Local Current Blog

Hippo Campus follow up successful SXSW run with Conan appearance

Photos by Brian Stack

It’s hard to believe that Hippo Campus only formed a year and a half ago and released their debut EP, Bashful Creatures, in November. Tonight, the St. Paul quartet of 19- and 20-year-olds will make their late-night television debut as the musical guests on Conan.

“We like Hippo Campus so much, we’re starting a tribute band, Rhino University,” Conan O’Brien’s team joked on their TeamCoco site. “We’re terrible, so you should probably just stick to Hippo Campus.”

The call to play Conan came just a few days ago amidst a heaping of helpful buzz for the band at this year’s SXSW. The late-night show’s music scout, Jim Pitt, reportedly caught the band playing one of their barn-burning sets at the festival and was impressed—and it turns out Pitt was tipped off to Hippo Campus by the Current’s own program director Jim McGuinn, who sat on a panel with Pitt for SXSW’s “New Music Meeting.”

“Sean Coakley, the guy that runs that panel, put out an email saying he was looking for submissions, and I thought it might be a great opportunity to get a read on where Hippo Campus was at if they got a play among the dozen or so songs that get spun each year,” McGuinn says. “So I emailed Sean with our story of how they’ve emerged in the past year locally. He checked out their record, and out of many submissions, picked ‘Suicide Saturday’ as one of the tracks to play for the group. It was cool, because a lot of folks came up to me later and asked about the band.”

The quartet was already planning to be traveling through California today—they have a tour stop scheduled in San Francisco tomorrow night—and they pulled into Los Angeles last night to get ready for this afternoon’s taping.

Hippo Campus will appear on Conan tonight alongside comedian Kevin Hart and WWE wrestler Roman Reigns. The show airs at 10 p.m. on TBS.

Here’s a shot of the band’s drum kit on the set of Conan, which comes to us courtesy of one of the show’s music-loving sketch writers, Brian Stack:


And here’s Stack’s shot of lead singer Jake Luppen sound-checking on set today:


Between Allan Kingdom’s appearance with Kanye West on his new single, “All Day,” and Hippo Campus’s much buzzed-about joyride through SXSW, the new generation of artists are putting St. Paul, Minn. on the map in a big way.

And if you missed it last night, here’s the Hippo Campus performance on Conan:



Hippo Campus perform live in the Current’s studios

Hippo Campus emerge from the bustling underground all-ages scene

#Current10: Cold War Kids, Dead Man Winter, Hippo Campus, and Allan Kingdom rock First Avenue