Twenty One Pilots
Vector Arena, Auckland, NZ

March 26th, 2017
5/5 stars


A reality of growing up is becoming more cynical, and I’ve never been so cynical going to a show before. This is because I’m a bit of a Twenty One Pilot veteran. I saw them in 2014 opening for Paramore. Then again in 2015 at Powerstation, (which I reviewed) and again at Vector Arena last year. I’m not going to lie, after seeing them three times in total, I left their show last year pretty disappointed; mainly because they didn’t really bring anything new to the table. I told myself I probably wouldn’t see them again. But here we are almost a year later and an opportunity came up to see them again.

I got to the box office and they said that media will be let in soon and to wait around. The line was crazy long, it looked like the whole of general admission were there already. The crowd was a really interesting age range too. I saw people who couldn’t have been older than 7, people in their 50s and everyone in between.

By the time doors opened and everyone got inside, I still wasn’t. So my cynicism had increased by about 25%. I had a chat to the box office and they said that media had gone in already and there weren’t any tickets under my name. If there was ever an appropriate time for me to be Stressed Out this was it (pun intended). To make matters worse, my 3G wasn’t working which meant that I had to walk all the way to Maccas to use their WiFi. Once I got some details sorted I went all the way back to the box office to make a couple calls. If you’re thinking that went well, it didn’t. I ran out of credit. So at this point, I was essentially Squidward, but five times grumpier.

Everything finally got sorted and we got in at about 8:20. The box office people who helped sort everything were cheering when we finally got in after an almost two-hour wait filled with shenanigans. If you are reading this, I just want to thank you so much your help, genuinely some of the best customer service I’ve ever received, lovely people, and you cheering once we got in warmed my heart.

Photo by Jessica Suo.

Despite missing the opening act Safia, the box office team put my cynical mood from a Larry David to a Steven Merchant (still somewhat cynical, but significantly less than before). Almost as soon as we got inside the arena, the balaclava wearing duo arrived on stage to a deafening applause. They opened with Heavy Dirty Soul, and as always when performing the song, singer Tyler Joseph sung into an old school microphone hanging from the lighting rig, as well as jamming a tambourine during the chorus.

The actual setlist that the band played was probably the best I’ve seen by them. From their two main albums they played twelve of the fourteen songs on Blurryface to some capacity and eight of the twelve songs on Vessel to some capacity. They even played their beloved viral cover of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love, as well as their cover of My Chemical Romances’ Cancer and surprisingly, House of Pains’ Jump Around.

Something I’d never seen incorporated into a concert before was magic. I’m not talking about Joseph’s ability to change into a new outfit insanely quick, although that is pretty impressive. But rather when he performed the classic teleporting man routine. Joseph disappeared from the stage only to reappear in the middle of the seated section. Clearly some swift body double stuff was involved, but it duped me.

Photo by Jessica Suo.

Moving on, near the middle of the show was the concert’s highlight. To no shock to the people who have been to a Twenty One Pilots show before, the crowd was easily at its best during the drop to Lane Boy. Joseph, as is tradition now, instructed the crowd to crouch down just before the songs drop, and to jump up and go wild when it hits. This makes the jump up into the drop so much more fun, and I challenge anyone to find a more defining moment of any Twenty One Pilots show.

The production of the show in general was insanely good. In fact, it was some of the best I’ve ever seen. Full LED backdrop, two massive screens either side of the stage, lasers, smoke machines, and most impressive, holograms! The lighting and background images intertwined wonderfully, making the aesthetic of the show absolutely beautiful. From the green and purple lights shining throughout the arena during Suicide Squad banger Heathens, to the lonely swing set slowly swinging during the nostalgia-influenced hit Stressed Out.

My personal favourite was during The Judge, where a giant picture of drummer Josh Dunn’s face slowly zoomed in towards his mouth. It would have been weird to some people, but it had me in absolute hysterics. The only negative I can think of for the aesthetic of the show was a single dead pixel on the left screen. This essentially meant the whole show had a tiny red dot on the screen. Some people probably didn’t even notice. But my OCD certainly did.

The show captures and truly highlights the talented duo very well. The fact Tyler can play the bass for his songs and rap perfectly without messing up is art to watch. Plus it goes without saying that Josh Dunn is amazing on drums. At one point he has a drum battle with a hologram version of himself, where ultimately he plays so good that the hologram’s head blows up. At other points of the show he plays the trumpet, and during Ride he played his kit on top of the crowd. He also did a backflip off of the piano. Tyler did cool stuff as well, jumping off his piano, running on top of the crowd in a Zorb ball and crowd surfing. Most of the show is one band member doing something cool and the other saying, “I can do something cooler.”

Photo by Jessica Suo.

The show ended with the always intense Goner, followed by the always spectacular Trees. For the finale, Tyler and Josh were playing the drums on top of the crowd. Smoke machines were blasting, confetti shot out into the crowd. I know the tour is called The Emotional Roadshow, but seeing it all come to an end kind of was emotional. As the duo bowed to the audience, they looked damn humbled to be there.

I was saying how cynical and grumpy I was before the concert started. But by the time the show ended, I felt like a kid at Christmas. The duo did all the crazy stuff live we’ve come to expect from them; backflips, crowd surfing and the like. Yet they somehow managed to top it, from playing more songs to the holograms, Zorb balls, and even magic tricks.

How they are going to up the ante for next time, I have no idea. But after tonight I guess I’m seeing them for a fifth time next time they come.

P.S. Can someone please tell me if Safia were good?

Photo by Jessica Suo.