Hippo Campus w/ Allan Kingdom

Saturday, 11/29/14
7th Street Entry
The audience for this sold out EP release show was full of long time fans who sang along not just to their single “Little Grace” or the rest of Bashful Creatures, but even to unreleased songs. When any group vocal portion of a song arrived and the audience’s volume matched the band’s, the bandmates glanced at each other with a look that said “Can this be real?”
Vocalist Jake Luppen’s effortless vocal leaps, and guitarist Nathan Stocker’s pristine echos of the melody line set this band apart as incredibly talented musicians. Bassist Zach Sutton and drummer Whistler Allen are the heartbeat of the band, keeping the tempos fast and energy high.
With plenty of songs in their own niche of quick tempo indie-pop, they also previewed their ability to play more variety with just as much skill when they threw in a few slow songs and rock driven numbers. They already have plenty of hits to choose from for their next release.
The audience needed no prompting to sing along, jump along, and dance along. They were as committed to experiencing the night as the band.
Although the four small men of Hippo Campus fit just fine on the stage of the entry, it was clear they are ready to graduate to larger rooms. They were giving off enough energy to reach the end of the block and back, and each and every soul in the room felt it.
Bummed you missed it? Well they’re playing playing again at the Triple Rock on December 27th. Get your tix here. Better get them quick, they’ll go fast.

Jungle w/ Empress Of

Thursday, 10/9/2014
First Avenue Mainroom

Empress Of and her band from New York started off the night with cool beats, and great dance moves. She has a fantastic voice, with a natural tremolo, but robotic falsetto. Although coy, she seems honestly excited about the reception from the audience.

As the screen went up for the main act, the audience was plunged into a jungle, with rainforest noises and green stage lights on everything. As the band entered the stage, their music pulled us deeper into the rainforest. The lights in the backdrop looked like falling rain, or shooting stars. Even shy Minnesotans couldn’t resist the pull and nearly every body in the room was moving. I was struck by the beauty of this groovy electronic dance band’s music. The live band utilized four vocalists, often in unison, that sounded spot-on and gorgeous every minute of the set. The performance was flawless.

The frontman, Josh Lloyd-Watson,  told the audience that exactly one year ago was the first time Jungle played as a band. I feel I can confidentially say for all Minnesotans in the room that we were honored to be able to celebrate their birthday and enter their jungle of music.

The Ericksons w/ BBGUN

The Cedar Cultural Center
Friday, 10/3/2014

I’ve known The Ericksons’ music for years now, and I love their older folksy sound, but I’m delighted about the new direction of their latest album Bring Me Home. They’ve traded a guitar for a synthesizer and picked up the tempo with a drum pad, all the while their songwriting and characteristic voices have stayed true to their roots. My favorite songs of the night were “Animal” and “My Love”, both off Bring Me Home. The latter had a Regina Spektor-like vibe because of the strong vocals mixed with upbeat and quirky rhythms. Each song, new and old, was delivered with intention and heart, and kept the audience emotionally present throughout the set.It was clear that both sisters were incredibly thankful to be playing for an audience full of friends and supporters. They couldn’t stop thanking Greg Euclide for creating the artwork for the album and fellow local musician Molly Maher for encouraging them to finish the album. The audience was thankful as well, with people jumping up to give a standing ovation as soon as they could.

Keep an eye out for more local shows featuring The Ericksons and make sure to check out their new album Bring Me Home.

Washed Out

First Avenue Mainroom
Monday, September 1st 2014

Although electronic and synth driven sets never seem to have the same “live” effect as more traditional guitar or piano based bands, Washed Out brought the night to life with feel good vibes. The set felt short and many songs were from their most recent album Paracosm.  They definitely left the audience wanting more.  Frontman Ernest Greene kept the energy high.  Although many fans stuck with their contented head bob, others gathered the courage to let their dance moves fly. While I would have loved to hear more songs from their previous album Within and Without, the fun-loving energy from the band and the audience was impossible to resist and I found myself loving every minute.

Bomba De Luz w/ Hippo Campus

Amsterdam Bar and Hall
Thursday, 9/14/2014
This release show at the Amsterdam not only showed off some of Minnesota’s best young talent, but also confirmed that young people in the Twin Cities have great tast in music. The show was all ages, and even as a youthful 22 year old, I could feel my age. But once I got over that, I kept thinking about how awesome it is that so many high school and college students will come out to a bar where they can’t even drink to support local musicians.
Hippo Campus has perfected the art of performance. Their flawless delivery and easy on-stage chemistry keeps their set equally visually and musically engaging. It’s only a matter of time until we see these four guys playing somewhere big.
This was my first time seeing Bomba De Luz with their new drummer Judah McCoy and keyboardist John Blanda. Bomba De Luz has always walked a careful line between their alternative rock foundation, and jazz and blues influences. While the new keyboardist is ready to pull them deeper into the world of jazz, the drummer keeps a firm grip on rock and roll. Lydia Hoglund’s vocals pull everything together and maintain that classic Bomba De Luz sound.

Bora York w/ Hippo Campus and Oklahoma

The Fallout

I had high expectation for my second visit to the Fallout after my awesome experience last month. I should have known I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Unlike January’s americana acoustic atmosphere, this month’s showcase was filled with high energy and electronica influence. Oklahoma eased us into the night with their alt-rock tunes, hints of Ben Fold, Bright Eyes, and Death Cab for Cutie adding to the mosaic of sound.



Hippo Campus took the stage next, and WOW can they put on a show. With their catchy beats, finger-lickin’ good guitar licks, and personal stage presence, it didn’t take long to the the entire room dancing along, literally. In complete honesty I have not danced that hard at a show for months. I had this feeling that I was witnessing the cusp of greatness. These four guys are going big places, I’m excited to see where they end up.

Hippo Campus

Hippo Campus


Last but not least was Bora York. They fed off of Hippo Campus’ momentum keeping the energy high and the audience moving. Their performance of Let Loose, a new song not yet released, left me anxious for more.

Bora York

Bora York

Fathom Lane w/ Verskotzi and Ben Rosenbush

Sweet 317

There may have been some confusion finding this show, but once we arrived, it was clear we were in for a wonderful night of music.

The long, narrow room was lit by chandeliers and lamps. Each corner had a stack of vintage suitcases, new and old instruments, and live plants placed throughout. The pre-show jazz music played in the background as friends caught up, and musicians encouraged each other.

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Ben Rosenbush started the night with a solo set. Well, plus a harmonizing pedal, so maybe that makes it a duet. Either way he didn’t need it, his storytelling and musicianship easily commanded the room of attentive listeners.

Joey Verskotzi was up next. His bluesy electric guitar and catchy tunes cranked up the energy a notch. He mixed the energy of the full band with the intimacy of a solo performance for a set I won’t forget. I’ll be looking for another chance to see Verskotzi perform live.

Fathom Lane closed up the night, complete with a young girl falling asleep next to the keyboard. And I have to admit by 11:45 I was sleepy too, but a good kind of sleepy. A very content sleepy.