I arrived in Madrid on the day of the concert by way of high-speed train. Located right in the middle of Spain, it was only a two-hour ride from the slightly northwest home of my university in the Capital of the Spanish Province of Castille and Leon, a charming city named Valladolid.
With the show slated to start at nine thirty I was forced to cut my exploration of the magnificent city of Madrid prematurely. Once in the venue, we settled into the press area located in the same quarters as the DJ and sound mixer.
SOJA opened with a hearty ballad performed by only lead singer Jacob Hemphill and his electric guitar. By this time the discoteca had been filled to capacity and the band was quick to follow Hemphill’s lead. Playing hit single “I Believe” off their new album Amid The Noise And Haste, surrounded by a highly hospitable reception from the Spanish crowd.
Hailing from the slightly conventional state of Virginia, SOJA has attained undeniable success in places that are a far cry from their humble beginnings. While they have toured around the world, their songs have especially caught on among a large population of the Latin American youth.
The sentiment of songs such as “Mentality” and “Strength to Survive” is one of suspicion with the motives and practices of the status quo, a feeling that many of these young adults are relating to while many of their countries are undergoing a period of transition.
Hits from previous albums were also featured prominently on the set list. “I Don’t Wanna Wait” and “You And Me” from successful 2009 album Born in Babylon had the Spanish spectators singing choruses acapela, a gesture encouraged by the gracious band.
During their entire performance, SOJA never failed to entertain.
Over the past few years SOJA has reaped the benefits of what looks to be a grueling tour schedule. The band regularly plays over a hundred dates in a calendar year in the most diverse of settings. SOJA could be sharing the stage with the likes of Dave Matthews Band or they could be playing in front of 80,000 at a festival in Brazil.
During their entire performance, SOJA never failed to entertain. There was a seven piece percussion display put on by members of the band, side tangents that ranged from different versions of old songs to harsh political commentary, Hemphill even took brief moments to Instagram the occasion in between songs.
The closing minutes of SOJA’s set contained a medley of trumpet and saxophone, a unique element to their special blend of music. Gifted guitarists dominated the last seconds while singer/guitarist Bobby Lee waved his dreadlocks through the air.
After warm thanks and goodbyes were given to the crowd, Hemphill and company left the stage. The crowd waited patiently for a possible encore but it was not to be. A concession that was not off-putting in the slightest, given the amount of energy and quality of the music SOJA had just graced the stage with.
For more infomation about SOJA, give them a visit on their website.