A roaring good time: Judah & the Lion headlines 2017 Baylor Traditions Rally

Judah & the Lion frontman Judah Akers performs at the Baylor Traditions Rally on Friday, Sept. 1 at Fountain Mall. Will Barksdale | Multimedia Journalist

By Cassidy Pate | Reporter

Baylor and Waco communities gathered together to see music group Judah & the Lion following the Baylor University Traditions Rally on Friday, Sept. 1 at Fountain Mall.

Eager Baylor students, esteemed alumnae and dedicated Judah & the Lion fans covered the better half of Fountain Mall’s grass area to welcome the band.

Starting off the night with their upbeat “Suit and Jacket,” the four leading men of Judah & the Lion were quick to grab the attention of the audience.

Nashville’s Judah & the Lion do not limit themselves to one music genre. Their blend of Americana, folk, alternative rock, bluegrass and rock styles was well received by those in attendance.

With Friday marking the eighth time the group has played at Baylor, front man Judah Akers let the audience know that from Waco Hall to Common Grounds they are not strangers to the green and gold.

“I gotta say, it feels pretty good to be in Waco,” Akers said.

After the first song, the band paused for a moment to address the crowd.

“We’re gonna give you guys everything we have for the next hour and a half, okay?” Akers said.

The band, composed of Akers, Spencer Cross, drummer, Brian Macdonald, mandolin, and Nate Zuercher, banjo, reminded the crowd of this promise throughout the show with their enthusiasm and frequent jumps in the air.

With the audience’s knees bouncing and heads bobbing, the band switched back and forth between original songs and covers of well-known hits, such as “Booty Wurk,” by T-Pain and “Mr. Brightside,” by music group The Killers.

In addition to playing covers of other artists, the band was able to keep the attention of the crowd. This was beneficial, for fan interaction played a large role in their production. Instructions to put their hands in the air and take part in the concert also a gave way for fans to be part the act.

Waco sophomore, Alex Waitley, is one of those fans.

“Well, I’ve seen them twice in concert and just their entire stage presence is just electric and even if you don’t know the songs you’re banging your head, you’re jumpin’ around,” Alex Waitley said. “It is so much fun.”

Getting attention from fans is common for Judah & the Lion, for they took their band’s musical career in their own hands, in their own time and began touring on their own terms rather than meeting with record labels.

Judah & the Lion’s two full-length albums, Kids These Days released in 2014 and Folk Hop N’ Roll in 2017, showcase the unique combinations of sound the band is known for and Baylor got a glimpse of that Friday.

“The name of that record pretty much says it all: Rather than stowing their banjos and mandolins completely, the group incorporated drum machines, overdriven guitars and laser-like synths [synthesizers] to create a hybrid unlike anything else going,” Rolling Stone magazine said.

As the band continued to play, their style of music became prevalent and, as Waitley said it would be: “electric.”

Closing the show with one of their more popular songs, “Take It All Back,” made the atmosphere’s volume louder than it was in the beginning.

“I really do like ‘Take It All Back,’” Waitley said, as many devout fans would agree.

The concert’s official ending included a two-minute dance party, confetti and flashing lights from the stage, but the audience, not ready to say goodnight, made sure to chant for an encore.

Once, he and the rest of the lions had walked back onstage for the encore, Akers said, “It feels great to be accepted and loved by Waco.”

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