Twenty One Pilots: well worth the price

Emily Doran

This past weekend, a friend and I made the last-minute decision to buy tickets to see Twenty One Pilots at the DTE Energy Music Theatre as part of their Emotional Roadshow World Tour. When I say “last-minute,” I’m not kidding: the night before the show in Clarkston, Michigan, my friend and I (who are both chronic procrastinators) giddily bought resale tickets for the back left of the pavilion for probably three times what they were originally worth. (I consequently vowed never to put off buying coveted tickets ever again.) Still, I can confidently conclude that the tickets were well worth the price.

The theatre was sold out: over 15,000 people had come to witness one of Twenty One Pilots’ first major shows since they exploded onto the popular music scene with—arguably—the release of their fourth album (and second signed album), Blurryface. My friend, who likes to remind me in typical hipster fashion that he saw them “before they were big” in the Orbit Room in Grand Rapids, was skeptical that their live performance (which had been energetic and intimate) would have changed due to their sudden success. Fortunately, this was not the case; their performance was as vibrant as ever, and the lead singer, Tyler Joseph, even concluded the show by assuring the screaming fans that the band would remain true to their original shtick and to their original fans. In addition, during the show, the band members moved to a mini stage in-between the pavilion and the lawn in order to interact with the fans who were far away from the main stage.

They opened the show with a cut version of their song “Fairly Local,” which worked as a nice tribute to the thousands of Michiganders present, given the band members’ Ohio origins. From there, they played many of their hits from Blurryface, as well as a few of their throwback hits from Vessel and even Regional at Best, including “Migraine,” “Car Radio,” “Ode to Sleep” and, as their encore finale, “Trees,” an excellent pick to finish their performance in a glorious blaze of electronic instrumentals, balladic crooning and, of course, Joseph’s signature scream. In addition, along with their openers, Mutemath and Chef’Special, Twenty One Pilots performed covers of “Twist and Shout” and “Jump Around.”

The show was extremely theatrical and interactive. At multiple points, the drummer, Josh Dun, performed on a platform suspended by the crowd’s upward-reaching arms, and at one point, Joseph rolled out onto the crowd in a giant red hamster ball. Dun performed his signature black flip off of the piano, too, which Joseph followed by jumping over the upright instrument. The duo also made multiple costume changes throughout the performance, paying homage to their many different themes, old and new, all while a spectacular light show and video display interjected at various points of the show.

It was so refreshing to see and hear a band that sounds as good live as it does on a recording. Joseph sang his heart out and played multiple instruments, including the piano and ukulele, but what really blew me away was Dun’s drumming ability. He played spectacularly for almost two hours straight with unrelenting intensity.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert and eagerly await Twenty One Pilots’ return to Michigan. If you ever have an opportunity to see them live, I highly recommend doing so.