Hailing to the sacred tradition of Dandelion Day, it’s no surprise that this year’s Spring Weekend concert caught the buzz of the student body once again. 

The performance, hosted at the Goergen Field after the main D-Day festivities had come to a close, started smaller and sunnier than expected. Hardly filling the depths of the grassy field, the opener emlyn played to a tiny but mighty crowd — yet one clearly eager to be here. In reference to her track “Plot Lines,” one fan even sported a “Mean Girls” inspired sign to parade throughout the performance, while others near the barricade were sure to scream along to each of her songs. As the crowd filled in, emlyn worked to keep up engagement, prompting the audience to dance with her on more upbeat tracks and swing their phone flashlights along on calmer ones. Seemingly hitting the right note across the audience, she paid tribute to personal favorites through covers of Olivia Rodrigo’s “traitor” and Joji’s “Glimpse of Us,” songs showcasing her clean vocals and blooming energy. With a bubble-pop and break-up-song based repertoire, her work felt reminiscent of that of Ava Max and Jax — songs you’d seem to hear while scrolling through TikTok or a YouTube hunt for new music. Brought to the stage, emlyn was able to make full showcase of her powerful vocals (often to a similar methodology of hitting a high note at each song’s bridge), as well as bask in the light of performing to an eager audience.

Yet, as the sun dipped away and the time quickly rolled to 8 p.m., it became clear why the student body had come out to Goergon Field: Hippo Campus. In all honesty, I’d heard many friends hold apprehensions about yet another indie-rock group headlining the D-Day Stage, particularly after COIN last year. With the potential to host artists including Waka Flocka Flame, Baby Tate, and Sean Kingston, it’s understandable why students would hope for a bit of a genre change. However, it’s easy to say that Hippo Campus pulled out the stops for the perfect closer to Dandelion Day, both for fans of their music and those just along for the ride. 

Standing at the front of the crowd, the packed house and eager chatter raised excitement throughout the house, even before the performance began. No matter how many finals one had or papers left to write, a small moment of student solidarity was tangible across the crowd. Maybe it was just the whiffs of blown-over cigarette smoke. 

Donned in funky sweaters, bright jackets, and other clothing one may deem as “2014 hipster-wear,” Hippo Campus took to the stage. The evening opened with a selection of their older hits – “South,” “Baseball,” and “Suicide Saturday,” ramping up the crowd’s energy as the band danced throughout the stage with guitars in hand. DeCarlo Jackson, the group’s trumpeter, took a new spotlight with the live performance, stirring the crowd with brass solos unfeatured on their recorded work. 

Even for those not keen on the band’s indie-rock style, their liveliness throughout the night clearly shone through. The band serenaded the crowd in washes of strobe lights as the night went on – waves of blues and flashing reds throughout tracks like “Bambi,” “Bang Bang,” and “Boys.” Keeping in tune with their college audience, the band joked about the event cost and about their experiences with hallucinogens and drugs — even passing around a blunt on stage during their track “Vacation.” Smoky staging is truly a classic for any performance, but this interpretation was certainly a first. 

Hippo Campus flexed their musical muscles throughout the evening — from their quick-paced arrangements to casual onstage conversations and the almost ambidextrous usage of a wide range of guitar and vocal pedals at the lead singer’s feet. It was clear that the group was having fun throughout the evening, a joy quickly reflected by the audience as each new song brought upon a spur of cheers, claps, and laughter. 

In an incredibly stressful season for all, Hippo Campus’ performance was a well-needed break from the craze of finals, and just as memorable as their name would suggest.

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