21 Pilots Soar at United Center
Ski masks, skeleton suit onesies, backflips off the piano, guys in hazmat suits spraying fog, crowd-surfing in a giant inflatable hamster ball, a live game of Mario Kart - the Twenty One Pilots concert at United Center was an enjoyable hot mess with one crazy stunt following another and consistently high energy music.
Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, the duo - lead vocalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun - were on tour for their latest chart-topping album Blurryface. The album is hard to pin down, jumping between hip hop, angsty alt-rock, indie pop and reggae, with lyrics exploring the anxieties of growing up and the constraints of society, delivered in spitfire rap or a slightly nasal sing song.
Their live performance is imbued with an irrepressible physicality that reflected the album's restless energy. Joseph and Dun "disappear" from the stage to pop up halfway across the stadium, crowd-surf (drum set included), and jump on and off the piano like it was a stepping stool. They began their set with an explosive rendition of "Heavydirtysoul", storming the stage in ski masks and blazers, and ending with an unexpected gunshot sound. The duo alternated between more intense songs with aggressive baselines and ukulele/piano driven ballads from Blurryface and older songs from Vessel. Live, the slinky lethalness of "Heathens" from Suicide Squad took on an extra skin-crawling dimension. The audience - a mix of pre-teen boys with pink mohawks accompanied by their parents and 20-somethings clutching cups of beer - began to sing along loudly to the nostalgic lyrics of "Stressed Out".
The intensity of the performance was matched by the creative visuals. As Joseph danced around the stage, the screens displayed dizzying graphics - bloody rabbits running through forests, skulls with gaping mouths, floral rose patterns, falling bookshelves - and live footage of the band. The pair frequently changed their costume, from a chill Hawaii floral kimono, sunglasses and ukulele to skeleton onesies to blazers with ski mask, matching the mercurial nature of the music.
Filled with wild stunts and consuming music, the Twenty One pilots concert was one hell of a ride from takeoff to landing.
Check out Blurryface:
Photos via Alexia Bacigalupi
Feature image via