Judah and the Lion rock sold out Delmar Hall

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Judah and the Lion rock sold out Delmar Hall

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Judah and the Lion will soon be entirely too large for Delmar Hall’s 800-person capacity. They demonstrated this time and time again throughout their show last Friday night, and everyone in the crowd seemed to know they had witnessed something special. The show, which had sold out weeks before, mixed the intimacy of a club show with the soaring sounds of Judah’s arena-ready “folk-hop and roll” sound.

Seeing fans lined up well before the opening of doors was a parallel to another artist that Judah just finished touring with, Twenty One Pilots. Pilots, who have blown up to one of music’s largest acts in the past two years, had Judah as an opener on the winter leg of their “Emotional Roadshow” tour.

According to mandolin player Brian Macdonald, the tour was an opportunity to introduce new fans to their music. “We were just really grateful for their fans being so receptive to us, showing up early and taking the time to get to know us. Twenty One Pilots has such loyal fans, and it was a huge win for us to get the opportunity to be in front of them. We had such a fun time,” he said.

It was evident that they did not squander the short time given to openers; many people in the crowd Friday night sported Twenty One Pilots shirts and hats, telltale signs that Judah had converted them to fans while on the road with Pilots.

And how could they not? Judah are similar to Pilots in the fact that they defy all genres and labels. One song might be a folk ballad to a loved one, while the next features lead singer Judah Akers rapping as fast as can be. The fascinating realization is just how masterfully the band commands each of these genres. Before they displayed this mastering of many genres, however, the stage was taken by Wilderado.

A rock band from Los Angeles, Wilderado did not throw away the opportunity to impress a sold-out room. With their 30-minute set, the band ripped through some tracks that walked the line between hard-indie rock and emo. Reminiscent of Kevin Devine and Brand New, but with a lighter sensibility to them, they instantly charmed the crowd.

The ability to switch between extended outros with hard-rocking and beautiful harmonies in the middle of a song was incredibly impressive, and Wilderado made it look easy. Their set came and went, setting the stage for the main act of Judah.

As the second playing of Hans’ track came to a close, the gentlemen of Judah took the stage, to uproarious applause. Set opener “Suit and Jacket” immediately had the crowd screaming along to every word. Its pulsing mandolin and thumping bass drum was reminiscent of Mumford and Sons’ robust sound.

From there on out, the show was a 90-minute lesson on how to masterfully construct a set, with ebbs, flows and surprises galore. Their usage of unconventional instruments in rock, such as the mandolin and banjo, played to their advantage. Every solo from these instruments received an absurd reaction from the crowd. A concertgoer even commented to me during one of these solos that he had “never seen a banjo use a distortion pedal before, but I love it.”

Their tracks had immense power with the crowd. Dance parties broke out during “Kickin’ da Leaves” and a cover of “Mr. Brightside,” while somber, intimate moments took over during softer tracks such as “Our Love.” The crowd and band seemed to mesh, becoming a family.

Judah even wandered out into the crowd at one point, solidifying this connection between the two. During the bridge of “Going to Mars,” he disappeared and quickly reappeared in the middle of the crowd, standing on a ledge.

Donning a space helmet, he took another page from the Twenty One Pilots’ book and finished the song from the ledge, with an energy that bordered on frenetic. Fans ate up the act, seeing that there was not even a physical barrier between band and crowd.

This idea of the show as a type of family is something touched on by lead singer Judah during the show on multiple occasions. He stated in between songs that, “When we go to a show we always want to leave with a feeling. Our shows bring all sorts of people together, and now we’re a big family here on this Friday night.”

The familial vibes were definitely felt by everyone inside of Delmar Hall on Friday evening. No matter how large Judah and the Lion get, it is always refreshing to see a band that will most definitely put their love of music and fans first, which is exactly what they do.

Hopefully their next headlining appearance in St. Louis will be with an even bigger “family,” be it at The Pageant, or maybe even Chaifetz.