With Judah & the Lion coming to the Grand Stafford in a few days, I wanted to take some time to write about my experience witnessing the band live a few years ago. Regarded as one of Nashville’s most genre bending bands, the folk-hop group is four releases deep into their promising career. Their debut album ‘Kids These Days’ brought the band it’s recognition, charting as high as number 4 on the Billboard Folk charts.
With the band’s second full-length album, ‘Folk Hop N Roll’, it is clear to see exactly where the members influences overlap. Frontman Judah Akers, along with drummer Spencer Cross, mandolin player Brian McDonald, and banjo wiz Nate Zuercher, have created a wide ranging sound, with fuzz bass, hip-hop percussion, distorted banjo riffs, and super sized melodies, all put together into one great album.
In the summer of 2014, I was working at a Christian Summer Camp called Laity Lodge Youth Camp as a camp counselor. The camp is set on the Frio River deep in the hill country of Texas, Southwest of San Antonio and Kerville. Before campers arrive, the staff spends a week getting trained and getting the chance to know each other. At the end of the week, the camp directors surprised the entire 350 member staff with a private concert in our pavilion on the camp grounds. That summer, they had scored Judah & the Lion for the show.
Prior to the concert, I had never heard of the band before, because they were just on the verge of their up and becoming breakthrough. Several of my friends on staff had heard of them and had a lot of good things to say about the band, with a lot of comparisons to Mumford and Sons, but more upbeat and faster paced. I had never gone into a concert before where I had no idea what the performer sounded like, didn’t know any of the songs, or really what to expect at all.
Let met tell you, I was blown away. Set against the backdrop of the river canyon wall, Judah & the Lion put on my favorite live performance I have ever seen. The concert was phenomenal, with an abundance of catchy songs that had me singing and dancing along after hearing the chorus only one time! Songs like ‘Kickin’ da Leaves’, and ‘Rich Kids’ proved to me just why the band was rising up the charts so fast.
What really sold me and made the experience one of kind was the band’s crowd interaction. At camp, one of the running jokes is to play Creed or Nickleback whenever the chance arises. The band had just performed a cover of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself” that sent the entire camp staff into a frenzy and awe. We began chanting for them to perform a Creed Cover or a Nickleback cover. Low and behold, they did, and Judah Akers, the lead singer, did a spot on replication of vocals to ‘With Arms Wide Open’ and ‘Photograph’. Those performances blew the roof off of the pavilion and sent the entire staff and I into a state of pure hype and joy. This all culminated into a rap battle with one of the camp counselors and the band.
It’s safe to say that no other concert experience I can ever have will come even close to the craziness and spontaneity that Judah and the Lion exuded that night. I know I can’t wait to experience the band perform at the Stafford in a few days, and you can be sure to find me front and center enjoying what is sure to be a fantastic show.
Judah & the Lion is set to take the Stafford stage live, on November 3rd. Tickets are still on sale for $15 in advance and $17 at the door. The doors open at 8:00pm and the music starts at 9:00pm. Special meet and greet options as well as early entrant and an acoustic performance pre-show options are available here.
We’ll see y’all there!