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Hippos on Campus? Indie rock band to headline fall Lawnparties

<h6>Courtesy of <a href="https://artists.teamwass.com/music/artists/hippo-campus/" target="_self">Wasserman Music</a></h6>
Courtesy of Wasserman Music

Fall 2022 Lawnparties will feature Twin Cities indie rock outfit Hippo Campus as its headliner, according to an email to students from the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Social Committee on Tuesday, Aug. 23. 

The show is set to take place on the Frist North Lawn on Sunday, Sept. 11, the first weekend after the start of classes, marking the first time the event will take place so close to the start of the semester since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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USG Social Chair Madison Linton ’24 told The Daily Princetonian that the Social Committee chose to “try out a new style of music for the headliner as opposed to the typical rap” after reviewing student responses to recent feedback surveys about Lawnparties distributed by USG.

Hippo Campus is a five-part band consisting of vocalists and guitarists Jake Luppen and Nathan Stocker, drummer Whistler Allen, bassist Zach Sutton, and trumpeter DeCarlo Jackson. The five have been friends since middle school and put out their first EP, “Bashful Creatures,” in 2014. The band has racked up over 2.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and they earned the No. 6 spot on Billboard’s emerging artists chart this past February following the release of their third studio album, “LP3.”

The group has previously been featured on Conan O’Brien’s late night show “Conan” and in festival lineups across the U.S. and the U.K., including New York’s Governors Ball in 2019, Chicago’s Lollapalooza in 2017, and England’s Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2018. This spring, shortly after the release of “LP3,” the group embarked on a North American tour, playing such venues as Brooklyn Steel, 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., and Boston’s House of Blues.

Last fall, USG faced criticism after booking alt-rock group LANY as the Lawnparties headliner, as students pushed back on the choice of a band whose lead singer has been accused online of inappropriate conduct. USG ultimately chose to remove the act, citing those student concerns, and replaced the band with A$AP Ferg just two days before the event.

Hippo Campus has performed for college audiences previously, including as a student band in the University of Minnesota’s 2014 Battle of the Bands, opening for award-winning rapper Mac Miller. More recently, they played a virtual concert amidst the COVID-19 pandemic for Michigan State University students in January 2021.

Frequently labeled a group of “indie sweethearts,” the members of Hippo Campus have spoken in interviews about toxic masculinity and discussed the importance of setting a positive example for fans in an industry rife with assault and abuse allegations.

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“We can be one of the few bands who can provide a safe space for these young girls,” said lead singer Luppen in an interview with Atwood Magazine. The frontman has also spoken with Billboard about his queer identity and his support for Britney Spears.

With a largely female fan-base, the group has often signaled support for activist groups and causes. “Buttercup,” the closing single off Hippo Campus’s debut album “Landmark,” reportedly “became an unintentional activist anthem” when it was played over loudspeakers at the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. in 2018. The band has partnered with organizations such as the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Planned Parenthood, and Everytown for Gun Safety.

Hippo Campus will take the Lawnparties stage at approximately 4 p.m., rounding out a day of festivities that typically include activities along Prospect Avenue, free food, eating club debauchery, and large group photos in the Fountain of Freedom, known to most of campus as the SPIA Fountain.

Set to open the event is student performer Villanelle, formerly known as Sam Spector Music. Villanelle will perform at 3 p.m.

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Sam Spector ’24 describes Villanelle as a “solo project” with some “regular live band members” performing with her. She said the group has been preparing since they got the news last week.

“[We] wrote and recorded a lot of new music over the summer and I’m just crazy excited to share with everyone!” she wrote in a message to the ‘Prince.’

“On a personal note, I’m a massive fan of Hippo Campus, so this is totally a dream come true for me,” she said. “I can’t wait! It’s gonna be a good one!”


Villanelle is set to take the stage as the student opener for Fall 2022 Lawnparties.
Courtesy of Sam Spector ’24


This fall will mark the second Lawnparties in a row that the headlining act is staged on the lawn in front of Frist Campus Center. The spring’s headliner, rapper Flo Milli, performed there as ongoing campus construction left the traditional venue, Quadrangle Club’s backyard, unviable.

Linton told the ‘Prince’ that Frist North Lawn “seems like the safest option” given the instances of student injury in fall 2021, when A$AP Ferg performed to a rowdy crowd behind Quad, the previous host of the event.

Carrington Johnson ’24, a student dancer in Flo Milli’s spring show, said that she thought “the new location was definitely a great move.” She told the ‘Prince’ that from the stage, she could see that while the venue did not by any means feel empty, there was enough space so that “everybody could be comfortable where they were.”

Linton also shared that the USG Social Committee is working to make more food available to students throughout the day and to make Lawnparties more eco-friendly.

Guest tickets for the concert will also go on sale at a later date.

Hippo Campus is set to tour again in the fall, with their Lawnparties performance situated between shows in Quincy, Mass. on Aug. 20 and Norfolk, Va. on Sept. 30.

The group’s management did not respond to a request for comment from the ‘Prince’ by the time of publication.

Annie Rupertus is a sophomore from Philadelphia, Pa. and a News staff writer who covers USG for the Prince. She can be reached at arupertus@princeton.edu or @annierupertus on Instagram and Twitter.

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