Check out this story on my personal blog here.
Twenty One Pilots is a band that I really liked, their album was nearly flawless and their talent is no secret, but nothing could have prepared me for the experience I was about to embark on. The December 5th show at Irving Plaza in NYC was the last stop on the musical duo’s first nation tour to promote their album Vessel. However, this was not just their last show, it was our last show.
Before I go in depth with Twenty One Pilots’ set, let me quickly mention the two openers. Sirah, a indie rap and hip hop artist opened up the show, and she can perform. The audience, who for the most part had no idea who she was, fell into her grasp and she never let go.
She was followed by Smallpools, an indie pop band out of New York. They were a high surprise to me. I’ve heard on of their songs through the radio station (quick plug: tune in to 91.3 FM WTSR or online at wtsr.org), but their set was incredibly strong and they similarly took the audience for a ride.
But of course, now the main event. There was darkness. Nothingness. Then suddenly there was light, but all we can see were shadows. Then, “Trees” began to roar from the speakers. It has begun.
The beginning of the show was done mostly in darkness, except for the back drop creating silhouettes of the duo. This lasted all the way until they performed “Migraine”. Then Tyler Joseph is lit up on stage and tosses his ski mask to the audience.
He reveals himself to us, and the audience reveals themselves to him. We realize that this concert is going to tell a story. We are witnessing a birth, or rebirth. He follows “Migraine” up with “Fall Away” and “Ode to Sleep”.
Then, one of the high points of the night. During “Screen”, Josh Dun reveals himself. And now the concert has hit its stride. The audience is going nuts. There’s moshing, crowd surfing, jumping. But then Tyler speaks and the crowd falls silent.
He tell us in the pit that we are the performers. This is our show. He wants us to perform for those in the balcony. He follows it up with “House of Gold” and then mashes it up with “Brown Eyed Girl”. He promises to us that he is going to text his mom after there show.
For “Holding On to You” they bring out opener Sirah to help with the second verse. She absolutely kills it.
Then we hear the beginning of “Semi-Automatic”, my personal favorite song. The crowd is loving him, the rebirth that started the show has turned into life, and the show itself is alive. Then, a couple stagehands bring out a drum set on a platform. Josh Dun walks to the edge of the stage and helps hand it to the audience. Then the platform is being held up by the audience, much like the show. Dun climbs on the drum set and wails at during the last verse and chorus. Clearly it was one of the high points of the night.
He performs “The Run and Go” for us, and the crowd goes wild. We follow his direction and we perform for the balcony. At the end of the song after all the moshing and crowd surfing he says, “you guys react to music oddly.”
“Car Radio” was played next. It is a song that has to be seen performed to appreciate its beauty and emotionality. Continuing the audiences part in the performance he asked that when he jumped off the piano to go crazy, and we obliged.
Before the duo performed their final number, Joseph told the audience that at a certain point he was going to take his shirt off, and that when he did he asked that all the men in the audience to do the same. He put his hand in the air and then made a gun symbol. The familiar intro to “Guns for Hands” hits the crowd. When Joseph took his shirt off some of the men in the audience did too. We realize how liberating it felt. The concert set us free. Free from our troubles, baggage, and crutches.
This was truly one of the most mind-blowing and cathartic experiences in my entire life. It reminded me that music is meant to incite a reaction, and quite a reaction it did incite. Music should comfort the disturbed, and that night the entire audience felt right at home.
Note: All of this recap is done from memory, so the song order maybe slightly off, but that’s just part of the experience.