Tall Heights :
The first of Judah & the Lion’s two-night sold-out stint at the Georgia Theatre in Athens, GA, started strong and ended with a bang. The “folk hop n’ roller’s” constructed a show as equally meaningful as it was exciting, and easily kept fans on their toes for the entirety of the night.
The show opened with Tall Heights, an electrofolk duo out of Boston, MA. At this point, the theatre was already quite full and the musicians played to that pressure well. While they crooned, they found incredibly interesting ways to engage the audience—at one point pulling off one of the coolest in-show magic tricks I’ve ever seen. The group asked the entire audience to pull out their various phones, to call another in the room, and then put the call on speaker. These calls echoed throughout the theatre and really brought the performance to another level.
Next up was Colony House, a group out of Nashville, TN. These modern-day Beach Boy rockers had a strong following in the audience and definitely played to that strength. The group was upbeat, incredibly high energy, and carried the confidence of experience. Though considerably louder (think: drums-shaking-ribcage-loud) the band managed to keep a clean sound to show off their technical prowess.
Both openers were met with really strong reactions from the crowd. Then there was Judah. The crowd erupted.
Understandably so, as the Nashville-based headliners opened the set with a dance-party rendition of “Booty Wurk (One Cheek At a Time).” The group held this vivacity through the entirety of the set, intertwining hip hop and folk seamlessly throughout.
The band played much of it’s Folk Hop N’ Roll album, out in 2017. However, the show was far from the average, sit-and-watch-for-two-hours, set. Just as the bands that preceded, Judah & the Lion kept the show interactive.
With moments like a dance-off during the song “Reputation,” a surprise cover of “Mr. Brightside” featuring all three bands, and the crowd singing competition during “Green Eyes”—which later determined which side of the stage members would dive off of—the band kept the show accessible and genuinely fun. Just a really good time. The crowd continuously had no clue what was coming next, but surely it was going to be great.
Through the fun, there was some sentimental, deeper-meaning to the show. Frontman Judah Akers told the story of the bands first show outside of Nashville, which happened to be at a smaller venue in the Athens area. The show seemed to carry a lot of meaning for the group, as Akers grew a bit emotional before launching into the inspirational “Going to Mars.”
The show “ended” with a two-minute dance party during one of the band’s biggest hits, “Take It All Back,” before an encore was demanded. Once again, they brought out the other two bands for an incredibly sweet, stripped down rendition of “Lean on Me,” before ending the set with “Water,” a track from the bands 2014 album Kids These Days. I’m fairly certain that the general sentiment of the crowd was of a “One more song!” mentality, but with a band like Judah & the Lion that certainly doesn’t come as a surprise.