It’s rare to find a band where you can go to multiple shows, see the same set, and still feel like each night is a unique and memorable experience. This was my tenth Twenty One Pilots show and it still felt as important and fresh as the first time I saw them in a club with a few hundred other people. There’s no denying their arena shows are much different from their early shows in clubs and bars, but as their popularity exploded so has their showmanship. Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have the ability to connect with every audience member, even if they’re up in the nosebleeds a few hundred feet away, and that was on full display last weekend at the Wells Fargo Center.
After opening sets from Max Frost and Awolnation, the energy in the arena was palpable as a curtain covered the stage and the Fortnite intro music added to the anticipation (the OG Fortnite music). Finally the curtain dropped and drummer Josh Dun entered the stage holding a torch, making his way over to the drum kit. Tyler rose from beneath the stage onto an old car armed with his bass guitar and hiding behind his iconic ski mask as the crowd cheered relentlessly. The cheers were interrupted by the opening notes to “Jumpsuit,” the car was engulfed in flames, and the show began.
It seemed every song the duo had some sort of surprise planned for the crowd to keep them engaged and involved with the show. Whether it was Joseph disappearing from the stage only to reappear across the arena in the crowd for “Fairly Local,” or the entire drum set raised up in the crowd to feature Dun on drum solos, their showmanship was on full display. Joseph swapped the trench coat and bass for his floral kimono and ukulele for two songs off of Blurryface, “The Judge,” and “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV,” before making a dramatic journey across a catwalk to the smaller B stage they had set up towards the back of the arena.
They started the tradition of the B Stage on their last major tour, Emotional Roadshow, where they would play some older and slower songs on a small stage featuring just the piano and drum kit. Joseph took the time to engage with the crowd and thank them for coming out, gave a special shout-out to the older fans, and talked about his time learning the piano. The opening piano notes to “Taxi Cab,” rang out and I’ll admit I got really excited as I have never heard the full song live. “This is the first song I wrote that I rapped in the middle of,” Joseph commented right before the bridge and his rapping. They played two slower songs off of Trench, “Neon Gravestones,” and “Bandito,” while the stage was engulfed in mesmerizing lighting and designs. They made their way back to the stage via the catwalk again while “Pet Cheetah,” rang out and Joseph paused over the crowd to jump around and engage the crowd below him.
Joseph changed outfits again, this time returning to the stage donning a more simplistic outfit of a white sleeveless shirt and red beanie. He surveyed the crowd before choosing a spot and climbed on top of the sea of bodies and hands, and rapped the opening verse to “Holding on to You.” After the song Joseph invited the opening bands back on stage for some covers that included “Iris” from The Goo-Goo Dolls (the song Dun apparently used to wrestle his brothers to when they were young) and “Hey Jude” from The Beatles (the first song Joseph taught himself to play on the piano). They played two more songs off their most recent release that included Dun playing some of the song from the drum island held up by the crowd.
They finished the show with the song they have ended shows with for as long as I can remember, “Trees.” Before they started Joseph gave a little speech thanking the crowd again for coming and commenting that this “might” have been the best show so far this tour. Also he said that if he and Dun continue doing the finger gun wave on tour that it started here in Philadelphia. They finished the song on platforms in the crowd with yellow confetti raining down on the sea of bodies screaming for the two friends from Columbus, Ohio. This band is more than just their music, the amount of passion their fans have is unrivaled in today’s music world and that was on full display with fans dressing up, creating costumes in honor of Joseph and Dun. Twenty One Pilots is a way of life, a meaningful connection with the band and fans across the world sharing the same passion for the music and the band.