After a year in hibernation, alt-pop maniacs Twenty One Pilots are back with one of 2018’s biggest and most unforgiving releases, Trench. Expanding on the labyrinthine mythology erected with 2015’s Blurryface, the Ohio duo’s fifth studio album is an hour-long rollercoaster ride through quirky electro beats, soul-punching storytelling and angelic atmospherics, painted all over with an unexpected, yet extremely welcome indie-funk vibe. Considering the LP was produced almost entirely by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Tyler Joseph in his basement (with a bit of help from Mutemath frontman Paul Meany), it’s a stunning body of work.
As you might imagine, we’re hyped as all sweet hell for the band’s return to Australian stages this December. Joseph and drummer Josh Dun will be hitting arenas in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for the Bandito Tour, which will see their full stage production and a two-hour set melt minds like nothing else. Here are our top five reasons not to miss this tour.
1. The most eclectic setlist you'll ever hear
Across two packed hours covering five impossibly dynamic LPs, the duo span a full gamut of rock, pop, soul, rap, reggae, dance and indie flavours – sometimes all in the one song (see: ‘Ode To Sleep’). One minute, you’ll find yourself awash in a tsunami of warbling synths and roaring bass guitars, bright ukulele and glassy piano cantering buoyantly just a few moments later. Such is the beauty of Twenty One Pilots’ vehement defiance towards the construct of genre – if Joseph can find a place in the mix for a sound otherwise entirely dissonant to their setup, it’s likely to pop up at some point.
2. The ridiculous stage production
The music always comes first, of course, but a Twenty One Pilots show is as much a visual spectacle as it is a showcase of music. In addition to the typical arsenal of lights, pyro and confetti (so much confetti), the band is known for showing off grandiose set pieces – like the exploding car that’s become a staple of the Bandito tour overseas – costumes and video interludes. A recent addition to their setup is the ‘B-stage’, where in the middle of the show, Joseph and Dun will relocate for a separate, smaller set of deep cuts.
3. The atmosphere
Hell hath no fury like the Skeleton Clique (that’s the name tenderly adorned to Twenty One Pilots’ fanbase) when their heroes dart out onstage. Punters of all demographics bounce, mosh and scream along with a type of energy we honestly can’t say we’ve seen elsewhere. There’s a distinct feeling of camaraderie in a Twenty One Pilots crowd. Although you’d never have met the tens of thousands of smiling faces around you, once the lights dim and the first hums of 'Heavydirtysoul' rumble out of the PA, those faces become family.
4. The chance to say "I was there"
Though they’ve already made it to arena-level stardom, Twenty One Pilots are still on the up and up. Not only is it a Clique-bestowed badge of honour to catch the band before they wind up packing stadiums, but each tour – especially of late – has been notably significant for its unique imagery and structure. Two years on, fans that wound up at the Emotional Roadshow tour are still banging on about the heart-melting speech Joseph gave before the (now-iconic) encore of ‘Goner’ and ‘Trees’.
Hell, I was at the Quiet Is Violent theatre tour in 2014, and I promise you, I will literally never shut up about it.
5. The unbelievable performances
At the end of the day, none of the above would mean anything if Joseph and Dun weren’t world-class performers in their own right. Top 40 smash-hits like ‘Stressed Out’ and ‘Ride’ certainly didn’t hurt, but it was the ever-evolving, always incandescent live shows that brought Twenty One Pilots to where they are today. Their enigmatic gimmicks and ridiculous setups aren’t unique to their recent, million-dollar-budgeted tours, either – they’ve been whipping out these quirks since the days where they played in college basements for Pizza Hut vouchers.
Joseph’s onstage antics are brilliant to watch. It’s impressive enough to see him flip through a handful of instruments on a whim, but what keeps that niche afloat is that, even when he’s being thrashed around in a big, red, plastic ball atop 5,000 overhyped teens, his vocal strengths never dip. His bass playing is unfalteringly vicious, and the man knows how to make a room swoon with a uke in hand. And the way Dun abuses his drumsticks with such resplendent virtuosity? We’re speechless.
Twenty One Pilots Australian Tour 2018
Friday December 7: Perth Arena, Perth
Monday December 10: Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
Thursday December 13: Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Sunday December 16: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Tuesday December 18: Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Twenty One Pilots head off on the Bandito Tour this December. Tickets are on sale now via Live Nation. Trench is out now via Fueled By Ramen/Warner Music.
Image via Brad Heaton.