Twenty one pilots is a band from Ohio, USA, composed of Tyler Joseph (singer, pianist) and Josh Dun (drummer). Their peculiar genre works very well with the message they carry. Indeed, most of twenty one pilots’s lyrics deal with mental illness and suicide, and they manage to form a deep connection to their audience. For that reason, we were eager to see them again, as this link shines through their live performances.
During the show, there was quite an even repartition of songs from their last albums,Vessel and Blurryface, with some older songs thrown in during a piano/drums medley. Although it is a very good setlist, it was quite unfortunate that it was the same one they played back in November.
Despite that there was no sense of repetition, even to people who had also seen them at the end of last year. Being only two onstage, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have to be very energetic and they manage to do so in a very impressive way, going as far as to play on the audience and on the balconies. They controlled the crowd with ease as they made them sing, dance, jump, and even carry the person next to them on their shoulders. They also tried their best to please the French fans by trying to sing a few words in French – and it worked beautifully.
As previously stated, twenty one pilots’s lyrics are about struggling with depression and anxiety amongst others, but they are so hopeful that they manage to make a crowd scream “We’re broken people”, a confident cry, knowing that for the evening they are with people who feel like them. These topics resonate with the fans who take the message and transform it through art and projects. For instance, the FPE Project (which stands for “the Few, the Proud, the Emotional”, a reference to their song Fairly Local) has spread throughout the world. Its goal is to show the band that the fans support them as much as they support the fans. It also creates a bigger sense of community between people who share the same difficulties.
“Today’s teenagers are 38 percent more likely to report problems with memory compared with their 1980s counterparts. They are also 74 percent more likely to have trouble sleeping and twice as likely to have seen a specialist for mental health issues. Contemporary college students in the study were 50 percent more likely to admit that they felt overwhelmed, while adults were more likely to say that they were restless sleepers, had a poor appetite and that, on top of that, everything else was an effort. All of these issues are often manifestations of depression.”
– BLASZCZAK-BOXE Agatha, Americans more depressed now than decades ago, CBSNews (October 2014).
The band is very aware of what they represent to their audience, and they also play with the line between themselves and their music – hiding their faces behind masks to better deliver their message, they put their focus on the music, on the lyrics, on the fans. Their first album Twenty One Pilots was used by Tyler Joseph to exteriorise his mental issues. When he saw how his lyrics touched people, he decided to build an aesthetic around them. Thus on stage he adopts a persona to become a spokesperson, voicing the fears and hopes of a generation. Blurryface, their last album, really plays on that last aspect with the creation of an eponymous character who embodies the band’s and the fan’s negative views on themselves.
The rapid expansion of their fanbase really shows a need for representation amongst millenials all over the world. Yet, they constantly refer to their hometown. They named one of their songs Hometown and released a vinyl shaped like Ohio. All in all, the message they delivered to a handful of people at their first show grew bigger and touched more people worldwide.
“We are twenty one pilots and so are you”
2 Stressed Out (Piano Outro)
3 Guns For Hands
6 House Of Gold (Intro)
7 We Don’t Believe What’s On TV
8 The Judge
9 Lane Boy
Medley (Piano + Drums)
10 The Pantaloon (Verse 1)
11 Semi-Automatic (Chorus)
12 Forest (Chorus)
13 Screen (Chorus)
14 Ode To Sleep (Chorus)
15 Addict With a Pen (Chorus + Verse 1)
16 Screen (Bridge)
18 Holding On To You
20 The Run And Go
21 Tear In My Heart
22 Car Radio