Twenty One Pilots: Reaching the Few, the Proud, and the Emotional

When there is any mention of the name of the biggest band in the world right now, the obvious is asked, “Are there twenty one of them?” The answer is no. There are only two members in this band, and they are not pilots, at least not in the literal sense of being able to fly an airplane. However, Tyler Joseph and Joshua Dun have become, in a sense, the pilots of something far greater, leading a generation of fans, the clique, toward feelings of comfort, understanding and even hope during the typical insecurities that come with being a young adult. They are something that has never really been seen in quite some time: the biggest mainstream success of a band that cannot be boxed into any one category for too long. They’ve sold out shows at Madison Square Garden for two nights, as well as London’s famous Alexandra Palace, forcing the band to add a second date at the venue. So how did this world domination come to be from two guys from Columbus, Ohio?

Twenty One Pilots’ audience consists mostly of teenagers and young adults, and this is due to their lyrics resonating deeply and truly capturing what it’s like to grow up and go against the grain. From It’s nothing like the punk counterculture rebellion by any means, but their music and image are rebellious enough to make them the epitome of cool amongst the younger crowd.

When you first hear a TOP song, there is this initial reaction of, “The beat sounds pretty promising.” And then, when Tyler Joseph’s voices bursts into your earbuds, you think, “Now the words don’t match the beat that harmoniously, how does anyone like this?”

But it is just that, the off-kilter way their music sounds and the words they speak that have all of this modern and personal truths, such as in “Message Man,” from their most recent album, Blurryface, where Joseph sings out, “Life is up here but you comment below/When the comments below will always become common/Motivation to promote your show’s next episode…” TOP lyrics are an equation of modern criticisms mixed in with relatable situations of being trapped in your own mind. Joseph speaks a lot about his personal demons in the best way he can, by naming an entire album after his insecurity characterized under the name Blurryface. In the last song on the album, Joseph sings in a soft, melodic voice that, “I’ve got two faces/Blurry’s the one I’m not…” This line repeated several times throughout is a sign that Joseph understands that he doesn’t have to be controlled by these entities, and it is relatable to a lot of people, including myself, where we can be consumed by our own thoughts, but also want to defeat that side of us we don’t like.

While their newfound success on the radio airwaves showcase their ability to capture an audience with a good beat and lyrics, TOP have always been known around the live show circuit as a concert that needs to be seen with your own eyes. Twenty One Pilots are made up of Tyler Joseph and Joshua Dun; A singer and drummer. What more do you need to have a good time? The minimalist image of only two band members actually makes them more progressive than they seem since they don’t rely solely on themselves as performers to make their shows great. When you combine all of the elements from the music, to the lights, to the emotion behind every word sung, it comes together to be an amazing, theatrical experience for anyone lucky enough to see them in concert. Even now when they’re mentioned, Twenty One Pilots is still seen as an eclectic taste in music, despite everyone knowing their most popular songs to date, “Stressed Out” and “Ride,” but the size of their popularity speaks volumes.

For the majority of their Emotional Roadshow Tour this summer, the shows were sold out several months well before showtime, and tickets for their upcoming shows are in high demand. These two dudes sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City so quickly that they had to add on another date, and did so again at London’s Alexandra Palace. I was lucky enough to see them in Phoenix, AZ this past July, and even being all the way up in the nosebleeds was enough to make me feel more alive than any other concert I’d ever been to before. There’s a distinct energy in the air that you can feel before TOP takes the stage. Once the show is over, your troubles are lost in the adrenaline rush that comes with screaming your lungs to death for an hour and a half.

Even though Twenty One Pilots are a lot more well-known than they were a few years ago, there’s no doubt that they will ever stop being themselves in the mainstream music industry, thus inspiring others and their fans to do the same. If that isn’t the mark of a true artist resonating with thousands of people on some sort of equal level, I don’t know what is.


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A girl who likes to write about things she loves.