Johnson City Concerts

Judah & the Lion @ ETSU

After so many years of concert-going and quite a bit of concert writing under my belt, I finally covered a show as an official pass-bearing member of the media. 

As featured in the East Tennessean:

Judah & the Lion’s genre-bending fusion of folk and hip-hop, or “Folk Hop N’ Roll” as their album is titled, rocked ETSU’s Mini-Dome Sunday night. The concert was presented by the Student Government Association as the annual fall concert.

It was a homecoming of sorts for the Nashville based band. Frontman Judah Akers reminded the crowd that the band’s first house show tour was in Johnson City. He likened their relationship to ETSU as one of familial bond even comparing it to hanging out on a relative’s couch.

Clothed in thrift store finds, Judah & the Lion turned the Mini-Dome’s grounds into a dance party. Their songs are made for the live show.

“Our shows are all about the experience we share with our fans,” says Akers. “We throw an absolute rage. And all the songs were made with that in mind. They’re fun, carefree and youthful.”

The nature of their homecoming to Johnson City made the band comfortable enough to change up the set list, address the crowd more than normal and extend their warmness to ETSU sports as they congratulated the football team on their successes this season.

Their set was colored by songs from each of their albums, including “Twenty-Somethings,” “Going to Mars,” “Reputation” and “Suit and Jacket.”

In addition to the performance of their own songs, the setlist included a variety of cover songs. Their rendition of the Killers’ 2004 hit, “Mr. Brightside,” electrified the crowd. The band adopted a crowd member for the duration of the song. The crowd member circulated around the stage in sync with Judah & the Lion as if practiced.  Additionally, “Wagon Wheel” added to the night in anthemic measure as the song mentions Johnson City by name –– “… heading west from the Cumberland Gap / to Johnson City, Tennessee.“)

The high caliber energy of the night peaked during the band’s hit single “Take It All Back,” as Akers jumped from the stage to crowd surf through a sea of Bucs. In encore, Judah & the Lion huddled around the mic as they ended the night with an uplifting cover of “Lean on Me.”

The show was opened by Betcha, an alternative rock band based out of Nashville, Tennessee. They primed the stage with a variety of their songs and covers alike.

For more information about Judah & the Lion, visit their website at

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