Hoodie Allen leaves Chicago full of happy campers

Hoodie Allen

People had been lined up for at least a day at the Riviera Theatre, sleeping in tents on the chilly streets of Chicago. Of course, those dedicated fans had the honor of meeting and getting a photo with Hoodie Allen for being the first people in line for his show that night. On the day of, I arrived at the venue not thinking much of what I was going to see, but what I saw surprised me: Even an hour after doors had opened, and with a half-hour left until the show was set to begin, there was a huge line wrapped around the block outside the Riviera waiting to see the Happy Camper Tour. I don’t really leave my comfort zone in terms of shows/genres, but I had heard great things about Hoodie Allen and his production, so I was excited to see what was to come.

As people piled in, I couldn’t help but notice the vast amount of very obviously underage concertgoers trying to use their fake IDs in an attempt to buy alcohol, which was hilarious and sad at the same time. Either way, they were trying to have a good time and as the show began, it became obvious that opener and Chicago native Taylor Bennett knew how to do just that. Twenty-year-old Bennett (who for a second I honestly mistook for his brother, Chance The Rapper—they look almost identical) was added to the show after support act Blackbear dropped off, and to my surprise, brought the energy to the room with a short 20-minute set. He’s been making a name for himself, especially with the release of his debut album, Broad Shoulders.

Next up was SuperDuperKyle. Again, I don’t know much about rap at all, but all I know was that the intro to this set and the routines that were part of it were probably the most entertaining of the night. Kyle and Brick used lightsabers, the body armor from Dragon Ball Z, Pikachu and a surfboard (so he literally crowdsurfed) during the set to complement the music, and it all strangely enough worked. It was fun to watch them, and their energy was infectious.

The room was the loudest it had been all night as Hoodie Allen took the stage at 9 p.m. to close out the night. He walked out onstage as his band played the intro with a bandana wrapped around his face, with the imagery from his newest release, Happy Camper, which was released in January. Behind him, the words “Happy Camper” lit up on LED screens. The quick pace of his songs had Allen jumping all around the stage all night, just barely taking a second to take it all in. When he did stop to watch everyone sing along, you could see him smiling and the connection then between him and the audience felt very genuine. In the midst of his 18-song set, he jumped on to an inflatable boat and had people push him around the general admission pit. He also ended up covering a little bit of Justin Bieber and “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. I had no idea what to expect coming into this show, but I was pleasantly surprised and had a great time.