Twenty One Pilots Demonstrate Their Staying Power at a Sold-Out Pavilion

Twenty One Pilots
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
July 5, 2016

A little more than a year since the release of their chart-topping fourth album, Blurryface, Twenty One Pilots returned to Houston Tuesday night to headline a sold-out Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Serving as both the album's namesake and the moniker for vocalist Tyler Joseph's despondent alter ego, Blurryface has birthed two well-received singles for the band: “Stressed Out” and “Ride.” Between the two, newcomers can hear a fairly accurate representation of the Ohio duo's unique brand of music, which combines pop choruses with rap and spoken-word verses above an amalgam of instrumentation.

But despite its overall bubbly and catchy sound, Twenty One Pilots' catalog surpasses the rest of the songs making their rounds on the radio through candid, introspective lyricism. That's their niche, and it's why fans are flocking toward them.

Joseph lays himself bare emotionally, sharing his innermost demons with listeners in hopes that they join him in fighting against their own emotional hangups while Josh Dun keeps the beat going with energetic percussion and the occasional trumpet solo.

Tuesday's sold-out performance served as a testament to the band's staying power as they forged a strong connection with the sold-out crowd for nearly 90 minutes through a set list spanning almost 30 songs.

Beginning their set with a refrain from “Fairly Local,” the band segued into “Heavydirtysoul,” which saw Joseph rapping breathlessly as Dun worked up a sweat on the drums. Shortly thereafter, Joseph took a seat at his piano and serenaded the crowd from behind the keys before retrieving his ukulele for “House of Gold.”

Less than 30 minutes into the show, a blanket was drawn over Joseph's head and he disappeared beneath the stage before re-emerging atop the concessions stand at the back of the venue.

Under the cover of darkness, he and Dun later retreated backstage before resurfacing atop the soundboard, smack-dab in the middle of the Pavilion, where they rapidly tore through six choruses from their lesser-known self-titled record.

Openers MUTEMATH and Chef'Special joined the band onstage for covers of the Top Notes' “Twist & Shout,” Celine Dion's “My Heart Will Go On,” Justin Bieber's “Love Yourself” — which Joseph admitted he loved — and House of Pain's “Jump Around.”

By the end of the night, both the band and the crowd were a sweaty mess, having braved a typical Houston summer night. But between the music, the atmosphere and the theatrics, Twenty One Pilots gave fans their money's worth and then some.

For a band whose lyrics are so entrenched in the concepts of depression and death, Twenty One Pilots sure do put on quite an entertaining and upbeat show. As many of their songs opine, finding an answer isn't usually easy, but coming together as a group can help all of us subdue our demons.

It also serves as a reminder that we're all on this ride together, so we might as well take our time.

Fairly Local
House of Gold
We Don't Believe What's On TV
The Judge
Lane Boy
Ode To Sleep
The Pantaloon/Fall Away/Johnny Boy/Forest/Addict With A Pen/March To Sea
Kitchen Sink
Holding On To You
Twist & Shout (The Top Notes cover)
My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion cover)
Love Yourself (Justin Bieber cover)
Jump Around (House of Pain cover)
Stressed Out
Guns For Hands
Tear In My Heart
Car Radio

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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever