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Concert review: Twenty One Pilots’ tour successfully unifies audience, balances theatricality

Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots took the stage at the Staples Center as a part of their “The Bandito Tour” on Friday night. Emerging in a black ski mask, Joseph finally revealed his face during the band’s performance of “Heavydirtysoul.” (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff)

"The Bandito Tour"

Staples Center

Friday, Nov. 1

By Brooke Cuzick

Nov. 2, 2019 7:29 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 4 at 12:01 a.m. 

Twenty One Pilots’ world of “Trench” came to life in a wash of yellow and forest green.

Lead singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun filled the Staples Center stage Friday as the latest part of their “The Bandito Tour.” Following the release of “Trench” in the fall of 2018, the show brought the worlds Twenty One Pilots created with the concept album along with its predecessor “Blurryface” to the crowd Friday evening. The balance of theatricality with intimacy combined to show “The Hype” around the band that went from basement fame to selling out a 21,000 seat arena.

Audience members donned fully in yellow and camouflage, per “Trench’s” aesthetic, buzzed anxiously awaiting the rise of the stage’s dark green curtain. The lights finally went dark – the gates then opened as a welcome into Twenty One Pilots’ fictional universe.

Silhouetted and standing atop an old car, Dun sported a yellow bandana covering the bottom half of his face next to Joseph wearing a black ski mask. The crowd’s cheers amplified as Dun raised a lit torch into the air and jumped down from the car, as a morphed voice boomed “Welcome to Trench,” leading into the bombastic first song “Jumpsuit.”

To start their show, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun emerged as silhouettes on top of an old car. Dun eventually stepped down from the car, leading audiences into the world of “Trench” with a lit torch as they transitioned into their first song. (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Starting off with a fast-paced blur, Joseph’s fast-talk rapping in “Levitate” and “Heavydirtysoul” led to fear that the show would pass by in the same speed. But with the progression of the latter song, and Joseph’s much-anticipated removal of his mask, it was clear the duo was not going to be rushing through their journey out of Dema – a fictional prison referenced throughout their latest LP – and into the safety of Trench.

[Related: Concert review: Panic! at the Disco melds theatrics with sentiment in indelible live show]

One of the most endearing parts of a Twenty One Pilots show is the clear and genuine love for their highly devoted fanbase, the “Skeleton Clique.” As the beginning of “The Hype” faded in over the speakers, Jumbotron screens played video footage of fans who had lined up outside the venue early before the show. Highlighting the clique members’ fan art, the tender moment tied in the storylines of “Trench” during which the presence of fans and family help Joseph and Dun escape the walls of Dema.

Mimicking the lines of the song, “Nice to know my kind will be on my side/ I don’t believe the hype,” Joseph further emphasized the inclusive message. He opened up about his love for the audience, ensuring every audience member knew how important they were by further claiming “You are all my kind” as the song came to a close.

Almost as if guiding the audience through the mental turmoil of escaping Dema, another voice echoed “Why do I kneel to these concepts? Tempted by control, controlled by temptations. Stay low, they say, stay low” in the darkness between songs. But the show never got lost in the potentially serious lyrical tones that ran throughout it. After the contemplative spoken word transition, Joseph appeared in the stage’s blue light with a floral cardigan draped over his face to playfully sing “Lane Boy” from their 2015 release “Blurryface.”

Throughout the song, the punchy power of Dun’s drumming was highlighted as he and his drum kit were elevated by the platform they stood on. Joseph playfully ran across the stage and the audience jumped in unison at his command as they steamrolled through the song followed by “Stressed Out” and “Heathens.”

Throughout the night, the talents of Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh Dun were highlighted as he and his drum kit sat upon a platform that would raise them both into the air above the stage. (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Continuing to pull from their “Trench” discography, the band played “Nico And The Niners.” The screens behind them projected a yellow background with the signature black vulture from the album’s cover dramatically flapping its wings. At the end of the song, Joseph asked those on the floor to split in half, creating an aisle for him to walk down, as he continued the song on the B stage at the other side of the venue.

[Related: Q&A: Waterparks’ Awsten Knight talks visual and musical conception behind latest album]

Once he arrived, Joseph took a moment to lament the pressures of a fast-moving show. In an attempt to slow it down, he shared a memory with Dun about their first paid gig. Playing a piano Joseph said he’d had since that initial show, the two were enveloped by hanging yellow and white light stalactites while they sang the tour’s titular track “Bandito.”

The song reached its bridge and the made-up language of Trench eerily echoed from the voices of thousands singing along with Joseph. He joined in with the crowd as everyone united to sing, “I created this world to feel some control/ destroy it if I want/ So I sing Sahlo Folina, Sahlo Folina.” The latter lyrics, as he previously stated, act as a cry for help among those in need.

After, the band returned to the main stage to perform “Pet Cheetah,” assisted by blasts of smoke and fireworks. The duo continued to drift through deeper cuts from their discography such as “Fall Away” from their first album and “Truce” from their sophomore release “Vessel.” An instrumental of the track played as Joseph and Dun left the stage, the crowd uniting to sing the lyrics that were projected on the screen – the entire group making a pact to “stay alive” through hardship.

For their signature closer “Trees,” Dun and Joseph climbed into the crowd. The entire venue flooded in white light and confetti as the two were literally held up by their fans on platforms to play drums together.

And with final looks at the crowd, Twenty One Pilots climbed from the mass of fans. Joseph and Dun took a conclusionary bow and left with one final note for the crowd: “We are Twenty One Pilots, and so are you.”

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Brooke Cuzick | Alumna
Cuzick previously served as a senior staff writing for Arts and Entertainment. She was the Music | Fine Arts editor from 2019-2020 and an A&E reporter from 2018-2019.
Cuzick previously served as a senior staff writing for Arts and Entertainment. She was the Music | Fine Arts editor from 2019-2020 and an A&E reporter from 2018-2019.
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