It was almost as if the four smiley, clean-cut, mostly Woodbury-bred young men of the jubilant and jangly pop/rock group Hippo Campus had a checklist to mark off in 2015:
1. Prove yourself before big crowds of music hipsters who’ve heard ample hype on you? Check. They did that over two consecutive weeks at First Avenue in January for the club’s Best New Bands night and then 89.3 the Current’s birthday party, where they were as warmly received as rock stars thrice their age, the Trashmen.
2. Generate a buzz at the country’s biggest trendsetting music conference? Check. They tore through seven gigs at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, earning praise — and actual paying gigs.
3. Make your national TV debut before your 21st birthday? Check. The SXSW buzz landed them on “Conan” with only a few days’ notice. You wouldn’t have noticed any signs of nervousness, though. The “Conan” crew even joked afterward: “We like Hippo Campus so much that we’re starting a tribute band, Rhino University.”
4. Shut up and get in the van? Check. From February through November, the tour virgins were on the road almost nonstop, and by summer had landed opening dates for My Morning Jacket, Walk the Moon and Modest Mouse as well as festival slots at Lollapalooza and Reading.
5. Come home and sell out your first First Ave headlining show weeks in advance? Oh, and leave the crowd ecstatic, too? Double check. Last month’s homecoming gig was the kind of dream scenario that comes true only every few years for a local band.
Can’t wait to see what’s on their list for 2016.