Let’s cut to the chase: Twenty One Pilots blew me away.
Just before the band went on, I stepped asked a woman, “Can you see?” to which she replied, “It’s music, it doesn’t matter.” Honey, you could not be more wrong. Foremost, this “band” (it’s a duo) isn’t solely a music act, they’re musical theatre.
Gone are the days when leaping off an amp or Pete Townshend’s windmill could wow a crowd. Singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun have studied and seized every costume and mind-blowing stunt rock has in its arsenal, then stretched and shined those antics. Dun doesn’t just mosh the crowd himself, he moshes the entire drum kit; Joseph traversed the stage, then entered a huge zorb ball and traversed the audience. Later, he (or maybe a double?) climbed a lighting tower and finished a song from a dizzying height. Sometimes Tyler raps while playing a freakin’ ukulele.
It was a hot night, and drummer Dun opted for a topless-in-boxers look, though, like Joseph, his ski/Spiderman masks changed often, sometimes concealing his red eyeliner—all of those looks equally creepy, if nonthreatening. This night, Joseph augmented his own tattoos with blackout ink up his neck.
Twenty One Pilots’ music includes pop, rap, rock, alt-hip hop and electropop, with a little reggae and bar band thrown in for good measure (sometimes in the same song), thereby has striking a chord with almost everyone who likes any one of those genres. Lyrics typically address everyday issues from an unusual perspective, giving these Columbus, OH boys a downtown/hipster luster. Providing the soundtrack to the film Suicide Squad upped their profile, and they snagged a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, as well as Billboard’s Top Rock Album” and “Top Rock Artist” awards.
Here’s one band that’s definitely out of the box, even when they’re in a zorb. Catch them, and be prepared to catch your breath.