Judah & The Lion Take On Palace

Forget Shooting For the Stars, ‘We’re Going to Mars’

JudahTheLion 20180223 web 20
JudahTheLion 20180223 web 20

Last updated on February 18th, 2022 at 10:02 pm

Judah & The Lion returned to the Twin Cities in full force this weekend for the tail end of their “Going to Mars” tour. Last time they passed through, this jaunty folk-rock band was in First Ave’s main room, but this time they found themselves at St. Paul’s Palace Theatre. Varsity, First Ave, now Palace… this Nashville quartet is making their rounds. But, this time, they graduated to headliner–accompanied by progressive-folk duo Tall Heights and fellow Nashville rock band Colony House.

Colony House’s lead singer, Caleb Chapman.

For those of you that knew Judah & The Lion back in the day, they started out as your typical, folk-rock group–banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar and all. But, in a matter of a couple years they’ve transformed their sound, creating a new “Folk Hop N Roll” genre of their own. Guitars jolted into overdrive, zippy synths, riveting drum machines–this crew has managed to blend hip-hop beats and rap solos with the folksy Mumford-esque, foot-stomping sound we know and love.

Singer/ cellist Paul Wright from Tall Heights jamming with Judah & The Lion’s banjo wiz, Nate Zuercher.

They’re best know for hit, “Take It All Back” first released off their 2016 LP “Folk Hop N’ Roll.” Then, in their 2017 Deluxe album, the track was refurbished and renamed “Take It All Back 2.0.” The banjo riffs and anthem-like vocals quickly propelled it to the top of the Alternative Song Charts.

Now, I was admittedly a “Spotify Top 5” Judah & The Lion kind of fan before Friday’s show. I knew the hits. Their music took me back to a windows-down, summer car ride blasting “Take It All Back,” belting out the chorus and playing my steering wheel like a bongo drum. But, after seeing them live, I walked out a crazed fan hopped up on their berserk, high-energy performance.

It was my first time in the pit at Palace. I was a nervous wreck as I clumsily followed the other non-chalant photographers like a lemming. “Uh, what settings do you have?” I asked. Then, a couple awkward minutes went by as we all stood there at the brim of a dimly-lit tungsten stage. Squirrelly with anticipation, the stage finally lit up and I was hit with a low vibrating bass.

“Now let me see that booty work, booty work, booty boo boo booty work/ Booty work, booty work, boo boo boo boo booty work…”

Well, safe to say, Judah had our attention. But, he only had the crowd shaking their asses off to his T-Pain cover for a one-minute stint.

What a tease.

Soon after, the crowd erupted into an echo of “whoaaaaaa ahh ah ahhhhhh’s” as we launched into his 2014 single “Twenty Something.” I took a second to stop and look at the crowd behind me, chanting in unison.

“Running scared/ Running free/ Full of light/ Got no money/ Yeah, that’s us/ Twenty-somethings”

Haha, how fitting. Naturally, he followed that one up with a little speech about how this live show was about sharing an experience, that we are all family. And, I believed him. Their words of unity stirred my twenty-something, hippie heart and reminded me why I love going to live shows.

“You hold on/ You’re holding on to what you can/ You hold on/ You’re holding on, but when you can’t/ You just let go/ And do your hippie dance”

Judah & The Lion had me dancing alright.

Maybe it was the crowd, the crazy light show, or maybe the motivational “you can do anything” monologues between songs, but as soon as Judah Akers pulled Colony House and Tall Heights back on stage for their cover of “Mr. Brightside” I was sold. Their stage presence is all-encompassing and, unlike other headliners, they jammed on and off with the openers as though they were all best buds that grew up together playing in Jude’s parents’ garage.

Both openers–Tall Heights and Colony House–join Judah & The Lion on stage for a cover of “Mr. Brightside.”

It is this in-person authenticity and lifting positivity that has allowed this independent band to build a following from the ground up.

As far as I can tell, this groovy, genre-bending crew is living out their pipe dream and they want you to dream with them. “Suit And Jacket,” a song for dreamers, was definitely another standout from their performance.

The single was released February of last year and was even accompanied by a special statement from Judah himself. He shared the same message with us that very night. I will leave you with his words:

“We cannot control the speediness of life, we cannot control the time we die, but we can control what we do with the time here. I don’t want to be a person just ‘surviving’ and getting through the day. I don’t want to be ‘roaming’ around. I WANT TO LIVE! I WANT TO LIVE!”

Live it up, my friends.



Written by Kathleen Ambre

Photographer | Designer | Writer | Chronic Creator


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