Erin Hussey ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
With palpable anticipation, the House of Blues in Boston not only braced for an impending snowstorm but Hoodie Allen’s sold-out Happy Camper tour featuring Bryce Vine, Gnash, and SuperDuperKYLE on March 20th. The “hipster-hop” or “pop-rap” artist released his most recent album Happy Camper earlier in January and embarked on this supporting tour shortly after. Hoodie rose to fame after the 2012 release of his first EP, All American. Since, he has released two more EPs, as well as two full-length studio albums. Boston was the second to last date on the Happy Camper tour, and Hoodie prepared to go out with a bang. A classic venue, the House of Blues is a chain of concert halls in major cities across the United States. On this Sunday evening, the venue was sold-out at approximately a 2400 capacity. It was a sea of teens: young girls in groups, boys bearing bucket hats and hockey jerseys, and concert couples (Ah young love!) As with quite a few shows at the HOB, chaperoning parents mingled near the bar area, talking with one another.
The show opened a bit earlier than scheduled due to weather concerns, with Hoodie consciously tweeting, “Due to weather warnings, I’m making the concert slightly earlier so kids who have to drive far after can make it.” Rapper Bryce Vine began to warm up the audience around 7:15pm. Although performing for a crowd who had little idea who he was, he was able to get the excitement building, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
With a microphone draped in golden string lights and lighting design in pinks and yellows, the mood mellowed for USC graduate turned DIY artist, Gnash. Gnash stood out against his hip-hop influenced tourmates with his dreamy, acoustic pop music. The 22-year-old producer, singer-songwriter rose in popularity dramatically over the last year, highly due to his feature on Mod Sun’s 2015 Look Up tour and his growing social media presence. He performed with collaborator Goody Grace, including Spotify’s number one most viral track of 2015, “I Hate U I Love U,” a sullen acoustic cover of the classic “I Miss You” by Blink 182, and his thumping single “Fuck Me Up.” Gnash’s dreamers (what he calls his fans) could be picked out of the crowd, donning black shirts reading “nap enthusiast” and singing along. Those who didn’t recognize him swayed and nodded with approval.
The aura completely shifted when it became pitch-black, with the only sound from the stage a pounding bass and the “ksssh” of two light-sabers as rapper KYLE and his super duper crew took over. KYLE and Brick battled and broke out in a synchronized dance routine. The bit provided a swift introduction into “The Force,” a lyrical Star Wars metaphor about not letting negative people “bring you to the dark side” and using your force to make the world your own. Immediately, it’s clear that KYLE is an unconventional rapper, with a quirky flow, samples of video games (particularly Super Mario) woven into his performance and a guest appearance by a Pikachu costume. He engaged the audience with some “when I say this, you say that” antics as they yelled his lyrics back to him through favorites like “Sex and Super Smash Bros.” The crowd bounced to KYLE’s upbeat music and matched his tempo effortlessly.
White and yellow lights strobed to a piano beat as Hoodie finally strutted on the stage around 9:30pm. Belting the all too relatable first track “Intro to Anxiety” off Happy Camper, “Sometimes I let my ego get the best of me. Sometimes I wonder why my stress is stressing me. Sometimes I lay awake and I can’t go to sleep. This is my introduction to anxiety.” Screaming echoed in appreciation for the pop-rapper’s angsty insights. Winded after the first 5 minutes, Hoodie met his first rule of the evening, “Tonight, me and everyone else is gonna give 100% and leave smiling like a happy camper.” He performed tracks off the new album, with a surprise appearance from KYLE to help out on “Champagne and Pools”, and mixed it up with old favorites such as “Two Lips” and “Cake Boy.” With Hoodie’s reputation as an interactive performer in mind, I was not disappointed. During Cake Boy, Hoodie found his way to the middle of the mob and interacted with his fans there as he sang up close and personal. The crowd was in for another surprise when he smoothly sailed through them, literally on an inflatable raft as he sung suavely, “I’m all about it babe.” The energy was infectious, girls jumped around with their friends, couples danced, even parents bopped their heads a bit. By the time he came out for the extended encore, fans didn’t want to go home. Hoodie left the stage but returned shortly for an encore of “King to Me” and “No Interruption.” Confetti dropped from the ceiling, and everyone roared, and Hoodie’s DJ’s continued for several minutes after he left the stage. Tour members and crew even came on for their own little numbers, including Gnash’s merch guy Sean Henson, who danced and promptly balanced a chair on his chin.
The best word to describe the Happy Camper tour, as well as these artists, is authentic. They are unapologetically themselves on stage and went above and beyond to meet fans afterwards. Hoodie had a meet and greet before merch. KYLE and his superdupercrew, as well as Gnash all came out after the show, humbly taking photos for almost 30 minutes. Due to management constraints, Gnash technically wasn’t supposed to meet fans who didn’t buy a $5 poster. However, he just couldn’t say no to his dreamers. One girl said Gnash’s music made her feel connected to her best friend across the country, and he even recorded a video saying he hopes to see her friend soon. Above all, Hoodie Allen and the supporting artists strive to promote positivity, self-love, and smiles, but just with a little hip-hop edge.