At every show you go to there are opening bands that are nice and pass the time. And then there are opening bands that are so shockingly good they make you worry for how the headliner’s going to be able to follow them. For the past two years, that has been twenty|one|pilots.
Columbus natives Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun formed twenty|one|pilots in 2009 and have been creating a family-like fan base ever since, recently opening for such acts as Paramore, Walk the Moon and Neon Trees. They are well aware that there are only two guys onstage – not 21 (the name is a reference All My Sons, a play by Arthur Miller). Their high energy could top 21 other artists easily though; if you want to consume this “psych-pop” duo at their prime, see them perform live.
The need these guys have for putting on an unforgettable show is palpable and hits you like it hurts. They compete to see who will have the most energy on stage, and there is never a clear-cut winner. Tyler jumps off a piano. Josh flips off the piano. Tyler screams his soul into the microphone and Josh beats the crap out of his drums. Try getting bored at a show where the members of the band play on platforms held up by the audience. They never fail to amaze.
Their music is not all about their tricks on stage. They could pull off a show without any gimmicks, with the straight and raw words of Tyler Joseph’s demons. It sounds emotional because it is emotional. It’s real. Hit up their self-titled first album and listen to “Addict With a Pen”; his confessions are humbling and his vulnerability is refreshing. In an era of pop music that hides behind drugs and uses blurred lines as scapegoats, we finally hear something real with twenty|one|pilots. Their music is a call to action, a call for honesty and community, spoken best in “Forest”.
Whether it’s from the first album, sophomore album, or occasional covers of “This is How We Do It” or “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, twenty|one|pilots is a band to pay attention to. The coming fall ends their current tour with Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco before a headlining tour around the globe.
They’re playing at the Breakaway Fest in Columbus today; pair this duo with Porter Robinson and Robert DeLong (who they’ll begin touring with this October), and you’ve got yourself one good day in Ohio.