Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Twenty One Pilots @ The Tower Theater - Upper Darby, PA 09/27/14

My Introduction to Twenty One Pilots started with one song.

And I hated it.

The song was 'House of Gold'.  It was on a constant loop on local alternative radio stations.  It reminded me of homogenized sound of todays adult contemporary.  It could have Mumford and Sons for all I new.  With the amount of plays it was getting people obviously liked it.  I dismissed it and moved on. 

The weird thing about dismissing something is that sometimes it just doesn't let you.  The name kept popping up.  It kept getting mentioned. Their shows were selling out everywhere.  Why?  What was I missing?!?  I gave in and explored.

There were a couple of things that were surprising to me.  First was that this band was a duo.  Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun from Columbus, OH.  Their sound seemed much larger than a two piece, especially that one is a drummer.  Secondly, that this album was released at the beginning of 2013.  So apparently they were gaining momentum.  Most of this due to the legend of their live performances.  Again, this surprised me as a two piece unit.  I queued up their new release and threw it in shuffle.  The first song that played was 'Car Radio'.

The track blew my mind.  It wasn't anything that I expected.  Tyler's rapping style is like trying to follow a manic, inner dialogue.  I wanted to hear it again but instead I moved on.  Every song hit me with something a little different.  Nothing was what I expected.  Tyler's versatility as a rapper, a singer, and a screamer were impressive.  At times they sound like fun., at times like Eminem, at times like a dance party.  There are keyboards, incredible drum beats and even Ukuleles.  I was incredibly intrigued.  Even the lyrics were smart and intriguing. 
"I ponder of something great
My lungs will fill and then deflate
They fill with fire
Exhale desire
I know it's dire
My time today

I have these thoughts
So often I ought
To replace that slot
With what I once bought
'Cause somebody stole
My car radio
And now I just sit in silence

Sometimes quiet is violent
I find it hard to hide it
My pride is no longer inside
It's on my sleeve
My skin will scream
Reminding me of
Who I killed inside my dream
I hate this car that I'm driving
There's no hiding for me
I'm forced to deal with what I feel
There is no distraction to mask what is real
I could pull the steering wheel"

There was only one thing left to do.  That was to see their legendary live show.

They were playing The Tower Theater right outside of Philadelphia and they managed to sell out two shows.  Both shows were to be general admission so there was going to be a good crowd.  The day before the concert I started to feel sick but I was hoping that is was just allergies.  The morning of the concert I felt horrible.  I loaded up on medicine and decided that maybe I didn't need to see the opening acts, who where Vinyl Theater and MisterWives.  After listening to MisterWives I decided that maybe I just didn't need to see Vinyl Theater.

The doors were opening at 6:30.  General Admission shows at the Tower will boast a line 3 blocks long waiting to get in.  I got there promptly at 8:15.  I did find out then when the lot is close to full they stop charging for parking.  I got a close spot for free and headed over.  When I saw the marquee I was a little concerned.

No MisterWives!!!  Was I missing Twenty One Pilots???  I hurried inside and was relieved to see that Vinyl Theater was finishing their last song.  The floor was already jam packed and with a cold I was not ready for that adventure.  I grabbed a seat directly behind the soundboard.  This guaranteed two things.  One that the sound is always best by the soundboards.  Secondly, no one could stand in front of me and block my view. 

At 9:00 they hit the stage and I can not remember the last show that I saw that the crowd went this crazy.  The theater exploded.  The crowd were frenzied!  Twenty One Pilots opened up with 'Guns for Hands'.  They were wearing the their signature masks.  I think that every single person in attendance was singing along word for word.

Josh's drumming was incredible to watch.  It was as though he was sitting on a spring.  His arms would come high over his head and play complex beats with energy and precision.  You could only imagine how much he loves doing what he does by how he plays.  When they went into 'Migraine' the crowd took it up another notch.  Tyler was running the stage like a lion stalking prey all while delivering with pin point accuracy.  Each song ratcheted the energy up to the next level.  Especially when the they hit 'Ode to Sleep' which was actually named by audience at one of their shows.  Every one got to right down a name and put it in a bowl. 

When Tyler brought out the Ukulele out I think we all knew what was coming next.  'Screen' was next followed medley of covers that were played while conversing with an invisible ghost .  It was awesome hearing 'All I Do is Win' and 'Can't Help Falling in Love'.  When they played 'House of Gold' the place erupted.

They played some older material next which is just as good. It is not filler at all.  It deserves its place in the show.

The rest of the show was filled with crazy energy.  Josh and Tyler jumping on and off the risers and piano.  Josh doing backflips.  Tyler running the stage.  Provoking the crowd to have fun. 

It was fun to watch how Josh and Tyler played off of each other. I once wrote that Lorde's 3 person show was too small for the Tower.  The Twenty One Pilots two person show was too big for the Tower.

At one point during the show they brought out a drum set attached to a platform.  They put it in the crowd and they held it up as Josh played.

They finished the show with a cover of Lana Del Rey's 'Summertime Sadness'.  Tyler adlibbed some kind words about the City of Brotherly Love.  The show had finished but the narrator assured us that there were more songs to be had.  I know what songs I wanted to hear but I had not heard them yet.  When they rushed the stage they hit us with 'Car Radio'.  The song was penned after Tyler's car stereo was actually stolen.  It is a narration of one being left to their own silence.  At one point during the song Tyler disappeared and starting singing on the Balcony.   Next was 'Truce' followed by 'Trees'.  This time two platforms were brought out an both Tyler and Josh played drums while being help up by the crowd.

And then it was over.  I felt as though I had just had a revelation.  I almost forgot I was sick.  I could see how the legend of their stage show has grown.  I can't imagine having to have gone to see Neon Trees and Walk the Moon to be blown away by this opening act.  I was energized and I had to tell the world about it.  So I went to Twitter.  I wasn't the only one.

Wendy Rollins from our Philadelphia's Radio 104.5, who introduced Twenty One Pilots that night agreed.  I would imagine that on a night like this it's great to love what you do.  We agreed that their talent, energy, love, and intensity was unmatched.

I am now a fan.  It this is a show that I would definitely see again.  I can't say that about a lot of the shows that I have seen.  And for the record, I now love 'House of Gold'

See you at the next show!


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