TWENTY ONE PILOTS
A CLIQUE’S-EYE VIEW OF THEIR COMEBACK. CONTAINS UKULELES
Twenty one pilots know how to make an entrance, and not just onstage. When the Ohio duo come to town, hysteria stretches beyond the confines of the venue in which they’re headlining. Tonight, this happens across a mile radius surrounding the O2 Academy Brixton – from the trees outside the tube station being plastered in yellow tape, to scatterings of new album Trench branding along pavements, walls and anything else with a flat surface. Fans (some of whom have been camping out for four days) have welcomed in this still-mysterious new era before it’s properly begun.
The band’s actual arrival is even more spectacular. Skulking out for their first gig in over a year (444 days, if you want to get really precise), Josh Dun appears first, bathed under a dim red light. With a lit-up fire torch in hand, the drummer eyes the crowd, before taking to his kit to the sound of 5,000 high-pitched screams. The stage itself is next, with a burnt-out car from the band’s 2017 Heavydirtysoul video going up in flames beneath a black backdrop. More screams.
Finally it’s Tyler Joseph’s turn, the frontman emerging between the vehicle’s blaze. As he hops down and grabs his bass to launch into the explosive Jumpsuit, it’s as if they never left.
With the first-song nerves out of the way, Levitate and the green, blue and purple-laserfilled Heathens follow. As the Suicide Squad single reaches its peak, you can practically see the pentup tension escape Tyler’s body as he stumbles around the stage, totally in the zone, catharsis flowing whichever way required.
As he changes into his Blurryface sunglasses and floral kimono, the frontman pauses to admire the dedication fans have already shown in embracing Trench’s striking imagery. “I’ve gotta be honest with you, there are quite a few windows from inside [the venue] to outside, and there were quite a few times I looked out at you, and you didn’t even know it,” he grins. “And I’ve gotta say: you guys look absolutely fantastic.”
Never a band to give away too much, too soon, twenty one pilots gradually resort back to a few older – but no less thrilling – tricks: CO2 cannons blasting through Lane Boy; Josh backflipping off of the piano during Holding On To You; and Tyler scaling the venue screaming Car Radio’s ‘and now I just sit in silence’ refrain for those seated in the balcony. Sure, they’ve done it before – but why would you want a one-off date to spoil what’s to come from their full arena tour next year?
The night ends as it always does: with Tyler and Josh joining forces to perform Trees’ drum solo on top of the crowd. More cannons erupt behind them. Yellow confetti covers the venue. “We are twenty one pilots, and so are you,” Tyler smiles to an overwhelmed audience. It turns out they make one hell of an exit, too. EMILY CARTER
twenty one pilots: singlehandedly solving the problem to Brixton’s strict parking policy