Hippo Campus Plays Mr. Smalls; ‘The Hard Problem’ Continues at Quantum Theatre (Wed., 11/15/17)

1) If you missed Hippo Campus’s landmark performance at the last Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, check them out at Mr. Smalls. The quartet’s music combines Animal Collective-esque harmonies with Vampire Weekend’s world-music rhythms. What’s even more impressive is how fully formed the group sounds despite the members’ youth—all four of them just clear the drinking age. (Of course, they had two EPs, 2014’s Bashful Creatures and 2015’s South, to realize their sound.) The Animal Collective parallels are sure to persist, for like their noise-rock forebears, all the members perform under eccentric stage names: Turntan, Stitches, Espo, and Beans. They met at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a high school in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their latest EP, warm glow, is out now, fresh off the heels of their debut LP, this year’s Landmark. Remo Drive opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

From left, Nathan Stocker, Jake Luppen, Whistler Allen, and Zach Sutton generating great rock energy.

From left, Nathan Stocker, Jake Luppen, Whistler Allen, and Zach Sutton generating great rock energy. Photo: Christopher Maggio.

1) Just when a lot of folks thought Tom Stoppard was done with playwriting, after a long and illustrious career of turning out plays that combine philosophical wit with serious issue-wrangling—his 1966 gem, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, keeps rising from the dead in periodic revivals—and after side ventures into screenwriting, too (Terry Gilliam’s Brazil; Shakespeare in Love)—Stoppard, at age 77, came out with a new play. The Hard Problem is about one of the so-called hard problems in science: explaining the nature and origin of consciousness. The action revolves around a fictional brain institute where characters debate how humans acquired the mysterious ability to not only sense and react to the world, but also think, imagine, love or hate it, etc. The Hard Problem premiered in London in 2015 to mixed reactions, with some calling it vintage Stoppard while others felt it was short of a full bottle. We’ll see what kind of kick it delivers in the Quantum Theatre production. 8 p.m. Performances through November 19. Energy Innovation Center, 1435 Bedford Ave., Uptown. (MV)