It was a beautiful Sunday evening—the clouds were white and puffy and the sky was the perfect shade of blue—and the last stop of Twenty Øne Piløts's Tøur de Cølumbus was upon us. Throngs of people congregated outside of the arena in the Northwest plaza, sprawled in the grass, with the excited fans of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun all singing along to the music blasting through the speakers as they waited for the doors to open. People that had obtained General Admission tickets had been lined up as early as six o'clock in the morning and had camped out elsewhere even before that. From as far as Alaska and Maine they had traveled and we were all there for the performance of a lifetime.
As the doors opened and the people flooded into the concert hall, the energy and excitement was palpable. Opening for Twenty Øne Piløts was local band and good friends of Josh and Tyler, Vesperteen, and after that, MisterWives.
As the stage crew began their set up for Twenty Øne Piløts, the crowd thrummed with anticipation. And when the lights turned off, bathing everyone in darkness and the screens came on to reveal the emblem of Twenty Øne Piløts, everyone in the room knew that the show was going to be a good one. Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun climbed onto the stage around nine o'clock to thunderous approval and rocked the opening with their most recent single, "heavydirtysøul." Bedecked in their signature ski masks, Twenty Øne Piløts had arrived and surely gave it their all.
After a few more songs the duo stopped to address the crowd, admitting with light laughter that the audience should expect long, awkward pauses because they did "not want this night to end." Tyler expressed his pleasure at being home and performing in their home town.
As the night continued, it seemed that neither the audience nor the duo were getting tired and the show continued with every bit of the excitement expected. At one point in the show as Tyler played the piano, crew members rushed the stage bearing a black curtain and threw it over him as he played. The lights cut off, and just seconds later a spot light revealed the lead singer to be on the stairway in the middle of the crowd on the third level. The crowd roared as he continued his set as if nothing had happened at all.
In the two hours that the duo performed, the cheering and clapping never ebbed and the energy never faded. On their feet the whole time, the crowd’s cheers and singing seemed to fuel Josh and Tyler and they bounded all over the stage. Tyler beckoned the pit closer, and he hopped down from the stage and climbed onto the hands of the crowd, never once faltering in his performance. Later, a portable drum set was hoisted into the crowd and Josh relocated, much to the audience's approval.
Some of the high points of the show included their hit song from their album Blurryface (released May of 2015), "Lane Boy",—the crowd went wild; the lights and performance hit a high point—and "Tear in My Heart" their song that hit radio stations in 2015 as one of the first singles from Blurryface. The audience’s involvement made for a feeling of not only watching the show but being a part of it. Never ending their rush around the concert hall, Josh and Tyler transferred to the 'B' stage multiple times and 'crowd surfed' too, giving an aura of not only a concert, but also a true performance. Larger than life, both Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph made sure that everyone enjoyed the show with their fiery performance, their signature garb (though they both deigned to shed their ski masks early in the show, and Josh his shirt—much to the delight of many in the arena), and their natural charisma. A perfect mix of soft and hardcore music, Twenty Øne Piløts gave a well-balanced and well-received performance.
"Enjoy this moment," Tyler proclaimed, as he welcomed two of the members of opening band MisterWives back on stage to join them for a rendition of “Ride,” "because this show is coming closer to an end."
Twenty Øne Piløts continued their night, with moments of raw emotion and even a heart-to-heart from Tyler to the audience until after eleven o'clock, performing for over two hours with moments of absence of music only as long as two minutes. And the crowd loved every minute of it. As the show came to a close, Tyler paused to address the audience, playing the keyboard lightly as he did (only one of the five instruments he played throughout the night—the guitar, the ukulele, the drums in the final performance and the actual piano). Tyler asked the audience "to try and learn something" if they could that night, sharing the advice that "you cannot put a ceiling on your dreams."
Tyler shared a look with friend, Josh as he continued, confiding that when Josh and him met they said to each other: "Arenas—we want to play arenas." Though this dream seemed far fetched then, he said, it had happened because of the fans surrounding him. Tyler pondered the idea of Tøur de Cølumbus being the end of an era but promised that "this is not it" if fans could "give them room to grow."
And so the final song began, albeit bittersweetly, as a tradition that Twenty Øne Piløts always closed with this song—"Trees" from their album Vessel, released in January 2013. The whole audience was jumping up and down and screaming, letting loose for the big finale, and what a finale it was.
"I want to know you.
I want to see.
I want to say hello."
During the performance though, it did not go unnoticed that Tyler subtlety changed the "hello" to "goodbye," which marked the song with a twinge of finality—the show was over. This left us all feeling a bit bittersweet as the song continued.
Halfway through the song Tyler and Josh climbed, once again, atop the pit, beating the drums as the crowd became a living thing around them, rushing towards them like waves rush towards the shore at high tide. They paused for a long moment, closing their eyes, letting the audience take over as they drank in the final moments of their final stop on their tour.
The song came to a slow ending, extended out as long as possible until the dreaded moment in which the duo would hop off the stage for good, would come. Tyler and Josh took to center stage, taking a deep bow, giving each other a hug as the crowd roared, clapping full force, some even crying.
"We are Twenty Øne Piløts," the duo shouted to the still screaming crowd, "and so are you!"
And so the show came to an end as the two hopped off of the stage followed by thunderous applause and deafening screams.
Out of the five shows the band played in Columbus during the week, this was the only one I attended, so I myself cannot say which was the best, but I can say that as the concert hall emptied out, the murmurs of approval followed me from the other fans —"This was the best show." I can say that every one of the thousands of people that choked the hall knew with definitive certainty that they had just witnessed a once in a lifetime show, a show in which none but those there could fully understand or appreciate. As I exited the Jerome Schottenstein Center with the thousands of others, the words "WE ARE HOME" lit up the night—and indeed they were. Tyler and Josh put up a show stopping performance that not only pleased the audience but had a special spot in their hearts too.
It was hard to believe that such a successful creative duo had spawned from our city — but it made it all the more satisfying that Tyler and Josh remembered their home, remembered us. No doubt, many of the people that had been at some of their first performances of mere hundreds of people, just a few years ago, were present on this night, and that thought, the thought that music brings so many people together, was what would forever remain in my memory of the experience.
Numerous signs carried by fans read "Welcøme høme". Welcome home indeed, to a band that it seems will forever be great performers and great musicians, and forever beloved in this, their home city, which is also so clearly beloved by the duo themselves.
"We are Twenty Øne Piløts and so are you."
4. Message Man / Polarize
6. We Don't Believe What's on TV
7. Can't Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley cover)
8. Screen / The Judge
9. Lane Boy
10. Ode to Sleep
11. The Pantaloon/Fall Away/Johnny Boy/Forest/Addict with a Pen/March to the Sea Kitchen Sink
12. Cancer (My Chemical Romance cover)
13. Josh Drum Battle
14. Holding on to You
15. No Woman, No Cry (Bob Marley & The Wailers cover) (with MisterWives)
16. Ride (with MisterWives)
17. Stressed Out
18. Guns for Hands (with Tyler in hamster ball)
19. Tear in My Heart
20. Car Radio
21. Truce (First verse and chorus only)
Photo Credits: Nic Ventura, Madison Ellcessor