Written by Ariana Assaf
All photos courtesy of Michael Paredes of Drastic
Let me tell you about my favorite hippies. Hippie Sabotage, aka brothers Jeff and Kevin of Sacramento, CA, started making music together around 2000, and it’s been one hell of a ride ever since. A noticeable increase in exposure can be traced to Ellie Goulding’s public support of their “Stay High” remix in 2014, but there’s no way what I saw last week would be possible with just a celebrity endorsement.
As part of their current tour around the country, Hippie Sabotage stopped at The Magic Bag in Detroit last week, and I find myself compelled to describe the experience as magically raucous. Whether blasting their cathartic “They Stole My Face and You’d Never Know It”—inspired by a record label contract gone wrong—or moving into a thumping rendition of Elliot Moss’ melodic “Slip”, Hippie Sabotage maintains high emotional energy in their music that, regardless of where it falls on the spectrum of happy to sad, is shared with the audience without stopping the party.
With a winning combination of great music and artistic hardship, Hippie Sabotage is creating a live experience that lends itself to a growing following with specific expectations that continue to be met. Watching the crowd, it’s easy to tell that a big part of those expectations involve having the opportunity to let loose and feel validated in doing so. It’s why people fought at the chance to hold Kevin’s hand or grab his shirt, why we all screamed together at that shitty label who stole their face and swayed together to the beat of slip, slip, slip throooough, and probably why Jeff looked so spent when singing along to “Waiting Too Long.”
Written during a time in which they were prevented from performing, the song eloquently captures feelings of frustration and sorrow. Who knows how they felt about it then (if I ever get to talk to them and find out you all will be the first to know), but it’s nice to imagine that in light of recent success, the song tells the story of overcoming obstacles more so than being stuck in a rut—whether professional, personal, or otherwise situational. It’s also a testament to their stylistic range.
Hippie Sabotage’s live show crosses playfully over the dividing lines of genre, moving through fast, aggressive sounds into a sort of minimalistic deep trap and all the way to the chillectronic, meditative tones of a track like “OM” from their most recent album. “Providence” has been making ears everywhere perk up since being release last month, and it offers an interestingly laid back style compared what I heard at The Magic Bag. Take a listen, and when you decide you want to party with these two, you can catch them on one of their twelve remaining show dates.