercup


  1. Violet