Live Review- Little Comets & Hippo Campus @ The O2, Oxford

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Hippo Campus was an unexpected triumph as the support act at this gig.  The group of four, formed in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2013, perform a fresh brand of reggae-inflected sunny indie rock that simply shines when performed live.  Just after the release of their second EP, and coming off the back of tours supporting the likes of Walk The Moon, it is evident that the band is gearing up for the breakthrough which I have no doubt they will achieve.  Their excellent stage presence and complex yet catchy rhythms had the crowd bouncing in next to no time; from where I was standing, it looked like they were having the time of their lives, and I was impressed at the fun they managed to fit into the restricted set list afforded to support bands.

Little Comets are not an entirely different beast.  The band, having recently expanded from a three- to a five- piece, are nearing the end of their most recent tour on the back of their third studio album, which is their first released outside the remit of a major record label. The band capitalised on the party atmosphere generated by Hippo Campus, as well as the core of fans they have built up since inception, to provide an excellent gig experience.   If ever there were a band to epitomise the oft-overused ‘indie’ name, it is Little Comets; their music features, among other things, homespun recordings of household appliances, and is released on their own (appropriately named) The Smallest Label.  Now that we’ve got that stuff out of the way, let’s begin – whoever you are, wherever you are, I cannot recommend this band to you enough.

This is a band not afraid to sing about the state of our country and of the industry they reside in; the track “Violence Out Tonight” deftly addresses rape culture without being heavy handed, and its live performance does not, as you might expect, crush the fun-loving tone of the gig. Another personal favourite, “A Little Opus”, is a frankly terrifying exploration of the elitist culture that exists in British society and politics (yes, it’s about Oxbridge).  These frankly heavy topics are not shoehorned in – it is evident that the band cares deeply about what they say and how they say it; they are political without being predictable, which is a whole lot more than can be said for most other bands.  All this, cemented in incredible harmonies and guitar solos played with screwdrivers; Little Comets are a musical experience not to be missed, either live or recorded.

Little Comets’ latest album, Hope Is Just A State Of Mind, is out now.

Hippo Campus’ second EP, SOUTH, is also out now.

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Music, Live ReviewsNed RayComment