The A.V. Club, the arts and culture site that’s part of The Onion’s digital network, invited Hippo Campus in to participate in their “Undercover” series. Each year, the A.V. Club makes a list of songs and invites bands into their Chicago office to cover them. Once a song is picked, it gets scratched off the list, so the later a band comes in, the fewer songs they have to choose from.
Twin Cities hometown heroes Hippo Campus chose to cover “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra. Some of the other songs on this year’s list that had already been covered included “Reptilia” by the Strokes, “Renegade” by Styx, and Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.”
Guitarist Nathan Stocker told the A.V. Club, “We chose it after great deliberation because it was the only song left to choose.” In fact, according to the interview, there may have been a couple other songs on the list, but someone at the A.V. Club really wanted Hippo Campus to cover ELO.
Despite quite possibly being duped into covering the song, the members of Hippo Campus were all familiar with it and called it a “classic.” You can watch the band cover the song on the A.V. Club’s website.
Of course there’s a long running debate among listeners as to who singer Jeff Lynne was hoping not to “bring him down”: was it Bruce or “grroosss?” Almost all of Hippo Campus agreed it was Bruce, except bass player Zach Sutton who was partial to grroosss because it “has a certain spunk.” (For the record, even Lynne himself has gone back and forth.)
Hippo Campus have spent most of their summer on tour, opening for notable acts like Modest Mouse and Walk the Moon. The band also played Lollapalooza, which earned them the title of “Best Newcomers” at the festival, as judged by Rolling Stone. This fall they’ll be setting out on tour with JR JR, along with their first ever headlining tour.
Hippo Campus’s second EP South is set to be released on Oct. 2, but until then, you can catch them this weekend at the free Chipotle Cultivate Festival.
Sadie Bell, of Wayzata, is a Journalism + Design major at The New School in New York City.