Ohio-based alternative band Twenty One Pilots performed in New Orleans on Thursday, the first time they’ve been back to the city since the 2014 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, and they were pulling out all the stops to celebrate.
Opening acts Judah & the Lion and John Bellion warmed up the crowd, but it was nothing compared to band members Tyler Joseph and Joshua Dun taking the stage. The audience heard a barely audible hum subtly transform into the opening chords of “Fairly Local” and immediately erupted into screams.
The visual and sound production — complete with LED screens, smoke machines and sounds emulating gunshots — could have captivated audiences alone.
Red lights illuminated the dark arena during songs from the band’s 2015 album “Blurryface,” while blue lights shone during songs from older albums like “Vessel” and the band’s self-titled album.
“The two times they ended the songs with gunshots and everything went black were insane,” psychology sophomore Sara Pohlman said. “I was literally shaking after each time, but it was exhilarating.”
Some might argue the band’s theatrics were merely distractions to make up for its lack of talent, but many fans disagree.
Both Joseph and Dun are multi-instrumentalists. Joseph wrote the album’s lyrics and composed its music. The band is constantly innovating and experimenting musically, which is why it is in a lane of its own.
However, the band’s appeal lies within the raw emotion it conveys through its music. The lyrics are vulnerable and honest, creating a bond between the band and fans.
The crowd was alive and united as they belted out lyrics like “My friends and I have problems,“ and “But I know, we’ve made it this far, kid.” In those moments, it was impossible to feel alone.
“My favorite part of the concert was being able to sing together with thousands of people who were all as passionate about and in love with their music as I am,” Pohlman said.
Joseph maintained this feeling of inclusivity by periodically checking on different areas of the whole crowd, not just the pit. At one point, the duo welcomed their opening acts back on stage and sang a medley consisting of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping,” Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” the Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is the Love” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around.”
The band used the entire arena as its stage. One act included a man, assumed to be Joseph, wearing a signature Twenty One Pilots mask playing the piano on stage. A spotlight abruptly turned to the upper 300 level seating of the arena where the real Joseph appeared, sending the audience into a well-deserved frenzy.
Some of the night’s most emotional songs, including “Addict with a Pen” and a cover of My Chemical Romance’s “Cancer,” were played on a makeshift stage at the opposite end of the pit, far from the main stage.
The fans weren’t the only ones who felt the magic.
“This city is one of the most amazing, alive, magical cities we’ve ever played in,” Joseph said. “We had the honor of walking around not long ago. People always talk about how the music here can affect you and influence you, and I didn’t understand what they meant until today.”
The band’s antics, which included Dun playing the drums on a platform held up by members of the pit and Bellion in a hamster ball, ran rampant until the very end. Even the encore had fans on the edge of their seats, perhaps a little more than Dun and Joseph intended.
There was about a ten minute break between the encore song “Trees” and the previous song “Car Radio.” When the duo came back on stage, Joseph made sure to explain this was because of technical difficulties and that they were not getting massages during the encore as a band they once opened for used to do.
Joseph addressed the fans one last time as the night came to a close, “We are Twenty One Pilots, and so are you.”
The show ended as any celebration should — with tons of confetti.