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The Chainsmokers played a visually dizzying set last night at Toyota Center.EXPAND
The Chainsmokers played a visually dizzying set last night at Toyota Center.
Photo by Robyn Tuazon

The Chainsmokers Bring World War Joy Tour and Sensory Overload to Toyota Center

Only at a Chainsmokers concert would you see a reckless, howling, Millennial couple suitably drunk on a Saturday night just rows in front of a seated family of four trying to make sense of the event. Maybe that’s The Chainsmokers' appeal. Like nursery rhymes, their songs are digestible enough for younger ears that thrive on repetition void of any melodic range, and their desensitized frat-bro lyrics might cater to Midtown's finest. Factor in enough pyro for a small town Independence Day celebration (an alternate name for the act could have been The Fire Marshal Whisperers) and thunderous rattling to, of course, make the bass drop, and the teenagers in the house probably feel like they've made it into a club. It's all part of the recipe for last night's extravagant, undersold, electric party at the Toyota Center.

"Welcome to the circus," said lead singer Drew Taggart, perched atop a levitating catwalk at an uphill angle not for the faint of heart during Sick Boy cut "Everybody Hates Me." Considering how much of the night's vocals were possibly mimed, calling Taggart a lead singer, or a singer, is a stretch. Hype man, stuntman, daredevil entertainer are more appropriate hyphenates for this half of the electronic duo (the other half, Alex Pall, remained stationary behind a massive rig of synth pads and keyboards for the majority of the night).

They may not have brought in the numbers like they did at RodeoHouston, but last night's crowd was ready to party.EXPAND
They may not have brought in the numbers like they did at RodeoHouston, but last night's crowd was ready to party.
Photo by Robyn Tuazon

During "Sick Boy," Taggart ran around a hovering, prison iron orb like a rat in a cage. Later in the show, motorcycles would defy gravity, zooming in circles around that same cage. By set's end, Taggart had climbed to the top of a staircase built into a lighting rig some 40 feet in the air, seemingly just to stand inside the stairs' pyrotechnics.

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Their World War Joy Tour mixed pure DJ moments from the duo, transporting last night's crowd to any of one of the festivals the act has become accustomed to headlining in recent years, with their most recognizable, inescapable radio hits of late like "Closer," "Paris," "Roses," and an especially entertaining take of "Don't Let Me Down," complete with a jumping crowd, smoke cannons, and big screen imagery of an avatar singing along to Daya's featured vocals.

5 Seconds of Summer played a nearly hour-long set ahead of The Chainsmokers' headlining slot.EXPAND
5 Seconds of Summer played a nearly hour-long set ahead of The Chainsmokers' headlining slot.
Photo by Robyn Tuazon

An extended performance of more recent mainstream fare "Who Do You Love" brought out special guests 5 Seconds of Summer, for a euphoric, high-testosterone set highlight. Prior to The Chainsmokers main set, 5SOS warmed up the enthused crowd with their Australian pop-punk offerings with hits like "Teeth," "Youngblood," and Nine Inch Nails influenced "Easier."

Last night's first opening act Lennon Stella warmed up the crowd, both in the seats and on the concourse, with mid-tempo pop cuts like "Fortress" and "La Di Da."EXPAND
Last night's first opening act Lennon Stella warmed up the crowd, both in the seats and on the concourse, with mid-tempo pop cuts like "Fortress" and "La Di Da."
Photo by Robyn Tuazon

It wasn't The Chainsmokers' only collaboration of the night, however. During opening number "Takeaway," they welcomed the night's first opening act Lennon Stella to the festivities, who, like Taggart, seemed to be phoning in her vocals, which is a shame given the luring timbre of her voice.

Before launching into their Coldplay-assisted "Something Just Like This" mega-hit, Taggart found a breather in an anecdote about recording the song with one of the biggest bands on the planet that involved flying to Malibu, a studio overlooking the ocean, sliced mangos, and cheese spreads drizzled in honey. It was relatable  a nice story, but why did Taggart have to ask "You know what I'm talking about?" in the middle of it?

Chances are, little to none in the audience knew what he was talking about. But somewhere deep down, seeing The Chainsmokers' Instagram come to life in the form of lasers, smoke and mirrors, and a music business urban legend that flexed so hard it detailed Chris Martin's Air Force Ones and his scarf might just have been what the crowd paid to see all along. 

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