Hippo Campus lit up the night in San Diego at the Observatory North Park on April 10th, 2022. The line to get in was wrapped around the building for the sold-out show; you could feel the pre-show excitement in the air. Chatters of wishes to hear old favorites and claims of the band’s fame were mixed with exchanges on favorites from Hippo Campus’s recent release. To the audience’s delight, we were treated with an amazing array of jams, plus an amazing opener — Ginger Root. Not bad for a Sunday night!
The room was already packed when Ginger Root took the stage.
Singer-songwriter Cameron Lew hails from Huntington Beach as the brains of the operation, alongside touring members Matt Carney (bass) and Dylan Hovis (drums). Lew self-proclaims their genre as “aggressive elevator soul” and, honestly, it’s completely accurate. It was a truly soulful experience that had the audience instantly hooked. For me, it was when Lew asked the audience for a hydration break in music that had me filled with admiration — have you ever seen a show where the band asks the audience to stop and get water? How polite! When they continued, what ensued could only be described as a giant dance party with a few breaks for LOLs (as Lew’s quirky personality shined with every conversation with the audience) and hydration. The sound, though? Incredible. Lew brings a whole new definition to the pop genre with insane bass solos, sick key riffs and, my personal favorite, a specific old-school telephone — turned into a microphone — for a tad bit of rawness and even some screamo in there! Just. Raw. I’m hooked and so was the entire Observatory.
At the conclusion of their set, the audience rushed for a much needed water break from the dance party before rushing back to the stage to eagerly await the arrival of Hippo Campus. As the crowd waited for the main act, an exciting tension filed the air from lightly ominous sounds reverberating from the loudspeakers rather than a band’s playlist for added effect. When the lights dimmed, the band made its epic appearance, one at a time, and the crowd was completely engulfed in joy. When Jake Luppen and Nathan Stocker (lead guitarists/ vocals) took the mics, “2 Young 2 Die” began and the festivities began.
There wasn’t one person in the room that was still.
An incredible stage set-up (props to their lighting production team!!) combined with a wonder array of hits spreading throughout all three of HC’s albums made for an experience any Campus fan would appreciate. Zach Sutton (bass/keys) and Whistler Allen (drums) kept the energy alive; it really looked like all five of them were just having a good time with friends rather than performing. Trumpet star Decarlo Jackson made his statement during his solo in smash hit “Bambi” — the audience gave him spirit fingers in return. Two other old favorites we were blessed with were “Monsoon”, “Vacation” and “Warm Glow”, plus some new well-received tunes like “Blew Its”, “Ashtray” and “Bang Bang”.
Overall, I left this show needing a massive rehydration and ice for my sore knees… true tells of an excellent night. You really don’t want to miss either one of these guys, from the epic amazing personality of Ginger Root to the smashing dance party that Hippo Campus brings. Check them out now!
Photography by Franny Kovacs