For a four-year-old, it was a lot to take in. The small girl, who had been teetering on the edge of a snack-related tantrum, was now scanning the Garden with wide eyes in spite of herself. A combination of masked faces, smeared black body paint, and bright red kneesocks held her attention for a long, quiet minute. “She’s exhausted,” came the mom’s voice. “We flew all the way from Orlando to see them. They’re her favorite band.” In one 2-second motion, the child swiveled around, nodded in solemn confirmation, adjusted her ponytail, and returned to her people-watching. “She sings and dances to them every day. Don’t you honey?” “I’m hungry,” she reminded her parents. A piece of gum from my bag bought them another quiet minute. If she was anything like her costumed peers, though, it was a different kind of hunger – one that only the presence of Twenty One Pilots could satiate last night.
Everyone was hungry, especially after night one of TØP’s Madison Square Garden run; just one small piece of the well-traveled duo’s EMØTIØNAL RØADSHØW WØRLD TØUR. For the dedicated GA fans who had camped outside for multiple days to secure a good spot, the suspense was rising to a crazy peak on night two. As soon as opener Chef’Special clicked their sticks, the excitement in the room seemed to fizz up and bubble over early. The Dutch band celebrated their final show of the tour – and their second show at Madison Square Garden – with a heartfelt set that culminated in a rush of flickering lighters during “In Your Arms.” As the sea of hands reached for him, frontman Joshua Nolet expressed his deep gratitude for the fact that everyone was partying so hard at 7pm. They were just getting started.
Mutemath was the next band to meet the starving crowd – and they seemed to have a solid plan in place to satisfy them. The New Orleans alt-rockers tore into their performance with a barrage of quick rhythms and high-energy synth, delivering a straightforward, 7-song set of “Used To,” “Light Up,” “Blood Pressure,” “Vitals,” “Changes,” “Spotlight,” and “Monument.” Under the frenzied spell of drummer Darren King, who had literally duct-taped his headphones to his skull, each beat was sliced and subdivided until the crowd barely knew which way was up – especially with frontman Paul Meany throwing himself into backflips and handstands, and the onslaught of strobe lights that toyed with their eyes. If the applause was any indication, it was exactly the kind of disorientation they craved.
But one of the wildest crowd moments happened when no one was onstage at all. Several thousand fans somehow synced up to send a perfect wave surging around the room, jumping with arms outstretched to feed it more momentum each time it came around. If Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun were watching, then they seemed to take it as a cue, because they suddenly rushed onto the stage right when the wave was coming back. The cheers for TØP were explosive. Even the most stoic of spectators sank blissfully into the screams as the lights dipped into darkness for “Heavydirtysoul.” As always, the ski-masked duo had some tricks up their sleeves and turned the venue into their funhouse. The concoction of costume changes, stunts, and storylines was as varied as their musical influences, tied together only with the common threads of red-and-black and shock-and-awe. Even more pervasive was the feeling that you could be kidnapped by masked men at any moment – not necessarily a bad feeling with the masked men in question.
It wasn’t until Tyler (somehow) teleported to the uppermost balcony that the masks finally came off. But Josh maintained some mystery throughout the show, his face often shrouded as he smacked the drums with splintering sticks. Not long after dishing out favorites like “Polarize,” “Heathens,” and even a snippet of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Twenty One Pilots were joined by Mutemath and Chef’Special for a string of cover songs, including The Top Notes’ “Twist and Shout,” Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” The fan response was dramatic, and TØP made every effort to keep it that way until their encore of “Goner” and “Trees.” “Because it is night two, it is your job to make it impossible for night one to have outdone you, and I want you to destroy them,” Tyler urged while the crowd whipped up an impressive scream. “Very good,” he said approvingly. They seemed to feel the same.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley