Who says you need more than two people to start a group? These days, nobody subscribes to the notion that “the more the merrier maketh a band”, unless of course you’re Talking Heads or Fleetwood Mac. I personally can’t believe that so much noise can be generated by a musical duo. Yet, 21 Pilots’ acrobatic display, onstage energy & outlandishly cool beats was a preternatural spectacle – hands down, without a doubt, one of this years best gigs.
It was the American Duo’s last gig on the Bandido tour for their latest album Trench, as singer Tyler Joseph added “I couldn’t think of a better place to be”. His laidback style and sparse audience engagement, except for the occasional “How we doing out there?” roused the staunch fans or “Skeleton Clique”. The low rumbling sub bass & dirgy guitar gave way to drummer Josh Dun’s phenomenal time-keeping, opening with their latest singles Jumpsuit & Levitate, complete with a full on burning car on stage. It was one hell of an entrance that didn’t let up all night.
Goaded by the pyrotechnics & dazzling light show, it was a well thought out set list that had the eclectic crowd moving and grooving in their seats. A mixed crowd of old & young, pierced & tattooed with Tyler Joseph at one stage in the concert singling out all the Father’s busting out their “Dad Dance” moves on the big screen with hilarious effect. Blurryface favourites Fairly Local, Stressed Out, Ride & Lane Boy were given their dues sounding every bit as good as their digital counterparts, if not better. Performing live is where 21 Pilots excel and where their songs blur into performance.
21 Pilots have successfully honed the art of furnishing catchy tunes. They recognise the importance of a melody, none more exemplified than by the crowd sing-a-longs etching those melodic hooks into the subconscious. Not many bands have discovered its potential but 21 Pilots have seemingly latched on to it with a dollop of latent ability. Tunes like My Blood or The Judge are prime examples, however, the penchant to write copious amounts of hit singles seemingly comes at will to the group.
Older tunes Holding On To You and Car Radio were on the money, with newer Trench tunes Nico and the Niners, Leave The City and the Eminem-esque Pet Cheetah grabbing the last couple of spots before ending with their signature song Trees. It was a show that was every bit as impressive as any, each song was treated as if its own music video, the big screen behind the band with strobing lights capturing the intensity of the show, there was plenty to keep the crowd entertained and singing along. I honestly felt spent at the end of the show from just watching them.
The subtle costume changes and appearing in different parts of the concert hall in the audience all added to the nights festivities. 21 Pilots is an experience and conceptual show that’s suited to their Reggae, Rap, Rock style of music. Anyone who can go from playing a Ukulele on We Don’t Believe What’s On TV to the Hip Hop beats of Morph is a band that can’t be pigeonholed, and this is what I love about the band. I would draw comparisons to label mates Panic! At The Disco, a myriad of musical genres generated into melodic bliss.
It was probably the best two hours spent on a seemingly unassuming Friday night. Even my girlfriend was astounded adding, “ How did I miss all this?”. I doubt we will assume the mantle of becoming fully fledged “cliques” but we are definitely ‘skeleton’ inside. Love it when that happens.