Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past six months, or are one of the few people left who refuses to use social media, you’ve likely heard the name Hobo Johnson before. On March 7th of this year, Hobo Johnson, whose real name is Frank Lopes Jr., uploaded this video of him performing “Peach Scone” with the help of his backing band, The LoveMakers, for NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest.
Within a few weeks, the video had gone viral, racking up millions of views, and eventually led to his album The Rise of Hobo Johnson, originally released in 2017, reaching #11 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart.
Capitalizing almost immediately, Hobo Johnson and the LoveMakers started selling out venues across the country and announced their subsequent thirty-plus date “Bring Your Mom” tour back in August.
Now, coming fresh off their appearance on an actual episode of NPR’s Tiny Desk, that tour brought them to Minneapolis’s Varsity Theater on Thursday night, their first show in the Twin Cities, to perform for a sold-out crowd that was just as enthusiastic and energetic as Lopes.
Consisting of a unique fusion of alternative hip-hop and spoken word, watching Lopes half-rap/half-talk over a live band, who at times would stop playing completely, leaving Lopes to seemingly ramble through lines of his performance, was compelling and extremely intimate.
Combine that with Lopes’s energetic and borderline intense performance style, and you’re left with a spectacle that was impossible to look away from. Bouncing from one side of the stage to the other, inching closer and closer to the edge and into the crowd, while screaming his lyrics at the top of his lungs left everyone in awe.
While the tone of the show and the vibe of the audience were generally light and amusing, it was during the more emotional songs of the set such as “Romeo and Juliet” and “Mom & Dad” where Lopes’s voice rang throughout the venue, wavering ever so slightly, that sent a true message through everyone in attendance.
And of course, their performance of the very song that propelled them into pop culture phenomenon, “Peach Scone,” was totally captivating. There’s something about a room full of people screaming “I love the thought of being with you, or maybe it’s the thought of not BEING SO ALONE!” that makes you feel both vulnerable yet comfortable at the same time.
All in all, it was a wonderful debut performance from the Sacramento-based Hobo Johnson, who, judging by the intensity of the crowd and their multiple ovations, will be sure to return to the Twin Cities fairly soon.