Twenty One Pilots at House of Blues, 11/15/2013
Photos by Matthew Keever
Twenty One Pilots House of Blues November 15, 2013
Music has a funny way of making things seem grandiose, bigger than they actually are.
"I was at a church, and this guy was saying something," said Tyler Joseph from the stage at House of Blues, softly the playing piano as he spoke. "I don't know what he was saying, but it sounded like the most epic thing I had ever heard... And I didn't know why. Then I look over, and there's this sweet, little old lady playing the piano underneath his voice. You see, when you play music behind what someone's saying, it sounds really epic.
"But when you stop," he continued, as the melodic sounds accompanying his words abruptly ceased. "It's actually really awkward."
The crowd roared with laughter and applause as Joseph and drummer Joshua Dun began to play again and transitioned into "Trees" off this year's Vessel, Twenty One Pilots' debut release under the Fueled by Ramen umbrella. At this point, about 45 minutes into the show, the Ohio-based indie-rock/-rap duo had the crowd in the palm of their collective hand.
Friday night, Twenty One Pilots performed over an hour of self-declared "weird music," which included a keytar, a ukulele, piano, plenty of percussion and a lot of interaction with the crowd. They began their set in ski masks, changed into skeleton hoodies and eventually Joseph was wearing a pillowcase while Dun flaunted his abs. Though only at about half-capacity, the crowd was not lacking in enthusiasm.
Theirs is a sound that is difficult to describe, part indie-rock with a rap verse or two peppered into every song and occasional electronic undertones. Friday night was filled with singalongs, dancing and two fans (both named Jacob) who helped Twenty One Pilots hype the crowd further. The backbone of it all are the band's lyrics, which abound with messages of hope, resilience and sticking together as we all try to figure out this whole life thing.
"There has to be a point to this," Joseph said, near the end of the show. "If this is all for nothing, can it be? It can't be... It cannot be."
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He stopped just short of saying what that point might be, instead leaving interpretation up to the fans.
"You might forget this night, but I want you to know that there's a point to this," he said. "I also want you to know that, if you'll have us, we would love to be invited to come back.
"Until then, let's figure out this moment together."
Seamlessly transitioning into "Trees," a soft ballad off Vessel, the duo then disappeared backstage. But this wasn't the end of Twenty One Pilots, who ended their set the same way they began it, with a bang. Walking out onto the crowd's hands, Joseph and Dun had fans hold their drums as they performed a final hoorah to the delight of the crowd, who would have been happy to hold them up for another song or two.
Personal Bias: A friend introduced me to their music a few months back, and I dug what I heard. And these guys are even better live.
Overheard In the Crowd: "So 002 and Houston Press... Is that the same thing?"
Random Notebook Dump: Who says white boys can't rap? Joseph has got mad skills.
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