Even before they could start their first national tour, young Twin Cities rockers Hippo Campus will make their national TV debut Tuesday night on “Conan.” The jangly guitar-pop band – whose members are all ages 19-20 -- earned the gig with only a couple days’ notice after the music booker for Conan O’Brien’s late-night TBS show caught on to their buzz at the South by Southwest Music Conference over the weekend in Austin, Texas.
“We’re all freaking,” singer/guitarist Jake Luppen said Monday afternoon from a Chipotle restaurant in Yuma, Ariz. He and his bandmates were already headed to California from Texas to start their first tour in San Francisco on Wednesday with the Mowgli's when they heard the news. “Now we have hotel rooms in L.A. we can stay in,” Luppen quipped (“Conan” is filmed in Los Angeles and provides lodging to guests).
The band members did not immediately announce the news on Monday because they wanted to surprise their parents with a video announcement from the road. Such nice boys! They just posted the video via Instagram, re-posted below.
“Conan” music scout Jim Pitt reportedly caught one of Hippo Campus’ Austin gigs after first hearing their track “Suicide Saturday” on SXSW’s “New Music Meeting” panel, whose speakers included 89.3 the Current’s program director Jim McGuinn. The quartet will follow hugely popular comic Kevin Hart, who’s plugging his new movie with Will Ferrell, “Get Hard.”
As we reported in our frontpage story on the Minnesota youth movement at SXSW 2015, Hippo Campus already enjoyed quite a successful debut at SXSW even before the "Conan" gig came around. The mostly Woodbury-bred crew played seven gigs total in Austin, including parties for the AV Club, Lollapalooza/ACL Fest promoter C3 and TV foodie Rachael Ray, in addition to a well-attended official showcase on the Maggie Mae’s rooftop patio.
“It seemed like each of our shows were more and more crowded with people,” Luppen happily reported. They hung out with a few celebrities in Austin, too, including Elijah Wood and Green Day’s Mike Dirnt. And they’re not even TV stars yet…
“Conan” airs at 10 p.m. here in Minnesota. Hippo Campus will swing back through town with the Mowgli's for an April 3 show at the Varsity Theater on their way to a summer of touring that also includes My Morning Jacket opening gigs and a Red Rocks Amphitheater date with Walk the Moon.