Music Notes: New Albums and Sold-Out Shows A Weekly Column Presented by The Sounds of Colorado College

By Augie Voss

EarthGang sells out last night of Mirrorland tour in Madison, Wis.

Comprised of Olu (aka Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (aka Doctur Dot), the Atlanta duo met in high school and began rapping together shortly after. EarthGang has since released several projects, founded the Atlanta-based rap collective Spillage Village, and played countless shows around the world, opening for Billie Eilish, Smino, and Mac Miller, just to name a few.

Their debut album “Mirrorland,” released September 2019 on J. Cole’s Dreamville label, features Young Thug, Kehlani, and T-Pain, among others. The album closely followed the release of “Revenge of the Dreamers III,” the most recent project from the Dreamville collective, on which EarthGang appears several times.

EarthGang’s music draws inspiration from the diverse music scene of Atlanta, and much of their recent work is a testament to the myriad genres, artists, and collectives that call the city home. The duo credits the 1978 film “The Wiz,” an all-black spin on “The Wizard of Oz,” for inspiring their album’s exploration of Atlanta’s black music scene. In a recent Pitchfork interview, Olu said, “Atlanta is the Land of Oz. It’s black people just being unafraid and unapologetically creative. Just running around being themselves.” 

Olu and WowGr8 sew this stylistic diversity into “Mirrorland,” continuing their demonstrated trend of eschewing classification within any specific genre.

In October, EarthGang hit the road for the second leg of the Welcome to Mirrorland Tour — their first headline run to date. Last week, the entourage wrapped up their fall tour with a sold-out show at Majestic Theater in Madison, Wis.

Pittsburgh rapper Benji started the night out with high energy and melodic bars, followed by Guapdad4000, whose smooth lyricism had concertgoers swaying back and forth from the first song. 

EarthGang burst onstage, feet barely touching the floor, and the crowd followed suit; mosh pits opened right away and nearly every song  had the whole venue opening up and raging. 

Olu and WowGr8 work together like they have a psychic connection, playing off one another’s energy and never missing a beat. For the song “This Side,” they enlisted the audience in a rowdy call-and-response, bringing the whole room together.

After a blazing encore of “Up,” both Benji and Guapdad4000 emerged and joined EarthGang in an onstage autograph session, signing everything from shoes to shirts to fake IDs. 

Leaving the show felt like coming out of a dream, a hyper-energized escape from reality through smooth bars, funky beats, trap snares, and moshpits- the fabric of the Oz-like world that EarthGang had theorized and explored in “Mirrorland.”

Hippo Campus brings Bambi Tour to Boulder

In November, indie-rock outfit Hippo Campus brought energy and Midwest charm to a sold-out crowd at the Boulder Theater as part of the extended tour for last year’s album “Bambi.”

Photo Courtesy of Augie Voss

Hailing from Minnesota, the band is comprised of Jake Luppen, Zachary Sutton, Whistler Allen, Nathan Stocker, and DeCarlo Jackson. The friends all met while attending Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. 

Their first project, the “Tarzan Rejects” EP, was released in 2013, and the band has since exploded into the mainstream. In 2017, they released their debut album “Landmark,” followed by their first international headline tour. To date, they’ve performed at festivals such as Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and sold out Colorado’s famous Red Rocks Amphitheater twice performing alongside indie-folk band Head and the Heart.

On a chilly fall night in Boulder, the sold-out venue was packed for the opener — an uncommon find at concerts these days. 

The Greeting Committee, a Kansas City indie-rock band, had the crowd moving immediately. Energetic and sprightly, they felt authentic.

After one of those set breaks that feels like forever, lead vocalist Zach Sutton sauntered onstage with a sly grin and a detectable air of confidence. The band followed, and they jumped right into title-track “Bambi,” a buoyant song that feels like cleaned-up bedroom dream-pop.

Their performance was marked by soaring vocals, sharp chords, and a bath of golden-orange light that gave a sleepy glow to an otherwise animated and engaging show. 

“I hope everyone feels happy and welcome,” said Nathan Stocker in between songs, genuinely checking in to make sure that concertgoers were having fun. The crowd cheered and the music continued.

They played a long show, covering plenty of tunes from “Bambi” alongside older favorites like “South” and “Suicide Saturday.” 

The encore, a rousing performance of “Buttercup,” brought the show to a close.

Hippo Campus wrapped up their Bambi tour in California last week and have yet to release tour dates for the new year. 

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