Outside Lands 2019 was one for the books. We were floored by the range in music selection, incredible designs and collaborations with the festival, the updated Grasslands area, and, of course, some of our favorite performers back on stage to enjoy. Not only did Judah & The Lion perform in Kansas City on Saturday night, but they booked it to San Francisco on Sunday to play on the main stage to a giant crowd mid-day. THAT’S dedication. We love them, infinity, every time.
Judah & the Lion…what can I say? They are a band that I have seen multiple times, and that I will probably continue to see. My first encounter, admittedly, was a personal tour with the guys around the Kansas City Zoo as they were just gaining traction with “Take It All Back”, and they were such a joy to speak with and to capture (with the lions, no less!). They put on such an undeniably powerful, upbeat, and fun show, and consistently! Everywhere from a packed old theater to an intimate set in a bar, they know how to make you FEEL with their lyrics AND music.
Th latest venue when they passed through Kansas City on August 10th? The gorgeous outdoor stage at Starlight Theater. (Yup. Home to bats and big ass fans.) Aside from the wicked humidity that evening, I think it was my favorite show from them yet, which is a tall order! It truly felt like I was invited to a party as one of the band’s closest friends as I witnessed their talent beneath the summertime sky.
Prior to releasing their album Pep Talks in May, I don’t think I would have felt like they were speaking directly to me. But the lyrics are made up of stories that are trauma-informed and emotional, like the band has cracked themselves open to being completely honest and transparent to anyone that will listen. Their Nashville-infused folk-pop mixed with some clearly Blink 182-style beats – well informed influence, as they’ve been covering a Blink favorite on this tour – this whole concert felt like a nod to early 2000s teen flick house parties (you know, with the live punk band playing in the backyard by the pool a la “Scotty Doesn’t Know”?).
Judah and The Lion’s energy is undeniable. The dropping of a curtain makes me want to listen more. And share more and connect more with other humans. And it had a greater impact on me as I listened Saturday night.
They opened with “Pep Talk” (the first song on their new album of the same name) as the last glow of the evening sun disappeared over the horizon and brought the heat as the weather cooled (to a chill 76 degrees). They played their entire new album and mixed in some fan favorites along the way – including a Blink 182 cover! And, even though I love the new stuff, my ears perked up and my tail started wagging when “Suit and Jacket” started up a few songs in.
They sing. They dance. They play the banjo. They tell enveloping stories while running around the stage and tiring you out just watching them. But, most of all, they inspire you to live in the moment, dance like no one is watching, and remind you that you are never alone.
I attended the Judah & the Lion concert by myself on Saturday night. But, as I walked to my car during the encore of “Take It All Back”, I realized I was really in my own backyard, connecting through song and movement with 5,000 of mine and the band’s closest friends.
Kansas City setlist:
1. Pep Talk
2. Quarter-Life Crisis
3. Over My Head
4. i’m ok.
6. Suit and Jacket
8. All the Small Things (blink‐182 cover)
9. Queen Songs / human.
10. Don’t Mess With My Mama
13. Going to Mars
15. Rich Kids
16. Dance With Ya
18. Family / Best Is Yet to Come
20. Alright (frick it!)
21. Why Did You Run?
22. Take It All Back
Goosebumps. The immediate sensation one gets when listening to the intro to Judah and the Lion‘s new album Pep Talks. The aptly named Pep Talks gives the listener a metaphorical punch in the mouth with numerous vocal buildups, booming horns, and a steady building guitar. This is the band’s third album, and it does not disappoint from start to finish.
Big band feels with heartfelt lyrics is how this listener likes to describe Pep Talks. 17 tracks long, Pep Talks boasts features from Kacey Musgraves and Jon Bellion, but the majority of the focus is on Judah and the Lion’s ability to captivate audiences with their pop-alternative style. The constant presence of the variety of strings, and the pounding of drums, just make you want to move. Even as I write this at my desk, my head is consistently bobbing, and my feet are thumping with every single beat. Emotionally stirring, Pep Talks is raw in every sense of the word, putting on display every single talent that Judah and the Lion possesses.
The release of Pep Talks signals the announcement of a worldwide tour from Judah and the Lion. With festival stomps throughout, the band will be touring from May until November. Without a doubt, the songs on this album will be triumphs live, all of them have a live feel even when you are streaming them through a computer. I for one cannot wait to witness Pep Talks live, and I can only hope that Judah and the Lion incorporate the intro track “Pep Talk” into the performance. It gets me amped just thinking about it.
You can keep up with Judah and the Lion on their socials and their website judahandthelion.com.
When you think you’ve read all the end of year lists you can take, we’re still stringing our (very important) short ones out, to make sure there’s plenty of new music discovery at your fingertips throughout the month! 2018 was a year of insane amounts of music coverage, a bevy of incredible artists to choose from, and a really incredible list of new faces to dive into. While we don’t keep track of new artists vs. veterans, we would like to highlight some of our favorite vocalists of the moment with you. Trust us — this was a really hard decision process, which is why it took us a little longer to get it to post. We wanted to highlight people that both entertain like the most insane, and who we believe truly deserve the spotlight for it as well. You might not agree, but this may lead you on a tangent of music discovery, and we’re all for that. Without further ado, check out our Top 7 Male Vocalists of 2018 below!
by meredith schneider
Holy White Hounds is a group of guys we have been following for a while. Hailing from Des Moines, IA, the foursome emerges more triumphant and in-your-face with each new track, paving the way for their most recent full-length release – Say It With Your Mouth – which will make its debut on December 22nd. And don’t let their gritty attitudes and rough exterior fool you. Ambrose, Brent, James, and Seth are full of heart, a force in motion when they’re together, and really know how to relate to their audience. (While also making fun of them. But it’s charming, and we’re totally into it.) That, coupled with those edgy vocals, and we’ve got a rock band that just won’t quit! (Thankfully. Please don’t? We need you.)
We may have been a little late to the game on this one, but pop/r&b singer/songwriter Dermot Kennedy is the Dubliner of everyone’s dreams. We were wandering SXSW this year when our friends at PlaylistPlay coerced us into popping into a church to listen to one of their favorite musicians. Honestly, we can’t think of a better way to first experience the insanely beautiful vocals Kennedy provides. His soundscapes are freeing, intense and wonderful in their disposition. If you don’t trust us, take a listen to his debut EP Doves & Ravens, or his most recent single “Power Over Me”, which was released in October.
by meredith schneider
Atlanta, Georgia-based Algiers absolutely astonished us at Sasquatch Music Festival this year. Lead singer Franklin James Fisher approached the stage with a Jimi Hendrix flare, and vocals that just do not quit. There is an enticing, soulful energy to their sound, with just a hint of reverb and incredible vintage influence that keeps us coming back for more. We can’t wait to hear their follow-up to 2017’s The Underside of Power, but are totally keen on waiting patiently for their next stunner full-length.
You’ve heard of him. We’re not introducing this powerhouse to anyone, and we feel pretty darn good about that fact. Childish Gambino – aka the triple threat of everyone’s dreams – hits our list this year, if not only for his wildly eye-opening video for “This Is America“. We’ve been super into all of his work over the years, and our hearts swoon with each new line he spins, opening our eyes to an array of important – and often overlooked – issues. The man is an absolute enigma, and perhaps that’s what keeps us coming back for more time and time again.
by meredith schneider
We know we’ve harped on how incredible Judah & The Lion is, and now is not the time to stop. On December 12th, the (now) trio – who is joined by a rotating cast of instrumentalists and backup vocalists for their performances – released two singles, titled “Pep Talk” and “Quarter-Life Crisis”, landing themselves back on our radar. Check it out, and then dive into their catalogue if you haven’t already. Their music will throw you into that good mood you’ve been craving.
Lionman – who we first experienced in May when he released the visual for his single “Don’t You Dare”. His vocals are directly associated with the term “smooth as honey”, and we’re drawn in from the first line. His hair is absolutely divine, His latest single “In My Letter” has a softer sound to it, and a rhythm that reminds us of some of our favorite OG Usher songs. This artist is definitely one to watch.
If you’re into soulful, robust vocals that establish a mood, and somehow manage to get everyone in their vicinity to “feel the same way,” then Michael Kight is the way to go. In May, we had some thoughts on his track “Clear“, and still maintain that he was impressive on every level of musicianship. We count him as one of our favorite discoveries of the year, and look forward to more from him in the future!
We’ve been captivated by Wilderado‘s energy since we first saw them open for Judah & The Lion over a year ago. Last weekend, we experienced them in a different light – quite literally – during a day set during Sasquatch! Music Festival 2018 Day 2. Shortly after, we met up with them to take a few portraits on the lawn. And it got fun. So here are most of those photos.
On Saturday, February 24th, Judah & The Lion made a notable, sold out appearance at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City. The theater was packed from wall to wall, with people standing behind pillars just to be able to hear the entire set while catching a glimpse every once in a while. It was the most packed we have ever witnessed that venue.
This playlist is for those of you who are totally feelin’ it. Whether you’re in a relationship, happily single, celebrating with your closest friends, or otherwise, today is a day to CELEBRATE LOVE AROUND THE WORLD! So check out our new playlist featuring some of your favs, and check back all day for more additions to it!