Gig review: Twenty One Pilots

gig- twenty one pilots

21/2/16 – Barrowland Ballroom

By Rachael Morris, Music Editor


After watching Twenty One Pilots for the first time at the O2 ABC in November last year, where I was blown away by Tyler and Josh’s faultless, and visually and aurally eclectic performance, I jumped at the chance for tickets to their next show in February.

Transviolet opened the show and, whilst they emerged with an impeccably cool aesthetic, their set went downhill as soon as it began. At times McTaggart’s voice provided an ethereal, breathy release which took you far away from the surrounding dark venue of Barrowland. But these moments were too few and far between. Unfortunately an uncomfortable and strained shrillness prevailed, and the crowd were left largely unenthused and un-invigorated by the performance. The overtly affected dance moves of the bass only served to worsen the set, leaving me to deal with a violent case of second hand embarrassment. Jeremy Loops, who performed as their support at the last Glasgow show, served as a much more rousing, interesting and appropriate opener to a Twenty One Pilots show.

As usual, the visual elements of the performance formed a large part of the show. Smoke machines, confetti canons, balaclavas, microphones swinging from the ceiling, hypnotising lights and a twenty foot platform at the back of the hall which Tyler climbed like a tree to perform one of the beat drops, all served to create an extremely captivating night. On top of this, Tyler and Josh’s relentless energy fuelled the boisterous atmosphere for the entirety of the show. At one point a drum kit on a piece of plywood is placed on top of the crowd and bouncing hands jostle Josh as he performs a rip-roaring drum solo on top of the audience. His flying drumstick narrowly missed my clutching hand by millimetres shortly after, and this was the only lowlight of the set.

The undeniably catchy ‘Heavydirtysoul’ opened the night, followed by the anthemic track ‘Stressed Out’, the dark vulnerability of ‘Guns for Hands’ and a personal favourite, ‘Migraine’. The song which titled both the album and the tour, ‘Blurryface’, made an unexpectedly early appearance, immediately catalysing the crowd into action. Barrowlands served as a rather sweaty host to the rowdy gig, and someone passed out just in front of me within the first ten minutes of the show. At various points during the performance Tyler split the audience into choruses and resultant rounds of their lyrics echoed between the two sides. The snippet performance of ‘House of Gold’ only tantalises me and I do find myself wishing they had committed to playing the full version. Last time ‘Lane Boy’ served as the most memorable song of the night by miles, and I was almost nervous to hear it live again in case it didn’t live up to my nostalgic expectations. I need not have worried. The reggae offbeat fills Barrowlands and the crowd erupt in dance, shouting the lyrical attack on the conformity of the music industry back at Tyler and Josh. The highly anticipated beat drop in the middle sees the crowd descend into chaos. Bashed, battered and bouncing, I grinned the whole way through. ‘Car Radio’ is another highlight of the set with the entire crowd rapping back the dark emotional lyrics and joining Tyler and Josh for a second explosive beat drop.

On top of all of this, I cannot review a Twenty One Pilots performance without specifically mentioning Tyler Joseph’s voice. He is not only one the most charismatic frontmen I’ve watched in years, to this day his voice is one of the best I’ve ever heard live. The end of the performance and the songs in the encore showcase his talent particularly well.

By the end of the night I am a sweaty mess, my feet are ruined and I can barely speak. But, for me, what truly makes a Twenty One Pilots gig so remarkable is that even in a venue the size of Barrowlands, sold out, they go to unnecessary lengths, and indeed succeed, in diminishing the barrier between the audience and the performers; we are with them the whole way. And all for only £18.