Ultraviolet Hippopotamus’s Steely Dance Party

Bell’s Eccentric Café
Kalamazoo, MI
October 27, 2011

Words & Photos By Greg Molitor
(ReMIND Photography)

Think about the countless hours we invest towards listening, touring, breathing with our most beloved bands every year. They add up quickly, and unless you’ve developed a habit of living on road, the show-after-show grind, after a while, can sometimes lead us toward stagnant live musical experiences. Thankfully, there’s Halloween for our sanity. Refreshingly inspiring after what is typically a marathon summer of events, jam concerts performed around the holiday offer once-in-a-lifetime, I-can’t-believe-you-weren’t-there-to-witness-that-shit-type rejuvenation to the veteran jammer. And we welcome the weirdness! As silly antics from our favorite bands take us back to heart of the matter, we’re reminded as to why we came in the first place. Music is the destination, and for many, when the time comes, a particular Halloween show is the only place to be.

October 27th. Time to dress up, get stupid, and party with friends. Hell. Yes. Ultraviolet Hippopotamus was the ticket for evening; set to rock Bell’s Eccentric Café yet again with their explosive grooves, Michigan’s favorite outfit of spatial sonic explorers had smooth sailing planned in the form of “A Steely Dance Party”, a second set tribute to, you guessed it.... Before the Steely Dan experiment, Hippo performed a well-crafted original set that flowed marvelously. The opening chicken pickin’ bluegrass of “North Coast” dropped brilliantly into an uberfunky “Cheshire Cat” that contained one of the best jams of the evening. From “Cheshire”, the band moved into the trance of “That 1 Jam”, and then into “Giants”, capping the mammoth four-song beginning segment with beautiful, heartfelt rock and roll. The way UV Hippo mindfully constructed this set was beyond impressive. Many bands can jam, but to develop thought-provoking, diverse songs AND weave them together into a set that varies in style, pace, and mood? That’s pro.

Ultraviolet Hippopotamus finished their first set with a grimy “The Marine” to a nearly packed dance floor. As the majority of those in attendance sported yachting attire suggested by the band, the atmosphere radiated with youthful exuberance. Even the most casual of onlookers would surely notice this as an unordinary show. Returning to the stage wearing costumes, the band plowed through a second set that featured the relaxed jazz rock of Steely Dan. The material, as expected, didn’t hit home personally but was admirably performed in a whimsical manner which reinforced the evening’s celebratory nature. This was a Halloween show, after all, an opportunity for both fans and Ultraviolet Hippopotamus to step away from the norm and find pleasure in shear ridiculousness.

After the Dan set that featured such tunes as “Peg”, “Kid Charlemagne”, and “Green Earrings”, the collective regrouped backstage for a few moments, then returned for a double encore of “Hey Tommy > Verlander”. The final selections, having developed into powerful jam vehicles during this newest era of Hippo, displayed the band’s growth as a five-piece during 2011. For the quintet that’s modest and more humble than most, these guys take their duty to perform with a seriousness that demands attention and respect, even on a playful Halloween night filled with nonsense. Michigan, for certain, is extremely fortunate to call UV Hippo its own, and during nights like this, it’s all the more evident to us lucky fans.

Set One: North Coast > Cheshire Cat > T1J, Giants, Broomhilda, Georgie, Bob the Wondercat > Background Music, The Marine

Set Two: Black Cow, Peg, Any Major Dude Will Tell You, The Fez, Show Biz Kids, Kid Charlemagne, Green Earrings

Encore: Hey Tommy > Verlander


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