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Twenty One Pilots

Over the last year, since Twenty One Pilots’ earworm single “Blurry Face” crushed radio plays for months on end, I’ve struggled with my feelings toward the band. Yes, they are catchy. Yes, they are good and yes, I love the songs on the radio. I had a hard time, however, reconciling their pop punk image with the type of music they play. Admittedly, as I headed into their nearly sold-out arena show in upstate New York, I fully expected to have my jaded version of them confirmed by an audience of young devotees. I was — for the most part — wrong. The crowd was as expected: young, screaming teenagers clamoring to get the best Instagram story and excited to see their favorite band live. The performance, on the other hand, had me eating my words. 

As the crowd screamed in anticipation, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, came out wearing red suit jackets and ski masks. The energy was high and the deep red lighting created a moodier vibe than what their Sublime-esque sound would have you expect. Josh, the drummer, who, based off of the level of high-pitched boy band style screaming, is the heartthrob between the two, started the show at his drumset showing off his impressive skills and ability to rile an audience.  Tyler then grabs a microphone that’s hanging from above and begins to sing in a pitch so on point I actually mouthed the word “wow” to my partner.


As the show continued on, the energy of the first song remained until the last. The stage switched from front to back and even had Tyler standing on a speaker in the nosebleed section. 


At one point in the set, they called the openers back on stage to sing three throwback songs: ‘No Diggity’ by Black Street, ‘I Get Knocked Down’ by Chumbawumba and ‘Where is the Love?’ by The Black Eyed Peas.  While many of the ’90s hits seemed to go right over the teenage audience’s heads, the three songs they choose were the perfect nod to the origins of their sound.


I left the show with a different understanding of the band that I have heard played in stores, restaurants and through my car’s speakers constantly over the last year. Aside from being talented musicians, Twenty Pilots is a few things: they understand their fans more than I could ever presume to, they put on an incredibly entertaining show and they give jaded twenty-somethings a reason to put their foot in their mouth.

Story / Alyssa Hardy / @stopalyssatime

Photos / Jordan Keyser / @airjordank

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