Last year, the members of Judah and the Lion sat down and made a wish list of gigs they’d like to land. At the top – in that No. 1 spot – was as an opening act for Twenty One Pilots.
So, when Nate Zuercher says his band is stoked to be on the Emotional Roadshow tour when it stops at the Save Mart Center on Tuesday, he’s talking “really, genuinely stoked.”
“Everything about it is surreal in just about every sense of the word,” says Zuercher, who plays banjo in the Nashville band.
Halfway through the set each night, he still finds himself looking up from his spot on stage and realizing there is a whole other level of seating in these arenas. The majority of the fans in those seats have come to see the headliner, of course. Most of tour dates were sold out before Judah and the Lion was even added to the bill.
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But, fans have been arriving early.
“Some very enthusiastic and open-minded people are coming to these shows,” Zuercher says.
Not that Judah and the Lion hasn’t earned its share of fans, with its mix of folky Americana, hip-hop and indie-rock. This is a band for fans of Mumford and Sons, One Republic and Imagine Dragons – or so says Rolling Stone, which just named Judah and Lion one of 10 new bands you need to know.
Reading it aloud, the particular combination of influences seems incongruous. It’s something the band has struggled with, especially after the release of its second album last year. The album, aptly titled “Folk Hop ’N Roll,” saw the band pushing beyond the Americana banner it tended to get lumped into.
“There was a good six-month period when we were trying to explain ourselves,” Zuercher says.
That was before the single “Take It All Back” landed at the top of Billboard’s Alternative Rock chart. It’s currently No. 6, three full spots higher than Twenty One Pilots “Heavydirtysoul.” The song is the kind of radio friendly anthem that pulls you in and has you singing along by the second chorus, even if you’ve never heard the tune before. It came out of an impromptu jam session that band had while rehearsing for tour.
It was written in less than an hour and became an instant band favorite, Zuercher says: “We played it every show since.”
Judah and the Lion
Opening for Twenty One Pilots
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14
- Save Mart Center
- This show is sold out
- 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com