This is one night I will never forget. Despite the major distraction and annoyance of drunken idiots and pushing teens in the crowd, which threatened me as well as others near me to ruin the evening, Twenty One Pilots made me a believer. Even when walking towards the arena we spotted a plane flying overhead with a banner “TWENTY ONE PILOTS…LOSE YOURSELF”. I knew we were in for a special night.
First a bit about the opening bands though. Five Knives was pretty decent. I was only aware of one of their songs “All Fall Down” before the show, but they played a decent length set that combined electronic dance beats, crunchy guitars and the rap/sing/rap style of lead vocalist. The vocals were a bit low in the mix but their sound was clear and they had great energy. I look forward to hearing more of these guys in the future. New Politics was the second band. Sorry guys. I tried to like them but it just wasn’t happening. Despite the singer having a crazy manic energy, breakdancing, and doing what I could only call a handstand solo, the songs were either ho-hum, or in the worst case direct ripoffs of other songs. The moment they lost me is when they played a song they said was called “Dignity”, and then proceeded to play “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies, and change the words. And not in a clever way like how Weezer did it. But in that ripoff way like Pitbull stealing from A-ha. But then Twenty One Pilots took stage and.. pandemonium!
Now I am new to t|o|p. I fell in love with them the week Vessel was released. I didn’t realize at that time that the two members Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are from Columbus, where I have lived for about 8 years now, and that they were hometown heroes with two indie albums already under their belts. While I am obsessed with Vessel, and starting to get to know the first two albums, there was a good portion of the crowd that knew every word to songs from the early albums and I felt schooled. Especially by the family that was next to me that brought their maybe 12 year old daughter, and she knew every word! This concert meant everything in the world to her and it was inspiring to be at such a great show and see the music really moving someone in spite of the rude kids that were pushing and shoving in and out of the crowd every few minutes. These brats and dodging jumping people made it hard to pay attention to the first couple songs, but once things settled down the goosebumps started and didn’t stop.
The show started with the collapsible folding wall rising to reveal a huge LED wall in the shape of the band’s mysterious logo, with a drum set perched above the middle slash, and the crowd all joining in to the opening of “Fake You Out”. The intensity kept up song after song with “Migraine”, “The Run and Go”, “Screen” and a lot of the songs that are not yet hits but are hits to the fans regardless. That’s how you know you have a good album. At one point some guys in white lab coats brought a table out onto the stage, and Tyler announced to the crowd that to mark the occasion, both he and Josh were going to have a small X tattooed on them. Tyler, on his arm, and Josh on his neck. He told us that any time the band were asked about the tattoo they would tell the story of this show. They told us throughout the show how important this was to them, that they would always come back no matter what, no matter how big they get.
Another big highlight is when Tyler not only crowd surfed shirtless in a ski mask, or crowd swam technically, and then once he reached the back of the main section up front, had a piano ready and sang “Taxi Driver” from the self titled first album. At one point they did the song “Kitchen Sink”, which features Tyler’s brother on vocals on the album. This night Tyler’s brother was there to do the vocals with him. That was a special moment for him and for us. They moved through several older songs I only barely knew but loved every moment along with newer stuff from Vessel, which they played the entirety of by the end of the show.
Later a drum riser was lifted up the front of the crowd, and Josh Dun played the last part of “Semi-Automatic” while he and his drums were held up by the fans. Just after that, Tyler climbed the roof awning to the right of the stage, walked over, teetered off the archway of the crowd entrance, made his way up the lighting rig right above us, and sang to us from up there starting “Holding On To You”. Then a minute later, I blinked and he was back on stage. This guy has so much energy, so much running and jumping mid-air off speakers, instruments, and his vocals don’t suffer. It just gives him more fuel. That kind of intensity is irresistible. Towards the end the guys went off stage, put on their skull outfits and launched into “Ode To Sleep” one of the highest energy songs so far, moved to “Guns For Hands”, and “Car Radio”, where Tyler prefaced with a story about his shock a song with no chorus could ever work. It was one of the most moving singalongs of the night. the guys get so lost in the moment during this one. Tyler jokes beforehand that they would do another song as an encore if we wanted one, and he’d even come out to chant “one more song!” with us. And he did. The crowd was so worked up, and what an encore! The guys broke into “Trees”, one of their most beautiful and emotive songs which became an intense singalong. Towards the end of the song, out marched the OSU marching band, and tons and tons of confetti spilled out of cannons into the sky. Because of the breeze, it was lifted up into the sky and took a few minutes to even start raining back down. Much of it just soared up and away like our voices. It may seem a little corny, but I was teary-eyed at that point.
But that wasn’t the end, Tyler came back out with a piano and sang the final track of Vessel, “Truce”. This was a quiet and beautiful moment with the crowd supplying the singalong refrain every other line. At the end, Josh took off Tyler’s ski mask,then his, placed one on poles on each of the sides of the stage, then hoisted a third up onto high pole, and handed it to the front of the audience, no doubt signifying the crowd as the third necessary part of Twenty One Pilots. The band took their bows and left the stage. Much of the crowd waited a bit in case there was even more. But I can’t see how you could follow such a beautiful, perfect ending. These guys gave every single ounce of energy, sweat and dedication they had during this show. You could tell exactly how important it was to them to do their absolutely best for their hometown crowd. Not only did they not disappoint, but they transcended and pushed that bar even higher.
As an important side note, the entire show was filmed and photographed professionally. I can only hope this show is released soon to show the world just how outstanding of a performance these two guys give. If they are coming to your town, don’t question, just go!
Tracklist (very rough order as I didn’t write them down):
Fake You Out
The Run and Go
House of Gold
Addict With A Pen
Ode To Sleep
Holding On To You
Guns For Hands
Here is some footage we were able to get during “Semi-Automatic” and “Holding On To You”…