Music Review, Slideshow: Judah & the Lion at Chicago’s Northerly Island

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Nate Zuercher of Judah and the Lion.

CHICAGO – On a dark and overcast night in Chicago, Judah & the Lion took the stage after an extended rain delay at Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, radiating charisma and positive energy.’s Music Editor and photographer Jeff Doles was there to capture the action and cover the performance.

Judah & the Lion, an alt-folk band from Nashville, Tennessee, was formed in 2011. They have released four studio albums and five EPs. The band currently consists of Judah Akers (vocals, guitar), Brian Macdonald (mandolin, vocals) and Nate Zuercher (banjo). The band released their fifth studio album, “The Process,” on Friday, May 10th, 2024. Akers, as the lead singer and main songwriter, endured a series of devastating events, including the loss of family members to suicide and a divorce from his wife, all within approximately six months. Overwhelmed and numb, Judah turned to music for healing.

Judah & the Lion’s songs blend folk, rock, and hip-hop, and their live performances are infused with positivity through crowd interaction, choreographed dancing, and an upbeat style and energy, and that was all evident at the Chicago show. Their banjo-picking is high-energy. passionate and uplifting, with songs that are as heartfelt live as they are on the radio.

Their recent 19-track album is a soul-baring song cycle that grapples with the five stages of grief – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance – ultimately finding beauty and purpose within the pain. Named iHeart’s Best New Alternative Artist in 2019, Judah & the Lion’s debut album went platinum, and their last record reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Album charts. Their song “Take It All Back” held the Number One spot on the alternative chart for over a month. Their music has been featured in Target ads and Netflix shows, amassing over 700 million global streams.

Upcoming 2024 shows include July 4th in Summit Park (Blue Ash, Ohio), August 3rd at the Basilica Block Party (Minneapolis, Minnesota) and a complete fall tour beginning in Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 4th. Click the band link below the Slideshow for details.

Click “Next” and “Previous” to scan through the slideshow or jump directly to individual photos with the captioned links below. All photos © Jeff Doles for

  1. JUDAHLION1: Judah Akers of Judah & the Lion.
  2. JUDAHLION2: Nate Zuercher of Judah & the Lion.
  3. JUDAHLION3: Another view of Judah.
  4. JUDAHLION4: Brian Macdonald of Judah & the Lion
  5. JUDAHLION5: Young Fan at Judah & the Lion, Northerly Island, Chicago.

For more information about Judah & the Lion (including their upcoming U.S. Tour Dates), click For more photos and coverage by music editor Jeff “Doc” Doles, click Jeff Doles, Music Editor.

Review by: Jeff Doles, Music Editor
Published by: Patrick McDonald, Site Editor,

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