Ultraviolet Hippopotamus: 1.14.11
Words & Photos By Greg Molitor (ReMIND Photography & Journalism)
The Elbow Room - Ypsilanti, MI
Change is inevitable. The moment we become comfortable with situations in life, the winds of change always seem to arrive. Sweeping us off our feet and carrying us to destinations unknown, these gusts hold no favorites in their duties as everyone is susceptible to their constant, unwavering force. Yes, there will be challenges along each of our paths, and how we handle this inevitability is what ultimately defines our character...
Since the day I heard Sam Guidry (guitar, vocals) was leaving Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, my curiosity had kept me anxious to see how the band would react. I’m not a lover of suspense in situations like this, so when Friday, January 14th, arrived, I was both relieved and nervous to see the new lineup. Not only was this my first opportunity to see the five-piece break it down and build it up, it was a special occasion for two of my friends; not only was my best friend Jessica was celebrating her 26th birthday which happened to be the same day, but my pal Tony was preparing to leave for his second semester at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
As many friends both old and new gathered for the celebration, my emotions began to overwhelm me as it became evident that this night would be one for the books. Even the smallest moments, I have learned, can be infinitely powerful...what originally appeared to be merely one more show under my belt became anything but.
Ultraviolet Hippopotamus took the stage at The Elbow Room for a solid Eastern Michigan crowd and hit the ground running full speed. The band, as expected, has slightly changed their approach to jamming its tunes, but I was and still am ecstatic about its new direction. Dave Sanders (keyboards, vocals) has always impressed me with the musicality he displays on a nightly basis, and this new format allows him to shine brighter than ever; it has become his show, and he now speaks through his instruments with a clarity and drive previously unseen. Simply put, he is and continues to be one of the most talented musicians I have ever witnessed perform their craft.
The songs remain familiar, but the end result, while clearly still a product of Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, is fresh and wonderful. Highlights from the sets included a rockin’ “The Game”, a downright filthy “The Marine”, and a “Cheshire Cat” that comes across beautifully vibrant and dynamic with the new lineup. Russell James (guitar, vocals) is now the sole guitarist in the group and pulls much more weight with his playing, and although Guidry’s departure marked an end to harmonized guitar solos, an element that surely will be missed by long-time fans, the vocals, harmonies in particular, were fantastic throughout the evening. The band has put a lot of effort into tweaking its sound in order to fill the void left by Guidry, and it showed through its performance this evening. If the show was a signal to fans for things to come in the near future, those who follow UV Hippo should be excited! Be prepared for great things from the Hippos in 2011!
Set 1: The Game > The Scar , Tugboat > Funk Jam > Kindred Spirits , Run Rabbit Run > Yin Yang > Tiny Eyes > , Chorale
Set 2: Bob the Wondercat > Welcome Welcome , The Marine , Georgie > Verlander > Georgie , Medicine , Square Pegs Round Holes , Voodoo Lady , Cheshire Cat > Stoked on Razaki