by Danielle Fecteau
Meadowbrook Music Festival sprang to life on a Saturday in early September when Twenty One Pilots performed its Blurryface Tour to a sold-out audience of 7,700 fans, or “clique” members as its followers are commonly known.
Tyler Joseph (lead vocalist, pianist, ukulele, keyboard, synthesizer, and bass) and Josh Dun (drums) make up the ever-growing sensation that is Twenty One Pilots. The duo’s sound can best be described as “schizophrenic pop,” an unofficial genre but one that fits the pairs unique sound.
Most of their songs allude to their Christian beliefs but they are not officially known as a Christian band. Joseph and Dun build deeper meanings into their music to connect with those who feel alone in today’s world.
The concert began with “Heavydirtysoul,” a fast-pace song off of Blurryface. The piece really set the tone for the rest of the concert. The entire audience was on its feet, jumping, with hands in the air. At one point during the song, as in many of the other pieces, Joseph stopped singing and let the audience do the work. In moments like these, the audience seemed especially connected to the performers.
The crowd became even more energized when the unique tone of “Guns For Hands,” off of the 2013 album Vessel, blasted through the air. The song centers in on the idea of depression and suicidal thoughts. When the chorus rang out with the ever-powerful lyrics, “…You all have guns, and you never put the safety on,” the entire crowd made their fingers into a gun shape and shot them up into the air. The performance laid the groundwork for an upcoming hot bed of emotions.
Joseph said he wrote the song after speaking with teens in New York City who told him that they were in a constant battle with depression. “This song is saying, ‘I know you have the ability to hurt yourself, but let’s divert that into something else,’ ” he said.
Meaning In Life
The performers continued connecting with the audience as Joseph said, “All right, just like we have all along, we’re gonna need your help on this one,” when introducing “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV” from Blurryface. He instructed the audience to shout “Yeah, yeah, yeah” on the count of three. The venue seemed to turn into a community of people who were struggling to find meaning in life, and knew they were not alone.
Toward the end of the show, after demanding that everyone climb onto each others’ shoulders during “The Run and Go,” Joseph introduced “Car Radio,” one of the band’s biggest hits. Clearly a crowd favorite, Joseph and Dun also seemed to love performing the piece. At one point, Joseph ran into the audience and climbed a support beam in the pavilion. The expression on his face was priceless; he finally was able to see just how many fans showed up at the sold-out show.
Performances of “Goner” (Blurryface) and “Trees” (Vessel), two pieces about coming back from suicidal thoughts, closed out the show. Many members of the audience took out their lighters or cellphones and swayed with Dun and Joseph in a beautiful moment of surrender.
Joseph and Dun seemed to put everything into their performance at Meadowbrook Music Festival. Dun even did a backflip off of Joseph’s piano during “Holding Onto You,” causing the crowd to erupt in cheers. About halfway through the show, Dun placed a wooden plank on the audience by the stage and set his drum set on it. He then played an epic solo while Joseph stood on the hands of the crowd to belt out the lyrics to “Doubt.”
Throughout the show, Joseph would often take time to stop and talk to the audience. “We truly wish that we could get to hear each and every one of your stories personally. Just know you all mean a lot to us,” he said before playing “Car Radio.” The witty banter and endearing messages that Joseph and Dun sent out into the audience made it all the more intimate, even with the almost 8,000 fans packed into the venue.
Twenty One Pilots gave its all in a show that no one will soon forget. My favorite moments of the show were when I would catch the performers in a moment of what I can best describe as worship. Dun would often finish playing a song and he would lay his drumsticks down, close his eyes, and tilt his head toward the sky with a smile on his face. Joseph frequently did the same in the middle of songs, letting the crowd carry on the lyrics. These almost surreal scenes invited the crowd into the moments of reflection. For reasons like that, I have believe the Twenty One Pilots clique will continue to grow.