Michigan Scene: Ultraviolet Hippopotamus
Ultraviolet Hippopotamus live @ The Temple Club in Lansing, MI
I could not wait for this show! It had been almost 2 months since my last UV show and that is far too long for me. I will admit I’m a little spoiled getting to see one of my favorite bands so often, being that they are from Michigan. We pulled up to the Temple Club around 9, taking our time since we knew there was an opening band. I gave the doorman my ID and he went on to give me crap about being a organ donor. He told me I was taking money away from my family because they could sell my organs instead of me giving them to strangers. It was an interesting conversation that I’m guessing I will never have again, but I had a good laugh. It was $10 admission but we opted to pay $20 for the VIP ticket. Really, you didn’t get anything VIP like for the extra $10, but I was just happy to help support a band I really believe in.
The Temple Club is what appears to be an old church. I didn’t see the downstairs venue but apparently it’s a bit bigger than the upstairs where the show was. The paint on the walls is old and chipping off but in a way that seemed to add character more than make it look dumpy. There are two huge stained glass windows with religious themes and it doesn’t look like much work has been done to the venue in a while. Although, they did put in these square glass blocks in the floor in a few places. They light up from underneath at various times, it was pretty cool I must say. Such a simple idea and yet it really added to the atmosphere.
When we walked up the stairs I immediately noticed that the sound was awful, it was far too loud and just didn’t sound crisp at all. You also had to scream to hear the person next to you and it was a very small place for that kind of volume. The band playing was Four Finger Five out of Muskegon, MI. I had never seen these guys live before but I kind of knew what they were about. I have heard some music from various samplers and heard good things from friends. I really wasn’t digging it at all, and because of this it seemed to take forever for them to get off stage and UV to come rage. I will say that the bass player, Mike Phillips, is a freaking beast. The man can play! They had some catchy tunes, just not for me I guess.
One thing that was really different about this show for me was the addition of a pretty decent light rig. I was really impressed with the moving lights. Having programmed and used those a few times in college I am always happy to see them added to any musical experience. They also had two projection screens above the stage that they were mixing live feed video of the band with some pretty tripped out footage. I loved this addition as well, this was really big in Amsterdam when I was over there in 2006. If the person working the controls knows the music well it can be a pretty psychedelic addition to any show. Why did they have all these fun gadgets you ask, because Touch Audio volunteered their services for the show. Nice!
After a short break in between bands UV Hippo came on stage, opening with "Cream Soda" and bringing it from the start. I knew it was going to be a good one. The sound was much better, it wasn’t nearly as loud and it sounded much cleaner than the Four Finger Five set did. UV has a really good audio guy on their hands for sure. There was a good turn out and people were immediately getting down to some Hippo. They wasted no time getting to one of my favorites, "Yin Yang". This is one of those songs that I think really defines why I love this band so much. It really lets them shine, with its fast pace and triumphant builds it’s really no surprise why it’s such a fan favorite.
The set continued with a solid "Bob the Wondercat" into a cover of Phish’s "Down with Disease". Personally I thought they did a great job but I can’t say they nailed it. I say that only because even though I’m a fan of Phish, I am no expert. Either way the crowd loved it and you could see that the band was having a really good time playing it. Plus a cover is always great to get the first timers involved in the show. I mean who doesn’t like to sing along to a song that everyone knows!?! After "Down with Disease" they went into "Kindred Spirits". I’m a nerd for lyrics, and this song has one of my favorites. “ And the music will set you free, if you listen carefully…”.
At this point I started to wonder if the boys were going to take a set break, nope. They played on and never faltered. One of the things about this band that really separates them from the rest is their consistency. I have seen them with a pretty packed house as well as being one of about fifteen people in the audience; and they always bring the heat. They went on to play "North Coast" which is a clever, bluegrass/rock song about Michigan, that’s a blast to dance and sing to. I went out to get some air and came back in just in time for "DNT". I have mixed feelings about this song. The first time I heard it was on a recording of Wuhnurth from last year. It was new then and was purely instrumental, and I loved it that way. They added some lyrics as the song developed and I still dig it, just liked it much more when it was instrumental. In my opinion it told a story with out the words just fine, but hey it’s not my song now is it?
The show continued with "The Scar", "Johnny G", and then into one of my favorites "Run Rabbit Run". "RRR" went into "The Marine" which was in my opinion one of the best parts of the night. They raged and I danced my ass off. "Medicine" came up next, a slower, feel good song that “makes you feel better”. The set ended on fire with "B’Guzzler" and all I was thinking was I hope there is an encore. Of course, there was. I was a little disappointed at first because they chose to cover "1999" by Prince. Meh. But it’s OK, they ended on point with "The Game" and totally destroyed it. It was the right way to end such an awesome show and I’m glad I got to be there for it.
I really can’t stress how much I love this band! They are the nicest guys and you can tell they love doing what they are doing. I guarantee I will keep seeing these guys for a long time and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.
Photos By Tim Ramirez
Ultraviolet Hippopotamus Live at The Loft, Lansing MI on April 23, 2010.