As most of you have heard, twenty one pilots are quickly growing in the music industry, and are becoming pretty popular. Both Stressed Out and Ride dominate the radios constantly, to the point of them being overplayed. I’ve been a fan of twenty one pilots for a pretty long time now. When I heard they were touring, I bought general admission tickets for the Cleveland show.
We waited in line for nine hours, and when we got in, we speedwalked to the front as quickly as possible. Initially, we were second row.
The first opener was Chef’Special, and while they were really good, nobody really knew who they were. However, they had a bouncy, upbeat vibe that everyone in the pit seemed to enjoy. The second opener, MUTEMATH, was known by more people, so the pit was a little more lively. MUTEMATH was pretty unique; their performance included a side bonus of a lightshow, and while the pit still wasn’t that bad, their actual stage presence was fairly intense.
During the break between MUTEMATH and twenty one pilots, the crew put down a sheet over the stage so they could prep without us seeing anything. After fifteen minutes of suffocating in the crowd, the lights began to dim, and the opening sounds started.
The opening mashup was Fairly Local/Heavydirtysoul. Fairly Local was pretty incredible, but the most intense part of the mashup was when Tyler Joseph, the lead singer, did a death drop and then proceeded to scream the end of the song. The second song they performed was Migraine, a track from their 2013 album Vessel. One of the things that I like most about this song is the fact that the crowd raps the entire first verse, and Tyler pretty much just listens while Josh Dun drums along.
The third song was Hometown, and while I knew the stunt that they pulled and how they did it, it still blew my mind. Effectively, Tyler teleports from the main stage to another spot in the arena. I wouldn’t look up how they do it, as it’s a bit disappointing, but the actual stunt was really neat.
During the fourth song, Polarize, Tyler played the bass. The sheer versatility of both members is enough to keep the show interesting, really, but the stunts make it fantastic. The fifth, sixth, and seventh songs were all on the ukulele. They started with House of Gold before continuing on to We Don’t Believe What’s On TV, and finished with The Judge. During WDBWOTV, Tyler would count to three and everybody would yell the, “yeah, yeah, yeah”s that make up a fair amount of the song, and during The Judge, everyone yelled “JOSH DUN” towards the end. At this point, I had wormed my way into barricade, and was enjoying the close view.
After these songs, the stage lights go down, and they started playing a video on the back screen. As I had been to the previous tour, I knew what was coming. The video ended with “stay low”, and they transitioned into Lane Boy.
Lane Boy is a very unique song that is infused with many different genres, representing the style that is twenty one pilots. It has pretty fast rapping, and a music video with dancing that emulates the Backstreet Boys. The most notable part of the song, though, is the dubstep-y buildup. During this part, Tyler stands on the piano and instructs everyone to “get low”.
I had experienced this before: While the buildup is happening, everyone in the arena crouches to the floor, as low as they can. At the bass drop, everyone jumps up and begins moshing while Tyler runs around the stage like a madman. The most professional way that I can describe the experience as a whole is the following: it was absolutely f*cking lit.
Following Lane Boy, the band transitioned to the B Stage at the back of the arena for Ode to Sleep and a piano compilation of their older songs. This was a pretty emotional setup for a lot of the more long-term or hardcore fans in the audience, as this was the only way a lot of us had ever heard those songs live.
After Tyler and Josh made their way back to the main stage, they performed Doubt, which also integrated the audience, and Holding On To You, during which Tyler climbs into the crowd to sing and Josh does a backflip off of the piano.
After that, they brought back the members of Chef’Special and MUTEMATH to sing some covers with them. Josh drummed for the first cover, Twist and Shout by the Beatles, and members of the opening bands played various instruments and sang the famed harmonies. During the second cover, Josh abandoned his drumset to play trumpet for My Heart Will Go On – and he did the Titanic pose with the lead singer of Chef’Special. The third cover was Love Yourself. Yes, twenty one pilots did a Justin Bieber cover – and they killed it. Tyler changed the second lyric just a bit to tell the audience that he “never liked to admit [he likes] this song”, and Josh played the trumpet part. The last cover, Jump Around, was pretty short, but everyone seemed to have fun.
After the covers, they performed Ride, where Josh drums on top of the crowd and Tyler plays bass again.
After Ride, they played Stressed Out. Now, I know a lot of people think the song is overplayed, but I was pretty excited for it anyway. As soon as Tyler started singing, however, we could tell that something was off. He had changed the lyrics of the first verse to explain his feelings over the popularity of the song. The complete lyric change is down below. After that show, the fans flooded Twitter with apologies to Tyler, and even trended the hashtag #ILoveStressedOut. The Cleveland concert was the only show so far with the lyric change, and Tyler addressed it in a recent interview.
Guns For Hands followed that. At the rap towards the end of the song, everyone holds up a finger gun and changes it to a fist, which was an emotional moment all around. My feelings towards the song, however, vanished pretty quickly when Tyler got into a human-sized hamster ball and ran around on top of the crowd.
The “last” two songs were Tear In My Heart and Car Radio. Although Tear In My Heart is written about Tyler’s wife, and not his bandmate, Josh had a pretty impressive snare drumline towards the end, made up of him and the two Hazmat suits from Lane Boy. Car Radio ended in Tyler screaming the lyrics and climbing a bit of hardware.
The encore consisted of Goner and Trees. During Goner, everyone held up FPE signs, prompting Tyler to say “the few, the proud, the emotional” into the mic. It was emotional, but not as much so as Trees.
Trees was the last number, and not only is it an emotional song already, but we all knew the concert was going to end after it. Everyone was already crying, and we all cried harder during the quiet part at the beginning where a girl next to me yelled, “you saved my life”.
When Trees gets more intense, Tyler and Josh both drum on top of the crowd for the end. Water is poured into the drums so it sprays onto the crowd, and confetti cannons are fired. I was fortunately close enough to almost hold up Tyler.
At the end of the concert, both members bowed while the crowd of 13,000 screamed their appreciation. Once we had quieted down enough, Tyler held the mic up to his mouth, and ended the show with, “We are twenty one pilots and so are you.”