Ultraviolet Hippopotamus 9.1.11

wsg The Floorwalkers & Burton’s Garden
The Loft – Lansing, MI

Words & Photos By Greg Molitor
(ReMIND Photography)

Frequenting The Loft on Thursdays is standard procedure for us live music fans in Mid Michigan, yet this was no ordinary evening in Lansing. Yes, the same ol’ cheap whiskey sauce flowed and the familiar family atmosphere radiated like it does every week, but what unfolded was a particular magic conjured by the most perfect of chain of events that made me rediscover the power of humanity once again.

Ultraviolet Hippopotamus is a band that over the past few years has become a part of my existence. When I heard a few weeks ago they would be playing a show on my birthday, in my hometown nonetheless, I didn’t bother to contain my excitement. What could be more perfect? September 1st finally came, and as my skin crawled with anticipation for the show throughout the afternoon hours, I couldn’t wait to leave work, meet friends, and dance my ass off until morning.

After hounding the clock for what seemed like days, it eventually arrived… 5:00 PM… quittin’ time. I moved with hyperspeed swiftness through some obligations and headed towards downtown for drinks with my best pal Adam. Another good friend, Zimmer, was functioning on snail time. I was looking forward to enjoying brews with him before the show as well, but since he and his lady friend Lauren were traveling slower than Moses, extended cocktail hour(s) became a duo session.

After some whiskey at a local bar, more was beckoning us to The Loft. We arrived around 10:00 PM to what began as an empty house, eventually filling in quite well for a Thursday night. Burton’s Garden took the stage a few moments later and was impressive from their opening notes to set’s completion. A local band with loads of energy, Burton’s and their rock and roll sound grow into something more professional each show. Bassist / vocalist Matt DiMambro led the band with a presence that demanded attention. Pulsing through deep grooves song after song, he owned the stage alongside newly acquired guitarist Kevin Paul who can absolutely shred the house when it’s time to shine. Keep an eye for these guys because they’re bound to make big splashes in the scene.

Columbus’s The Floorwalkers followed Burton’s Garden as friends began to arrive in joyous droves. Even though they were technically tight and offered interesting themes within their songs, the funky R & B act from Ohio lacked proper EQ leveling which made the sound tough to take. They were simply too loud to enjoy. I took the opportunity, an appreciated calm before the upcoming UV Hippo storm, to catch up with some faces I hadn’t seen in some time.

Ultraviolet Hippopotamus hit the stage around midnight. I had been waiting for days, weeks… who am I kidding? UV Hippo is one of the band’s I live to see, and for them to be playing a hometown birthday show was nothing short of a dream come true for me. They also hadn’t played The Loft previous to this event. It was obvious that UV Hippo was vibing off the room because what ensued was an inspired show even for them, a band that consistently brings serious noise wherever they decide to set up and knock it down. The set consisted of a wide mix of material ranging from older tunes such as “Dusty’s Trumpet”, “Square Pegs Round Holes”, “The Marine”, “Giants”, and “Cheshire Cat” (thanks guys!); some newer material such as “Hey Tommy” and “Tugboat”; and covers of The Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street”, Umphrey’s McGee’s “Nothing Too Fancy”, and Bob Marley’s “Soul Shakedown Party” that were each played to near perfection.

The crowd response to the music was overwhelmingly positive. Not only was the entire show an all-out dance-a-thon, there were multiple times where the majority of the crowd joined together in delight. They raised arms triumphantly when the band would peak its jams and shouting words of appreciation during and between songs. Pushing the band to greater heights many times over, the fans gave it their all as the final performance of the night became true give-and-take between UV Hippo and the audience.

One Set: Dusty’s Trumpet > Soul Shakedown Party > Cheshire Cat > Square Pegs Round Holes > Nothing Too Fancy > Soul Shakedown Party, Hey Tommy, Yin Yang > Giants > Tugboat, Shakedown Street, The Marine

There was mischief in the air as the masses spilled onto Michigan Avenue after the show. Everyone gathered together for laughter and general nonsense while the echoes of an after party at the nearby Radisson hotel could be heard. After sharing many hugs and smiles, I eventually made the journey towards the hotel with a handful of friends. What happened when I arrived was nothing short of magical. I opened the door to the room Zimmer had bought for the evening, but I only saw darkness. Odd. One step into the room, and I was blown away with love. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” was shouted by what sounded like a million voices. The lights came alive, and to my complete surprise, there were 25-30 friends waiting in the hotel room with cake, streamers, and balloons. They hang happy birthday as I stood in amazement of what had just transpired. It now made sense to me why it had taken Zimmer so long to get to the show. He and Lauren had planned it all. It was a beautiful moment in time, one of the most thoughtful things anyone has every done for me, and something that I’ll truly never forget. Thank you all so much for being the best friends a guy could ask for. Ok… time to party!


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