Live Review: Hippo Campus - O2 Shepherds Bush, London 21/02/2019


The five piece Minnesota band Hippo Campus lit up O2 Shepherds Bush on Thursday evening with their airy, euphoric sound.

The tour following their 2018 release of album ‘Bambi’ that although uses more synthesiser and programmed drums than their previous releases, still has the signature ‘Hippo Campus’ sound that propelled them to fame. 

The grade two listed building that houses the concert already has a nostalgic atmosphere of beauty, but when you fill it with a crowd of people who are all singing along to emotive music and moving in harmony this atmosphere multiplies. 

Before they played the crowd was full of people huddled in groups, murmuring about how excited they were to finally see Hippo Campus live. But it also felt like a community of friends catching up, with many people seeing a familiar face and realising some friend they hadn’t seen for a while was also there. This essence of harmony was carried through the gig. I went up to the first floor to get a better view and even just watching the crowd move together as a group was absolutely stunning. 

I think one of the reasons this gig felt so personal and connected is the balance Hippo Campus achieved with ‘Bambi’. The youthful exuberance that you’d expect from an indie rock band of 20 something’s has undertones of a more somber somewhat troubled meaning. This, contrasted with the lighting that at times looked like dappled sunlight finding its way through trees and the uplifting melodies of songs like ‘Bambi’ and ‘way it goes’, made for a magical atmosphere.

The lead singer Jake Luppen said, “It’s about sharing what you’re going through, so maybe someone else will feel less lonely”, and I think that’s exactly what the band achieved with their album and consequentially the gig. This admiration and connection the fans have for the music was evident since for the majority of songs everyone was singing along and dancing. But towards the end and slightly to my surprise, the pit was opened for a few songs, one being ‘buttercup’. And in sticking with the essence of the gig it was a sort of gentle mosh, one full of people looking ecstatic from the music.

If you’re somewhere where you can catch the rest of their tour that goes on until late July, I would highly recommend it. Hippo Campus sounds just as good if not better live. And if for some strange reason you haven’t yet listened to ‘Bambi’, definitely do - it’ll make you feel nostalgic and hopeful at the same time.

Words by Juno Harley Davies
Photography by Jordan Logan