Twenty One Pilots plays intimate show in Goldstein

Review: Despite the disconnect between Twenty One Pilots and opener Travi$ Scott, University Union's Homecoming concert offered a fun night of music for a small crowd.

University Union’s Homecoming concert on Thursday in Goldstein suffered an identity crisis.

The show featured local openers Shiffley, a pop rock band hellbent on bringing synth back, Travi$ Scott, an up-and-coming rapper who mostly yelled at the crowd for his half hour set, and Twenty One Pilots, the alt-pop/hip-hop headliners.

Because of Twenty One Pilots’ pop sound, Shiffley actually made for a pretty fitting and entertaining supporting act. The members looked comfortable on stage, and their senses of rhythm were pretty spot-on.

But Travi$ Scott came way out of left field. The rapper and his DJ tried their best to hype up the crowd by yelling at them and demanding that they “rage,” but perhaps the audience would have raged harder -- and of their own free will -- if the music was any good and was allowed to speak for itself.

(Photo: Angela Zonunpari)

Thankfully, Twenty One Pilots brought the focus back and gave an energetic performance with a ton of heart. Vocalist/pianist Tyler Joseph darted around the stage in a skeleton suit for their opening song, “Ode to Sleep,” off their latest album Vessel. Drummer Josh Dun held his own regarding stage presence, animatedly headbanging and bouncing in his seat.

“Ode to Sleep” was followed by “Migraine,” also from Vessel. The song, with poignant lyrics about the back-and-forth inner battles between depression and optimism, is an especially good representation of what Twenty One Pilots does: skillfully combines pop music with fast rapping and memorable choruses. Joseph’s flow is flawless, his voice an intriguing blend of Eminem and Cage the Elephant vocalist Matt Shultz.

What really made the performance special was the time that Joseph spent bantering with the crowd. He told stories and offered insightful introductions to most of the songs. He even poked fun at Travi$ Scott, emphasizing how silly parts of his performance were. Scott ended his set by telling the crowd to buy Jay-Z’s album.

“Is that just a fancy way to say you know somebody?” Joseph asked, and then told the crowd to go buy the latest Dixie Chicks CD.

One of the more memorable song introductions was to “Car Radio,” another song from Vessel. Joseph told the story of his car radio getting stolen and how the resulting silence affected him. He sings, “I hate this car that I'm driving/There's no hiding for me/I'm forced to deal with what I feel/There is no distraction to mask what is real.”

During the band’s final song, Joseph instructed the crowd to form a circle in front of the stage. He jumped into the empty space in the middle to sing right to his fans, ending an already intimate evening in an even more personal way.

Despite the concert being obviously undersold -- and Travi$ Scott not fitting in -- Twenty One Pilots put on a memorable and personal performance. The students, faculty and alumni in Goldstein on Thursday should feel lucky to have caught these up-and-comers. The rest of SU missed out.

Twenty One Pilots Q&A

Check out the Otto-Tune blog featuring a Q&A with Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots.

(Photo: Angela Zonunpari)

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