Twenty One Pilots plays Pittsburgh


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“We are Twenty One Pilots…and so are you.”
A simple statement from Twenty One Pilots’ lead man Tyler Joseph finishes every performance from the popular music group, and encompasses the ironic simplicity of their extremely large and passionate fan base.
Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena hosted the chart-climbing duo, and over 10,000 of their fan counterparts on Friday evening. This concert was the eighth show in the third leg of Twenty One Pilots’ Emotional Roadshow World Tour.
This “fairly local” band based in Columbus, Ohio, consists of vocalist Joseph, and drummer Josh Dun. The two have been touring since May and visited Pittsburgh in June at Stage AE.
The show itself was simply as the title suggests: an emotional roadshow. Filled with delight, diversion, depression and everything in between, the performance was pure electric.
It’s no surprise that the venue was buzzing with excitement considering the arena show had been sold out since mid-summer.
Many of the overly dedicated fans camped out in the cold weather for hours before doors opened in hopes of being front row for their favorite hip-hop, alternative-pop band.
There were also many fans dressed in Twenty One Pilots apparel, ski masks and all, with one girl even sporting a makeshift retro television set atop her head as a reference to the band’s song “Screen.”
A majority of the fans in attendance were fairly young, either high school age or younger, which was initially surprising considering the heavy themes of most Twenty One Pilot songs.
As the angsty pre-teens and their accompanying parents settled into their seats, the show began with alternative folk band Judah & the Lion from Nashville, Tenn., and hip-hop artist Jon Bellion from New York.
Both artists were clever opening act choices seeing as how they each have a current charting song: “Take it All Back” from Judah & the Lion and “All Time Low” from Bellion.
The arena was rightfully energized and anxious after the last song was performed by Bellion, although it would be nearly an hour until the main act would take the stage.
After an anticipated wait, the artwork from the newest Twenty One Pilot album “Blurryface” flashed on the screen and was followed by a video of Joseph’s alter ego, Blurryface, singing the opening verse from “Fairly Local.”
Dressed in ski masks and red suits, Joseph and Dun dramatically appeared to the roar of the arena, and performed the first song off of their newest album, “Heavydirtysoul.”
Fan favorite song “Migraine” was next, followed by a performance of “Hometown” in which Joseph displayed the first of many surprises of the show by vanishing off stage and reappearing in the crowd on the top tier of the arena.
After returning to the main stage, the duo performed a number of tunes including the hit from the Suicide Squad soundtrack, “Heathens,” and another fan favorite rap “Laneboy,” which transitioned to fun EDM rave that had almost every attendee out of his or her seat.
A nostalgic homemade video from 2011 distracted the audience and gave Joseph and Dun time to transition to their second stage set up in the middle of the general admission floor.
Returning in skeleton costumes, Joseph and Dun performed “Ode to Sleep” on the smaller stage, which used an LED floor to showcase amazing graphics.
On the smaller stage the two also performed the heartbreaking tune “Addict with a Pen,” and as if that wasn’t emotional enough, followed that song with a cover of My Chemical Romance’s “Cancer.”
After transitioning back to the main stage, the Pilots played some of their more mainstream songs including “Ride” and “Stressed Out.”
While for the dedicated Twenty One Pilot fan these songs might have been boring due to their popularity, the duo did an excellent job keeping the songs still personal for their true fans with the elaborate graphics.
To the normal audience member the graphics were simply something interesting to look at, most of the images were symbolic and held significant meaning to the fan base.
Mid show Joseph and Dun welcomed their opening acts back onto the main stage for a few fun covers including Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and a seemingly appropriate rendition of the Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is the Love?”
Near the end of the concert, Joseph kept the energy up in the pit by hopping into an inflated “hamster ball” for the band’s upbeat song “Guns for Hands.”
For the pre-encore finale, the pair performed two of their biggest hits, “Tear in my Heart” and the heavy rap “Car Radio.”
After a few minutes of ovations from the crowd, the duo reappeared to perform the monumental end album songs “Goner” and “Trees.”
With confetti trickling from the ceiling as both of the boys were pounding on drums held up by their front row fans, “Trees” was the perfect symbolic and climactic ending to a two-hour long emotional rollercoaster.
Joseph and Dun certainly put on a show, somehow managing to incorporate a magic stunt, a mid-show Mario cart race and a hamster ball roll into the show, without taking any credit away from their raw musical talent and their sincere works of art.
Twenty One Pilots is the perfect mix between authentic artistry and mainstream music and their live show encompassed every bit of their diversity.
At first listen, most of their songs sound like upbeat catchy jams, but when you break down the lyrics, the songs are far from happy.
In fact, it is practically impossible to find one Twenty One Pilots song that doesn’t have a depressing undertone or lyric referring to anxiety, self-hate, depression or suicide.
While a majority of these songs mention mental illness, they also contain uplifting messages of conquering your battles and defeating your “blurryface.”
The heavy lyrics juxtaposed with upbeat tempos provide a perfect parallel of the patterns of happiness and sadness that every person faces.
The issues that Twenty One Pilots showcases have undoubtedly played a role in their success and have given them their passionate fan base made up of “the few, the proud and the emotional.”
Twenty One Pilots’ live production was a fantastic display of imagination, talent and emotion, proving that sometimes the most intimate and memorable shows are ones held with you and 15,000 of your closest, messed-up friends.