Judah & The Lion came rocketing out on to the stage at the House of Blues San Diego.

A digital display on stage asked, “are you ready?” Playing their hit “Suit and Jacket,” we were launched into Judah & The Lion’s Going to Mars Tour.

Their 17-song set included 7 tracks from their latest release, Folk Hop N’ Roll Deluxe. Though unabashedly rock ‘n roll, their songs were inter-meshed with both alternative folk influences and rap/hip-hop riffs. Frontman Judah Akers wore a vintage Toby Keith shirt, which was an interesting juxtaposition and reflection of their diverse musicality. Brian Macdonald’s mandolin, Nate Zuercher’s banjo, and an accordionist added further to the quirkiness of their styling and sound.

They generously shared the stage for many of the songs with members of the two opening bands, Tall Heights and Colony House.

Akers told us that he wanted their last song to end with a “dance party.” With that the stage blew up with their hit “Take It All Back.”

For the encore, Akers invited both support bands back on the stage, and brought out two San Diego musicians, who he described as his “music heroes,” Tyson Motsenbocker who has played as a special guest on previous dates of this Tour and Switchfoot’s co-founder, Jon Foreman. On a musician-packed stage, they played a cover of “Lean on Me,” and took their final bow.

For San Diego fans, the news was only good. Akers said that, “San Diego was one of our fastest sell outs on this tour. And I hope that we can keep coming back.” Playing San Diego, he said, would be “like a show sandwiched in between a vacation for them.” Adding that maybe he “could learn to surf?” Though as a “Tennessee Boy” he said, he was afraid of sharks. The last time they headlined in San Diego they played to “[only] about 100 people and probably 50 of them were on the guest list!” His gratitude for their San Diego fans was notable and genuine.

REVIEW BY: Jackie Ferguson
PHOTOS BY: Sylvia Borgo