With many fans lining up for days just to see them, the Ohio band played its first U.S. show of 2019 at Van Andel Arena on Friday. Check out the review, photos of “The Bandito Tour” stop.
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Twenty One Pilots fans are a dedicated bunch.
Just how dedicated?
“We’ve been camping here since Sunday morning,” said AJ Bauman of Cleveland, Ohio, who traveled to Grand Rapids with a large group of friends to catch Friday night’s jam-packed Twenty One Pilots concert at Van Andel Arena.
“We’re just looking forward to seeing the boys again, it’s been at least a year-and-a-half since we’ve been to a show.”
Many lined up for the show felt the same way, considering it was Twenty One Pilots’ first show on U.S. soil since last November (after kicking off this leg Tuesday in Toronto, Canada).
And the Columbus alt-pop sensation didn’t disappoint.
Brooklyn, N.Y. indie-rock band Bear Hands had fun hyping up the crowd to open the night — a performance highlighted by dedicating its song “Blue Lips” to female fans — but the near-capacity crowd clearly lwas hungry for the main act.
The duo of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun captivated the crowd, making it clear that they’ve become masters of their craft in the six years since their first headlining tour.
Splitting the show between two stages, an elevated walkway and multiple rising platforms, the band moved between set pieces like magicians, the best moment of which was an astounding sleight-of-hand trick: Frontman Joseph disappeared from the stage during “Fairly Local” only to reappear moments later in the upper bowl of the arena.
FOCUSING ON THE NEW ALBUM, FINDING SUPPORT FROM FERVENT FANS
The band’s set wasn’t quite an equal mix of old and new. They played all 14 songs from their new album, “Trench,” and only nine tracks from other albums. But the fans and the band seem to prefer it that way.
Many of the gathered devotees sported a strange sort of uniform — black and camouflage, accentuated with bright pops of yellow bandanas, bracelets and, most popularly, yellow gaffer tape.
“It represents the concept of safety and feeling safe,” fan Brianna Brown of Birmingham, Ala., explained. “It’s part of the story of ‘Trench,’ and black and yellow are the colors of this era.”
The stage show was artfully crafted and engaging. Twenty One Pilots used simple but effective visual cues to draw clear lines in the sand between each of the band’s eras. Songs from the band’s breakout album “Blurryface” covered the stage in red, black and white, as opposed to Yellow for “Trench.”
The band also shifted effortlessly between moods, balancing heavier moments like “Legend” dedicated in memory of Joseph’s grandfather, with lighthearted moments like drummer Dun uncorking a White Stripes-tribute-paying drum solo while a voiceover declared, “NOT DONE, NOT DONE, JOSH DUN.”
And Twenty One Pilots paid back its fans’ intense dedication by intimately involving them in the show. Joseph’s banter with the crowd was both witty and sincere, and the duo demonstrated an immense trust in their fans by being held up by a sea of hands while performing not just once, but on three separate occasions throughout the set.
After ending the main set with fan favorite “Car Radio,” the band closed out its encore with another dramatic — and literal — demonstration of Twenty One Pilots’ fervent fan support: band members ascended to drum platforms for the song “Trees” held up by audience members and audience members alone.
PHOTO GALLERY: Twenty One Pilots, Bear Hands at Van Andel Arena
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC