Deep down I knew it was Halloween all day but it didn’t feel like a Halloween. I wasn’t dressed up and, other than a random bag of Skittles that my manager gave me, I didn’t gorge myself on candy. Honestly, I’m exhausted and was almost too exhausted to care. It wasn’t until I walked into The Palace Theatre and the door guy (who clearly thinks I’m insane because I’m pretty sure he has checked my ID nearly every night for the past two weeks) asked me what I was dressed up as. Although it caught me a little off guard I responded with “Exhausted.” and kept on walking through the door to get my ticket scanned but not before catching him let out a little laugh. It was the truth, I was exhausted and last night may have been better spent catching up on some sleep but Judah & The Lion was in town and I just couldn’t miss it.
Kicking the night off to an excited and large audience was Flora Cash. I had never heard of Flora Cash before and even when they played their hit song “You’re Somebody Else” to close out the set, I still didn’t recognize the band but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying their quick opening set. The duo of Shpresa Lleshaj and Cole Randall made the absolute perfect pair. Their voices blended to match in a dreamy and ideal way creating a soundscape that, even if it wasn’t your cup of tea, you couldn’t help but fall in love with. Those two voices were joined by a simplistic band of just some keys, drums and the occasional guitar part played by Cole which really gave the vocals and the emotions produced by said vocals a chance to shine. Their songs seemed to fly by and by the time their quick set was done, I was left wanting more. Their set was great but I felt like there were emotions and songs left on the table that I just needed to hear. Sure, I could listen to them on recordings today and dig into Flora Cash’s discography while I’m at my day job but I don’t think I’d get the same feeling I did last night.
There was something about the connection that Cole and Shpresa had on stage. Actually, the more I think about it, I think it was more than just the obvious connection between the two musicians. Cole and Shpresa are clearly two different people. Shpresa had a very bubbly personality about her that made you want to move and bounce just from watching her jump on stage in her bright outfit. Cole had something more reserved about him. He came off as shy (which he would later admit to the crowd) and almost anxious to be on stage. The juxtaposition of the personalities matched the way the vocals combined to create something beautiful. Sure, the music was great but I think it was the personalities that really had me captivated by this group. I may have never heard of Flora Cash before and was truly shocked when Cole announced that he’s actually a local boy (hailing from Park Rapids) and they may not be my typical cup of tea but they had a truly enjoyable set on Thursday night and definitely got my attention.
Back in March of 2016 I had a night off and was desperate for a live show so I stumbled into The Varsity and was introduced to Judah & The Lion. I was blown away by the band’s creativity, energy, and sound and it created an obsession within me. I have seen the band multiple times since that fateful night a couple of years ago and every time their live show leaves me with a feeling of optimism and energy that I so badly need to get through my day by day. Last night was no different. Sure, I’ve fallen off the wagon a wee bit and their new album “Pep Talks” has yet to hit my daily playlist just due to the fact that I haven’t had the time to sit down and really listen through the album, but that hasn’t stopped me from continuing to play their old songs over and over again.
There’s something about this band’s music. It’s the way they have lyrics that are blunt and transparent about mental health and the way, even with somewhat dark and deep lyrics, the music stays upbeat and positive. Honestly, with how dark this world can be at times and with how busy everyone gets and how hard it is to just find a moment to decompress, Judah & The Lion’s music is something that I think we all need more of. Sure, I was exhausted yesterday to the point where I didn’t even celebrate one of my favorite holiday’s of the year, but as soon as Judah & The Lion took the stage, I got a second wind and felt full of life. Their poppy, infectious beats and high energy performance while radiating nothing but good vibes from the stage was exactly what I needed.
From covers to medleys to original songs, Judah & The Lion’s set flew by in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Although I couldn’t sing along to every single song they played, I felt every song their played in my soul and sometimes that’s more powerful than being able to scream along. The audience around me was eating up every single word and every single beat in an excited yet respectful way. I’m not quite sure how to explain it but even though people were having a great time and many were filled with with too much candy and alcoholic beverages, everyone respected everyone else’s way of having fun which created the perfect atmosphere.
There was no pressure to dance, no pressure to drink, it felt like all anyone cared about was the fact that everyone around them was having a good time and that’s exactly how a Judah & The Lion show should be…. hell, that’s how any show should be.