Last night was a night to remember. Little two piece local band twenty | one | pilots ain’t so little anymore. Rumors have been flying about what the night would have in store. So, naturally I was excited to get there and then post about my experience online.
All three opening bands have Ohio or Columbus connections. Electro-alt rock outfit LVX of Powell opened the show. After some shaky vocals they got rolling with a short set of fun tunes. They sounded a bit on the generic side but they also looked very young, so the next few years will determine where LVX is headed.
Crown, a three-piece (sometimes a four) came on next. They had more of a throwback feel and gave a very tight, thoroughly rock n’ roll performance. I kept thinking, “Why haven’t I heard of these guys outside of the context of this show?” Some technical difficulties brought their set to a halt in the middle but overall I found them pretty enjoyable.
The classic rock feel continued with Red Hot Revival (risen from the ashes of the pop-rock quartet This Love, for those who follow the Ohio scene). They gave a solid performance, but felt out of place given who the audience was there to see. For their first gig ever (and what a gig they landed) it was good. Their vocalist has transitioned into his new role well.
The duo everyone had been waiting for emerged clad in all white, including masks, holding spotlights which moved over the audience. After talking their respective positions onstage, twenty | one | pilots kicked things off with “Holding Onto You” amidst a white backdrop with their logo projected onto it. Midway through the song the sheet dropped, revealing a large scaffolding grid with a spotlight in each “square”, a keyboard set up in the middle and some extra drums way up top. Drummer Josh Dun paused during the bridge of the song to perform his trademark backflip off of Tyler Joseph’s piano, of course adding to the frenzy. Excitement became a rave environment with their following performance of “Lovely” and the oldie “Time to Say Goodbye.”
Joseph and Dun paused to give a brief monologue on Instagram and awkwardness, which by any other fan base and band may have elicited heckling to “get on with the show!” but not this time. Another oldie followed, “Addict With A Pen” before the two slunk backstage and the foreboding melody of “Ode to Sleep” got people fired up once again, with the duo wearing their trademark skeleton masks and shirts for this song. Joseph became a madman during the rapped verses. After this, the band paused again, saying they wanted to tell us the story of the band. Long story short, a small, Columbus, Ohio band sold out a major venue (something unheard of), that being the Newport Music Hall last November, attracting the attention of over a dozen record labels. After affirmation that twenty | one | pilots holds its identity as much in the fans as they do in the music (neither of which they want to compromise) Joseph proclaimed jubilantly “YOU GOT SIGNED TO FUELED BY RAMEN RECORDS!” The audience went berserk, and the band celebrated with us (and the Fueled by Ramen record execs revealed to be sitting in the box seats) by performing “Forest.” The main set later concluded with the classic, dark “Car Radio.” The inevitable encore yielded Josh Dun performing an extended dubstep-inspired drum solo. Tyler Joseph came back out, and after a crash course in choir for the audience they played Regional at Best album opener “Guns For Hands” (Joseph had the audience singing the opening notes leading into the song). The duo climbed to the peak of the scaffolding mid-song to bang on some drums, and the show ended with a performance of “Trees.” Not to go out on a mellow note, Joseph and Dun found themselves banging on drums again, this time whilst crowd surfing and amid two confetti cannons running full blast. Wow.
Given their new record label’s pedigree (Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Fun., etc) its almost a given that twenty | one | pilots will blow up. I’m glad to have been there on a historic night that will hopefully cement Columbus, Ohio as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.
Check out this bootleg video of “Addict With a Pen” from the show: