Hobo Johnson & The LoveMakers take on the Iowa City bar scene

Poetry, Funk, Folk and Rap rolled into one — Hobo Johnson & The LoveMakers played Gabe’s last night, giving a high-energy performance that had fans wired.


Cecilia Shearon

Lead singer Frank Lopes Jr. douses himself in water to cool himself during a Hobo Johnson concert at Gabe’s in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 14 2021. Hobo Johnson has been touring their newest record, “Hobo Johnson Alienates His Fanbase,” which was released on Aug. 1, 2021. (Cecilia Shearon/The Daily Iowan)

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

Yesterday’s Hobo Johnson & The LoveMakers concert drew in a line of fans that could be seen halfway up Washington Street by 5:30 p.m. With a collection of poetry, funk, folk and rap music, Hobo Johnson has a style like no one else’s – and the energy could be felt even before entering the venue.

About an hour before the performance was set to begin, most of the crowd had filtered into the upstairs area of Gabe’s. To pass the time, excited fans began to introduce themselves and befriend each other.

Brittany Degunia, a particularly dedicated fan, had been waiting in lines for three hours, and was more than happy to socialize with fellow Hobo Johnson fans. She said the artists’ music has helped her through a lot.

“I’m so excited,” said Degunia. “I’ve been waiting to see Hobo Johnson for three years.”

When 7 p.m. rolled around, fans eagerly welcomed Hobo Johnson’s first opener, Silk Animus, a rapper from Sacramento, California.

Silk Animus’ music was melancholy and sorrowful, with a clear connection to his personal experience. That being said, the crowd still related to the music, picking out lyrics that made them cheer in agreement.

Regardless of his music being on the sad side, Silk Animus still kept the concert mood high, constantly engaging and interacting with the audience. At one point, he even let a front-row fan steal a sip from his water bottle.

Following Silk Animus came Nat Lefkoff, the second concert opener. While also dealing with some heavy topics, Lefkoff played acoustically on his guitar, giving off a more folk feel.

Lefkoff had a powerful voice that got the crowd excited at every high note. His music was the kind that you don’t have to know word-for-word in order to have fun listening to, his musicality and lyricism were entertainment enough.

Both Silk Animus and Nat Leftkoff expressed excitement to get to play Iowa City, and even further, a “Hobo Johnson crowd.” Silk Animus also said that college towns are fun to play, even if they can be a bit intimidating.

“College towns – it’s a bunch of attractive people walking with backpacks to class,” Silk Animus told the crowd.

The brief period of time between the opening acts and Hobo Johnson’s performance is when tension really built throughout the audience. A few rounds of impatient chanting and some of the Lovemakers and Gabe’s employees prepping the stage, and the time finally came.

The band opened with the song “Typical Story,” immediately propelling into a high-energy performance. Lovermakers danced around each other and their instruments while frontman Hobo Johnson (also known as Frank Lopes Jr.) stood as close as possible to the edge of the stage without falling off.

As if this wasn’t high-intensity already, Hobo Johnson sprayed full bottles of water onto the crowd at least five times within the first three songs. Not a single time throughout the whole show did the smile fade from the rapper’s face.

Towards the beginning of the performance, Hobo Johnson asked if an overhead light could be turned on towards the back of the crowd, so he could see more people.

“I know, you’re like why does he want this Walmart light on?” Hobo Johnson said. “But honestly, I like looking at people’s eyes.”

The band ended their set with the song that popularized them, “Peach Scone.” Or at least they had planned to, until fans called him back onto the Gabe’s stage for an encore.

In the final moments of the concert, UI graduate student Sarah Martin was invited on stage, where she played Oasis’ “Wonderwall” on a borrowed guitar for Hobo Johnson and the audience to sing their way out to.