NCAA Block Party with Chainsmokers and Judah & the Lion Wows


March Madness in Minneapolis was where I found myself on Friday night. The crowds outside went for over 5 blocks, 7 easily I was told by friends, as people waited for their designated time to pick up tickets to the show. I was more than happy with the fact that I would be able to skirt this process and go directly into the venue at show time. But not to gloss over the point of the night’s festivities let me give a very brief bio for those not aware of the Chainsmokers. They’re a mega sensation electronic music duo from New York who has almost 5 tracks now on Spotify with over a billion plays. They’ve collaborated with names like Halsey and 5 Seconds of Summer. And arguably dominated college campuses for the last few years. Chances are you’ve heard them and at the time thought, I wonder who this is(that was me a few years back). Now take this artist and add on another rising hit band, Judah and the Lion, and you’re going to have one heck of a show. I do apologize that I must at this time break the news we didn’t have photo access to this event, March Madness gods be damned, so there is no visuals to accompany this piece. Now, to the main attraction.

Judah and the Lion, let me counts the ways. All I can say is I am admittedly a huge fan and this being the 4th time in just about 2 years I have seen them, they’re killing it. And to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what the aim was when I saw them paired with Chainsmokers initially. I’m not marketing genius, not by a long shot, but I think I figured it out once the night got rolling. If you group for this show was friends who LOVE Chainsmokers, and a couple people who were out because it was Friday, and one or two that were unsure but enjoy some fun music and the festivities, this show probably hit every check box for you. What Judah and the Lion with Chainsmokers is, is a huge dance party. Judah hit the stage with their trademark “hippie dances”(song reference) and all the folks I saw previously with their back to the stage quickly learned these guys weren’t “just some opener”. Songs like Take it All Back and Going to Mars were huge hits with the audience and from the balcony you saw people dancing from end to end at the Armory. What I left the show with in terms of feelings about Judah and the Lion remains ever true as the first time I saw them at a charity gig in the Varsity Theater. They’re a group of goofy, happy, fun loving guys who are as much fun to listen to in your car singing along as they are live. There’s no denying they love what they’re doing and the music they’re making. And even more, how much their fans love it.

With the dance party initiated by Judah and some foot stomping banjo jams it was time for the main act. This was quite a production so I wasn’t sure how it would be accomplished so quickly with the setup each artist had. Somehow, in the frame of what I THINK was merely 15 minutes or so, they had the stage transitioned. Next, queue the epic introduction track, fire, smoke, and lights. Enter, The Chainsmokers. I’m going to sound like a grandpa when saying this but even for as much as I love some Chainsmokers songs I had every expectation of leaving this show with a vibe of “eh, heard that before. They’re like every other DJ duo lately”. I left instead with applause. Say what you will about electronic pop tracks of the last few years, but these guys are the real deal once you see them live. 

I can genuinely say that for all the times I have seen a DJ or two on stage try to be energetic and entertaining. 90% of them end up doing the same thing as one another with one or both arms in the air and saying every few songs “everybody!” to provoke the crowd. Chainsmokers absolutely nailed it in the department and I think besides Big Wild has been one of my most favorite electronic shows in the last year. Andrew and Alex both have their own style and personal touch on stage play but they pull it off well. Dancing down the cat walk, singing with the crowd acapella, and overall energy were on point for this. And as much as I doubted, I see the appeal with Chainsmokers now. Songs you loved before, they’re great, but hear these guys live and you’ll find some new favorites. Pyrotechnics, dancing, singing, more dancing, all that and add the energy of March Madness this was one show I am damn happy to have seen as a fan and not behind my camera. 

Come for the basketball, stay for the tunes. Whatever got you to the Armory I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and can attempt to display in a thousand words. For those who didn’t make it, yes the rumors are true and Chainsmokers are just that dang good live. So you SHOULD buy those tickets and plays those tracks(this article not sponsored by Chainsmokers promise).