Judah + The Lion bring the energy to World Cafe Live

Judah + the Lion | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com
Judah + the Lion | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

On Wednesday night, Judah + The Lion turned World Cafe Live into the Electric Factory.


World Café Live, while being the venue I most quickly call home, has become a slight infamous for me; for every high energy show that I’ve seen I’ve seen two with little to none. Prior to seeing Judah + The Lion rip it up at World Café, I hadn’t seen a show comparably high-fenergy since I saw Blackalicious light up that same stage almost three years prior (in one of the first concerts I ever photographed).

I knew I was in for some incredible antics going in; I had heard tell of Judah + The Lion’s stage presence before, but I was not prepared for what I was about to witness. Upon arriving at the lip of the stage, I saw that the roadies put out a setlist, that, at first glance, looked like total nonsense (attached below). I had thought that this was just going to be a normal indie-folk show, to the tune of a Head & The Heart show, but after seeing songs like “Banksy Luther King Jr”, “!!!!!!!!!!!”, and “He Peed Ants” on the setlist, I knew a few more absurdities would have to follow.

Judah + the Lion | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | <a href=http://cameronpollackphotography.com target="_blank">cameronpollackphotography.com</a>
Judah + the Lion | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

The show – much like Folk Hop N’ Roll, the album J+TL are currently supporting – took a predominantly folky tone but also derive considerable influence from hip hop and rock n’ roll; banjos and mandolins were played concurrently with auto-tuned vocals and 808 drum machines. Prior to their (correctly titled) song “Revolution”, the band started with a cover of the timeless T-Pain anthem “Booty Wurk”, which featured five members of the band twerking in line, creating huge laughs from the crowd. The ballad “Better Man”, which Judah and his merry men used for the first song of the encore, relied heavily on auto-tuned vocals and vocoder chorus. “Take It All Back”, the final song of the main set, was rife with tropes typically associated with aughties rock bands like The Killers.

While J+TL pulled off all the stylistic changes they elected to make, they still clearly seem most comfortable in their Folk personas, nailing songs like “Kickin’ Da Leaves”, “Twenty-Somethings” and “Mason Dixon Line”.

Opening up the show that evening was The Saint Johns, a Nashville folk trio that combines the warm harmonies of groups like Of Monsters And Men and The Head and the Heart with the musical stylings of groups like Bon Iver and Amateur Love.

Setlist, Verbatim
Foal Cops Hound
He Peed Ants
Season’s Colors
Bill Nye
Below, Behind
All I Want Is Drew
Banksy Luther King Jr Belly Button On The Floor !!!!!!!!!!
Dinah’s Myth$$$$$$$$$
Better Man
The Water




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