Blazing through their tour of consistently sold-out concerts, Twenty One Pilots supported their recent album “Blurryface” this past Wednesday. Returning for their second consecutive show at Hammerstein Ballroom, the duo known for their genre of ukulele rap brought unmatched visceral energy to the venue, outshining their opening acts.
Opening the concert was Finish Ticket, an energetic group of six with a Walk the Moon-esque sound. They were followed by Echosmith, a group of four siblings that recently rose to fame with their hit single “Cool Kids.” Their sound sounds similar to recent Taylor Swift hits: pleasantly poppy and boring at the same time
The chords of “Cool Kids” sizzled and faded as Echosmith cleared the stage for the headliners. In a bombastic entrance of flashing lights and crashing drums, Twenty One Pilots singer Tyler Joseph burst onstage and immediately dove into “Heavydirtysoul,” the opening track on “Blurryface” that hooks listeners with its frantically rapped verse. To make the opening of the show visually intriguing, the band wore red eye makeup and black body paint. The black body paint represents anxiety and the character of blurry face; the markings around his neck represent the choking quality of anxiety, and the black hands represent the inability to create when crippled with mental distress.
The duo included all their usual stunts in the show – drummer Josh Dun played a few songs from a drumkit on a platform supported by members of the audience and Joseph spent the entire set leaping off the piano and falling backwards from boxes scattered around the stage. At one point, he attempted to scale the ballroom’s scaffolding.
The band then set aside their energetic kinetics for musical guest appearances. Among them included the indie pop star Halsey, two members of Walk the Moon, and the cheery duo composite to Twenty One Pilots, Matt & Kim, the group Tyler claimed to be the biggest influence for them.
Even more central to the band’s performance style than their stunts was their genuine devotion to the crowd. The band’s lyrics, which often mention death, suicide and mental illness from a first-person perspective, have become anthems for fans through lines like “Tie a noose around your mind loose enough to breathe fine and tie it / to a tree, tell it ‘you belong to me’ / ‘this ain’t a noose, this is a leash.”
With a demographic primarily of darkly clothed teenagers, it wasn’t difficult to understand the undeniable feeling of friendship that permeated the room. Most simply, the experience can be summed up in one encounter: walking to the subway after the show, a girl in a Blurryface T-shirt gushed to her friends, “That was the best night of my life.”
Twenty One Pilots continues their tour in Missouri and Nebraska next, on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, respectively.
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 21 print issue. Email Hailey Nuthals at [email protected]