Crowds of festival-goers shuffled onto the main lawn of the festival grounds as the third act of Movin’ On 2018 kicked off with folk-pop group, Judah & the Lion.
The group features Judah Akers on lead vocals and guitar, Brian MacDonald on mandolin and Nate Zuercher on banjo. Their sound, a blend of hip-hop beats, banjo riffs, fuzz bass and electronic melodies, was something that no one in the crowd expected from the native Tennessee group.
Their set began with a pounding bass backed by booming vocals that moved fast into a T-Pain cover, throwing the mood off into a direction that no student in the crowd could have possibly anticipated. It was clear right from the start that this performance would be far from ordinary.
All three members took to the stage with a wildly enthusiastic attitude as lead man Akers broke out dance moves wild enough to match the mood.
They transitioned into their song “Twenty-Somethings”, complete with their classic banjo riffs and folky vocals that melted into the crowd as the sun started to sink lower behind the main stage.
Akers began to yell out a Penn State classic “We Are” chant that pulled the crowd closer into the vibe of the show.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard of our band, but we really don’t care,” says Akers. “Tonight, we’re about everybody.”
As the set moved along, the crowd grew bigger and bigger, and even more full of energy. They performed their song, “Conversations,” another intense and fast-paced performance, cut with some of their signature banjo solos.
Heart-pounding bass then poured through the speakers as the band broke out tambourines to shake along with their “Suit and Jacket,” packed with lyrics about growing up, but still living in the moment. Backed by bass and strobe lights, Akers had more to yell out to the crowd.
“Get busy livin’ or get busy dying Penn State,” says Akers. “That’s the only way to do it. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior remember you can do anything you want with your life and there’s nothing that can stop you.”
And just when the crowd thought that they must have seen it all, a cover of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” broke out; a song no one could have ever expected to hear backed by a banjo and mandolin.
From start to finish the show was a whirlwind of sound, hard to nail down and label with one genre. But the set wrapped up with the most recognizable of the group’s songs, “Take it All Back.” The crowd quickly erupted with an energy even bigger than before, as everyone sang along with the familiar song’s nostalgic, feel-good lyrics.
“We only finish our shows one way,” Akers yelled as the song was coming to an end. “I want everybody up off your feet.”
With that, the set blew up with synthetic hip-hop beats, bass and a display of multi-colored lights that shook the stage, and took the crowd by surprise one last time at Movin’ On 2018.