This week’s episode begins with music from Saint Paul’s underage tropical indie rock band Hippo Campus, before showcasing cuts from synth-heavy La Crosse act Random Tongues, MPLS indie fuzz trio Fury Things, Decorah’s legendary Joe Price, twangy country-folk singer Bill Geezy & the New Deal, and La Crosse alt-rockers Red Sky Warning. Lastly, this episode also features a track I recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis with my now-disbanded female-fronted rock band Accident Waiting to Happen.
Hippo Campus is a quartet of 2013 high school grads that was recently profiled on The Current’s local music blog by Andrea Swensson. Their sound is impressive. Tight and polished, it reminds me of Vampire Weekend, however that’s a comparison they brush off in the piece. Instead, they offer up the names of some more obscure English acts:
“In reality, the band says the are most influenced by Bombay Bicycle Club, Last Dinosaurs, Little Comets, and the defunct Manchester group WU LYF, who also had an enduring philosophical impact on Hippo Campus.”
It is sometimes too easy to forget how essential all-ages venues and stages are in developing and perpetuating a healthy music scene. Or as Ms. Swensson, put it in her piece:
“Why do these gifted young artists have to turn 18 before they can break into the wider local music community? “
As someone who both attended and played club gigs as a teenager (with my band Accident Waiting to Happen, also featured in this episode), I can certainly sympathize. While I have regrettably not been to a show at La Crosse’s all-ages mecca, The Warehouse, in far too long, the club had such an overwhelmingly positive impact on my underage years that I make a point to donate whenever they have a fund drive. The Warehouse is vehemently against predatory “pay to play” policies as well, which Hippo Campus mentions in the piece by Swensson:
“There’s so much talent in younger bands nowadays,” says Jake Luppen, who leads Hippo Campus along with co-frontman and guitarist Nathan Stocker. “We have a bunch of friends who are doing the high school thing like we were doing last year. They’re all really talented, but it seems like a lot of venues prey on the fact that they’re so young, and make them sell a bunch of tickets. It’s a really big problem. These booking agencies, they don’t compensate for performances. You play shows for free unless you sell a bunch of tickets.”
Making live music accessible for all ages audiences and performers makes the entire music community stronger. I think musician and K Records founder Calvin Johnson put it best, in a quote that seems to pop up everywhere:
“Rock ‘n roll is a teenage sport, meant to be played by teenagers of all ages – they could be 15, 25 or 35. It all boils down to whether they’ve got the love in their hearts, that beautiful teenage spirit.”
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