Twenty One Pilots Didn't Disappoint During Their Spectacle of a Performance in SLC

If you happened to find yourself driving downtown in Salt Lake City on the night of Tuesday, October 13th then you probably wondered why on earth there were so many excited civilians walking around with bright yellow duct tape strapped to their clothes. Well you’re in luck, because I have the answer: Twenty One Pilots.

The alternative rock duo Twenty One Pilots rocked the Vivint Smart Home Arena on Tuesday night to a sold-out audience of thousands of Banditos. That’s right, Banditos. As the alternative rock groups’ boisterous world tour is named “The Bandito Tour” it’s only right to call their extremely loyal fans--usually referred to as the skeleton clique--the Banditos.​

Fans eagerly awaited the band's return from a year-long hiatus and social media silence after their last Blurryface-era ‘Tour de Columbus’ show. On July 11th, 2018, fans woke up to the release of two new singles from the band, “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners”. What soon followed was the release of their fifth studio album Trench in early October and the announcement of their global “The Bandito Tour”. The tour’s vibrant set list mixes reggae with rock, indie with rap, and old songs with new.

Starting off the set list was the duo's much anticipated first single from their new album, “Jumpsuit”. Drummer Josh Dun came shrouded in full Bandito gear, entering the dark stage with a flamed torch. A black car scorched with flames rose from below the stage, with none other than masked vocalist Tyler Joseph rising with it. Flames licked at his heels as he jumped from the top of the car, beginning the electrifying bass of “Jumpsuit”. With a forceful bass riff and echoing vocals, the song pumped up the crowd instantaneously.

As “Jumpsuit” came to an end, the song "Levitate" began, a head-bopping rap of a song that vocalizes the escape from feelings of doubt and anxieties, among other things, in the form that: “you can learn to levitate with just a little help”. The two songs’ ending and beginning mesh together, giving a continuous feel to the start of the song, and an exhilarating experience.

One of the most memorable parts of the band’s performance came in the next song, “Fairly Local” a Blurryface-era concert favorite. The mysterious yet familiar start of the track was a great shift into the next set of songs from the band. As the song drew near its end, Joseph suddenly falls backwards into a pit on stage. With Joseph out of sight and covered in darkness, the audience is left baffled as they wonder: “where on earth did TyJo go?” Prepare to be dazzled, because Tyler Joseph just pulled off a magic trick all on his own. Well, with the help of several people from the tour's talented crew. Out of nowhere, Mr. Joseph appears from a beaming spotlight, on the other side of the arena! In the nosebleed section mind you!

If I was the unsuspecting fan who bought a seat in that row of the show, you can bet I’d freak out, (and I did, I also went to the first show of the tour in Nashville!) Concert goers, myself included, where a bit skeptical if it was actually the Tyler Joseph’s presence we were being graced with, as his face was covered in his white ski mask. But, they were in for a shock as Joseph finished singing, where he ripped off his mask, revealing the magnificent TyJo in all his glory. You can check out Tyler's wicked teleporting skills here.

As if that wasn't exhilarating enough, there was also the hyper-stimulating, head pounding performance of Josh Dun during “Morph” where he crowd-surfed with his drums. Yep, you read that right. Crowd-surfed his drums. The outro of “Morph” brought fans who knew the song by heart the climactic triumph that is ‘Josh Dun on The Drums’. The crowd of fans in the pit gathered to hold steady the platform that held Dun and his drum set. With the proclamation towards the end of “Morph” that the song is “not done”, the final lyric of the song: “Josh Dun” is truthful in every sense. As the audience screams his name in song, and in sync, Dun breaks out into a passionate and massively thrilling drum solo. Pounding out every ounce of emotion he had into those drums.

A hilarious moment from the show, one given only to Salt Lake City audiences, came when a glow in the dark, green alien balloon was being tossed about the crowd. Tyler Joseph took to the mic to request the balloon be sent over to him on stage. Fans tossed the balloon up to Tyler, who popped the distracting balloon in triumph. 

Playfully scolding the crowd with a "NO!" Tyler walks away in victory, only for another alien-themed balloon to reappear. Tyler's hilarious response: "Are you serious?" sent the audience into laughter. Luckily, a loyal fan took charge and popped the second balloon, much to Tyler's and the audience's cheers of gratitude. Watch the hilarious encounter here

The band's performance also had some reflective and somber tones as the boys took their performance to the smaller B-stage. Notably, they did this in epic twenty one pilots fashion, walking across a bridge over the pit, that lowered from the ceiling (!!!) to the more intimate platform.  

From there, the boys took on a calmer presence, old songs and new, asking the audience to take a seat, (as their fathers had requested they put a seated break into their performance so the dads could rest their feet). The band played some of their most emotional songs, including the ageless “Taxi Cab” the new and relaxing “Bandito” and most notably “Neon Gravestones”.

“Neon Gravestones” confronts the problem with society’s glorification of suicide and mental illness. Emphasizing society and the media’s acknowledgement and respect to suicide victims only after it’s too late. Primarily, in the constant media coverage of celebrity suicides. Tyler writes:

“My opinion

Our culture can treat a loss

Like it's a win and right before we turn on them

We give them the highest of praise, and hang their banner from a ceiling

Communicating, further engraving

An earlier grave is an optional way

No”

You can listen to "Neon Gravestones" here.

Twenty one pilots have always been very open in their songs about suicide and mental illness and they surely don’t shy away from it in “Neon Gravestones”. This piece puts aside the band's beautiful metaphors and turns to a blunt and straightforward approach in a plea for audiences to listen to a message that needs to be heard and acknowledged, all fear and scrutiny put aside. The song ends with a hopeful piece of advice, a request from Tyler himself:

“I'm not disrespecting what was left behind

Just pleading that "it" does not get glorified

Maybe we swap out what it is that we hold so high

Find your grandparents or someone of age

Pay some respects for the path that they paved

To life, they were dedicated

Now, that should be celebrated”

A piece of advice we could all take. To glorify life, not death.

Twenty one pilots surely outdid themselves with the heart-pumping (and dropping) performances from The Bandito Tour. Did fans even think it to be possible? Performing more thrilling and memorable songs, including mega-hit “Stressed Out”, audience inclusive “Lane Boy”, fan-favorite “Car Radio” and many more, the band brought the visuals (thanks to the amazing tech and crew) and piled the emotions high with their performance of “Leave the City”.

As the show came closing to an end, the band wasn't quite done yet, with an encore performance of “Trees”, a song the band plays last for a reason. The song’s performance builds up the crowd and their emotions to an uplifting high point, the two playing off the energy in an almost cathartic way. And as the passionate, demanding beats of Josh Dun’s drums echo through, the emotion-filled screams of Tyler Joseph's last lyric of the night, “hello” ring through the audience, you can’t help but look up to the skies of bright yellow confetti raining down on the crowd and listen to what the words really mean. “Hello” in promise of the start of a new day.

One thing is for sure, those lyrics rang true that night.

 

Photo Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 67, 8, 9, 10, 11