Following the extensive tour of the newly adorned and renovated Rialto Theater in Bozeman, MT, my excitement for the evening’s show could not have been any more real. Not only is The Rialto a space for bringing music, theater and dance to an audience, it is a space for fine cocktails, delicious food, incredible art and so on! The excitement about what The Rialto has to offer to Bozeman was tangible at the media tour the afternoon of the debut show. They took us into each space of the multi-level theater: the cocktail lounge upstairs (The Burnbox), the gallery space across the way lit with a giant skylight (The Lightbox) and the theater space below which includes a mezzanine and floor level, each with their own bar. Keep in mind that though I have given each of these spaces a standard name/purpose, they can each be individualized for your use whether it is a dinner party, reception, art show or DJ dance party. If you can dream up a use for the space, they can provide.
From left to right (bar in The Burnbox, gallery spaced called The Lightbox, standing area for guests, view from the mezzanine and a sample of the light show, view from The Burnbox).
With a taste of all that the space had to offer, I was itching to see a band on the stage and hear more than the recording of Hippo Campus’ single, “Way it Goes”, that they played during the tour to let us sample the state-of-the-art sound system. The sound at The Rialto is more than just a “sound system.” It took an entire team of architects, sound engineers and others to create the most ideal space for sound to be captured and shared with each individual in every corner of the theater.
And finally the night I was waiting for arrived. Eager young Hippo Campus fans lined up in the freezing cold, without jackets (crazy high schoolers!), waiting for the doors to open at 7pm. In the line among the younger folks was a smattering of under 18 year olds and some representatives of each decade from 20-60 years old. It was a true ‘all ages’ show and it was a blast. The majority of the concert-goers (from my view point) were between the ages of 16 and 19, and they knew every word to every Hippo Campus song. Although all of us in the crowd could not sing along, every BODY was dancing, every FACE was smiling and everyone was having a good time. Furthermore, the lighting was above and beyond, giving everyone there the ultimate concert experience. I had been “studying” (defined as listening to as much of a musicians music as I can before a show so I know and recognize as many songs as possible) Hippo Campus a bit preceding the show but was not prepared to have my mind blown by the lead singer’s velvet voice and incredible range, the band’s tight vocal harmonies, the exuberant trumpet player and their overall energy as a band. They sound great recorded but phenomenal live. And, they were clearly having a blast, too.
I haven’t been to a show of this caliber since Alt J back in 2012 at The Neptune in Seattle, or Strand of Oaks at The Bartlett in Spokane in 2017 and now more recently, shows in Missoula at The Top Hat and The Wilma. The Rialto is giving those venues a run for their money and a fabulous reason for bands of all kinds to stop and play in Bozeman. Now we have a cultural hub for everyone in Bozeman to enjoy. My ears and my heart could not be any happier and I know I’m not alone.
To learn more about The Rialto and guarantee you won’t miss any of your favorite acts or events, you can follow them on all the usual social media platforms. You can find all the social media links for Hippo Campus on their official website.