The Happy Camper Tour featuring Hoodie Allen, SuperDuperKYLE, and Blackbear at the Santa Ana Observatory, February 10th 2016
Photos by Summer Dos Santos
Words by Nick Nuk'em
Among all of the chaos that defines midterm week for undergrads who’d rather do nothing more than step out for a party full of the music that characterizes what will be some of the wildest nights of their lives, nothing could be more distracting than a local show featuring acts whose material is steeped in adolescence. On Wednesday night at the Observatory in Santa Ana, the Happy Camper tour featured So Cal Natives Blackbear and Super Duper Kyle, headlined by the frisky Hoodie Allen who’d cap the night off with an outstanding show.
Up first was Blackbear, former indie artist who’s now become a surging R&B artist that could very well hold his own against any crooners getting major acclaim today. Past likenings include a mix of Frank Ocean and Owl City (http://www.mtv.com/news/2301564/blackbear-foreplay/), which might be better described as a Drake meets 3!OH!3. The LA native’s rock influence remains strong as the first act takes the stage in the Black short-sleeve button-up you might cop from a Pac Sun, wearing Black Superstars with white stripes. The “idfc” artist even holds his mic prepared to scream into it at any given moment. Starting out with one of his most popular, “Dirty Laundry”, Bear is quickly smiting the female fans in the audience, who grab onto his hand for dear life as he embraces those in the pit.
“My time is limited,” Blackbear announces not long after obliging to the perform “90210” on which he’s featured with G-Eazy. Dismay rings throughout the Observatory. The high-note hitting songwriter, turns his back toward a projector screen playing Tame Impala “Currents” type graphics and begins the popular “idfc”. The crowd yells the lyrics at him until he turns around to end his set.
Minutes later, the stage was taken yet again by the now all but famous man with a headband and hi-top, Super Duper Brick, who stepped to center stage wielding a red lightsaber looking mighty invincible. That was until the blue robe donning Super Duper Kyle emerged and proceeded to duel with Brick who’d quickly be throttled, lying on the floor until awakened by “The Force”, from Kyle’s latest album “Smyle”. Lights raise to reveal the Super Duper set of the night; a stage full of green Super Mario chimneys our childhoods knew so well and the 8-bit clouds that started the most legendary Mario Kart races. Only thing missing was Rainbow Road and the cousins that introduced you to the Nintendo franchise.
Kyle brought with him the zeal that he seems to channel from the video games of his childhood. He wears one hoop earring like Link, winds his arms like Mario, and breaks into footwork during his dance steps like Little Mac after a Super Smash victory. Along with Brick, Kyle brings a charisma to his music that’s amplified on the stage. Whether it’s the choreography that he’s updated to include dabs and other trending dance moves or it’s Kyle gesturing his fans to finish his lyrics before giving an animated look of approval like he did on this night, Kyle almost exclusively brings this type of illustration to a show.
After appearing in the red Ol’ Skool Vans that have come to define Kyle as have his on-stage antics, he spontaneously runs backstage, confusing the crowd. In a scripted fashion that camps our cartoon sequences of the 90s, Brick follows him, leaving the ripped drummer, Super Duper Cootie to go in over some mashups. The “Remember Me” artist now sports a Superman hockey jersey and red pants with flying-squirrel type flaps at the sides. Kyle and Brick continue giving the crowd all they have as they go into “Really!”. The teenagers in the audience scream “Yeah” back at the two like kids being asked if they want ice cream. Kyle ends his set with a Super Smash victory pose.
After a set transformation, the table was set for Hoodie Allen, the Happy Camper, alas. A dark room puts everyone on edge. “Hoodie” chants shriek throughout the Observatory. It hasn’t been this loud all night. With the stragglers finally all in, the venues a lot more packed than it was at doors. Hoodie steps out with a yellow bandanna tied around his face like a cowboy. Except this cowboy’s yellow rag wears a smile. When the bandanna is pulled down, Allen shows a smile that might be compared to Chip Skylark’s from the Fairly OddParents. Both reactions -those real-life and animated- are nothing short of pandemonium. The New York native hits the ground running, blazing anthem after anthem of the songs built for those kids in the audience going through that which Allen captures from his own teenage years. The immaturity is on full display when Allen requests his fog cannons be tested for a later part in the show. Instantaneously, the cannons spout when Allen's remarks “didn’t think they’d come that fast”
“That’s what she said,” he quickly follows leading way to chuckles throughout. The boyish charm is still on when Allen jumps to the center of the stage, joined by his band. Snapping into formation (No Beyonce), the trio throw down a make an unpolished 8-step. When that is over, Hoodie starts a voyage from the stage toward the back of the venue without notice. He ends up back by the soundbooth of the intimate venue on a perch. Selfie snaps from those in the back ensue as the show continues from off the stage. From nowhere a cake designed in the shape of a football appears in Hoodie’s hand before it’s launched to the front of the venue. Another cake, red this time, flies from the stage to the middle splattering on the back of an unsuspecting guy’s back. He doesn’t seem to care much. Another cake then flies from the balcony and the confusion couldn’t be more fun.
Back on stage, props would be the icing on the…. Props took the show to the next level. Before long, a raft is brought from backstage and set on top of waving hands in the pit. Hoodie plops on and rides the raft a couple feet before he’s toppled by the raging crowd. He fights his way back to the front where it was then time for the fog cannons to go live. They blasted cool air through the venue as new tracks from the “Happy Camper” album, which peaked at #1 on the Rap charts. With almost all the stops pulled out, Hoodie was aware of the one last thing all those in attendance wanted; “No Interruptions”. The song blasted off with white and yellow confetti from the pit. Hands moved up in down in virtual unison at this point and strobe lights flashed. Hoodie stands at the front of the stage as if a bow of a ship wearing a captain’s grin confident he owned the night.