MusicThe Appraisal

HOKO and Ripe: Two New Groups, Two New Sounds, and Two New Stars

Article by Nick Jepson

The bands HOKO and Ripe are two new names in the music scene. In 2020, best friends Nathaniel Hoho (lead singer) and Jesse Kotansky (guitarist) came together to form “HOKO.” They saw immediate growth as they paved their own path through the early stages of the 2020s. Their hit songs “Hello Goodbye,” featured on EA Sports’ NHL 21, and “OK OK,” have skyrocketed HOKO into the spotlight. They’ve also performed at festivals such as Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. Their sound consists of several different styles aligned into a beautiful, psychedelic rock/pop/alternative audibility that has no singular label to place. Ripe, on the other hand, combines funky trumpet with classic rock, allowing anyone and everyone to bust a move during any of their songs. Ripe grew quickly, seeing over 65 million streams on Spotify, before releasing their album “Bright Blues” in March of this year. The duo of the two bands back-to-back was a show not worth missing, and proceeded to bring the house down at Middle Ages Brewing in Syracuse.

HOKO came out with force to get the show rolling. Lead singer Nathaniel Hoho had unmatched energy throughout their whole set, walking through the crowd and climbing into the rafters. Their unique sound echoed the room and provided a new vibe that had been relatively undiscovered before. Guitarist Jesse Kotansky even hopped on the violin and seduced the crowd with beautiful articulation. The build-ups contained in their songs changed the entire feeling behind the music, as no one knew what would come next. It provided for a thicker plot behind the music and a wave of intrigue sprouting throughout the crowd. Their reckless energy and flashing lights, combined with this special sound, fueled everyone in the building to get wild for a good half an hour. 

After a long wait and the crowd chanting “We want Ripe!”, the band took center stage. The crowd was filled with drunken devotion for the entirety of their 18-song set, which consisted of their hits “Settling,” “All or Nothing,” and their opener, “Get Over.” They also put their own funky spin on “Lola” by The Kinks and “Another Brick in The Wall Pt. 2” by Pink Floyd. Their consistent energy rocked the crowd for the full hour-and-a-half performance. Ripe’s stage presence bestowed positive energy and flat-out fun, as they constantly involved the crowd for each song. Lead singer Robbie Wulfsohn paraded the stage and gave everything he had, while giving his bandmates every ounce of credit they deserved. Everything about Ripe’s performance showed a bond between each of them that can not quite be seen with the naked eye. That same connection stemmed into the crowd as well. Not a single soul in the upper level of Middle Ages Brewing was not moving and shaking, as the music protruded through every crevice of your body and left you dancing. Even I, being as professional as I could, couldn’t help but jam out while Ripe grabbed the sold-out crowd by force and shook out every move they had in them. 

I couldn’t help noticing the energy as everyone left the building. There was a hint of melancholy because the night had concluded, but the faces of people as they headed to their cars or called their Uber were quite content. HOKO and Ripe provided all of us at Middle Ages Brewing a night of rocking out, busting a move, and most importantly, having a great time. The two have incredible style and energy, a new and interesting sound, mixing with each of their growing success. This truly categorizes these two budding bands as rising stars in the coming years. HOKO and Ripe are set to finish their east coast tour this weekend in Port Chester, NY, Wantagh, NY, and Hamden, CT.

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