Ultraviolet Hippopotamus’s CD Release Party: 4.1.11 & 4.2.11

Words & Photos By Greg Molitor (ReMIND Photography)

Oh those Hippos…they’re always up to something. After a month’s worth of resting while planning our auditory demise, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus dropped a couple of dandy performances this past weekend in Grand Rapids. The highly anticipated event, a two-night run at Billy’s Lounge, was a celebration for the band’s recently released album, Square Pegs, Round Holes, and what a celebration it was…

Both nights brought out folks from all walks of life to Billy’s Lounge…locals, friends, relatives, travelers passing through town…the crowds were as diverse as I’ve seen at Ultraviolet Hippopotamus shows, and per usual, the Hippos threw it down properly. In fact, I’ll put the 4.1.11 show up against any show I’ve seen UV perform. It was THAT good, easily one of the best the band has played with me in attendance.

When the Hippos are clickin’, the collective’s groove is a cohesive as any band on the scene. The music moved like a well-oiled machine, and the packed houses responded to the band’s intensity at every turn. The crowd had the venue absolutely rockin’ both nights. As a guy who sees a lot of shows, I can usually pick out a few moments during a performance where the energy drops or the band loses direction. I’m proud to profess that Friday’s show was near perfection, a representation of the band’s capabilities when everything falls into place exactly how it should. Saturday’s show got off to a slow start, but like the professionals they have become, the guys picked it up in the second set almost to the level of the previous night. UV Hippo was clearly inspired, and it had no reason not to be considering the momentum this dynamic quintet is carrying these days.

Hippos Dave Sanders (keyboards), Brian Samuels (bass), Joe Phillion (drums), Russ James (guitar), and Casey Butts (percussion) were having as much fun as the audience throughout the run. For having played its originals hundreds of times, UV Hippo’s still carries a passionate attitude to set out and crush whatever tune is next on the set list. Making it look oh so easy both nights, the band filled the room with intense, jaw-dropping peaks while carrying a sense of duty to completely demolish anything in its path. The most unique and consequently enjoyable moments of the weekend for me were the band’s selection of covers. Some personal favorites were Tool’s “Aenima”, Ween’s “Voodoo Lady”, and Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla”.

The jam in “Voodoo Lady” brought forth all of the elements that made me fall in love with Hippo a few years back. Coming out of the composed segment of the tune, the band morphed into the trance rock beast that it’s known to become. The slowly building tempo pushed by Phillion, Butts, and Samuels was constantly bombarded with Sander’s psychedelic synth splashes and James’s raw guitar work throughout the entire jam, and as the music started reaching its emotional peak, I ran to the stage and showed my approval by directing some tastefully delivered obscenities to the band. With this particular jam, UV Hippo removed my soul, played hot potato with it, and then used it to slap me across the face exactly when it should have, changing me forever for the better. Well played, sirs.

Night One Set List – 4.1.11

Set One: Welcome Welcome > Dusty's Trumpet, Georgie > Voodoo Lady > Yin Yang > Cheshire Cat > Tiny Eyes > Yin Yang, Tugboat

Set Two: Aenima > Verlander, Hey Tommy, Broomhilda > Matt's Atlas > Tonight We're Gonna Rock It > Matt's Atlas, Slippery People > The Game > Slippery People > The Game

Night Two Set List - 4.2.11

Set One: Kindred Spirits > Head in the Trees > T1J > Bob the Wondercat > T1J, Johhny G, B'Guzzler > Background Music > North Coast > Background Music

Set Two: Godzilla > EMD > Square Pegs Round Holes > Songs for the Reaper, IGCS > Drums > Miss Brown > Run Rabbit Run, Chorale, The Marine


Greg’s Photo Gallery


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