Although we tend to focus our coverage and stories on developing artists, Twenty One Pilots’ Takeover tour gave us the opportunity to look back at the duo’s coming-of-age journey as well as the profound impact they have made in the alternative scene over the past ten years.
Twenty One Pilots started catching fire in their hometown, Columbus, Ohio, in 2011, nurturing a cult following and selling out the 1,700-cap room of Newport Music Hall. Despite appearing on the radar of over a dozen labels, their local success still evoked a tsunami of question marks: Could Columbus’ best kept secret extend their success beyond the Midwest?
After inking a deal with Fueled By Ramen in 2012, things looked promising, as they were in the company of Paramore, Fall Out Boy and Gym Class Heroes, but major success wasn’t imminent. Sure, the Skeleton Clique continued to snowball, but their sound was too scene for the mainstream and too hip-hop for the scene. There was really no-tell of what their potential was; they performed on mainstream outlets such as Late Night with Seth Meyers and MTV Movie Awards, but the growth of their fanbase remained a mystery. Regardless, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun continued to be their unapologetic selves, “play[ing] with as much conviction for five people as [they] would for five-thousand.”
And then came Blurryface.
In a time when pop and hip-hop started to blend and the dancey, electro tunes of L.M.F.A.O. came to an end, the release of Blurryface could not have been more apropo. “Stressed Out,” in particular, served as the buffer between pop and hip-hop and sparked novelty into mainstream radio. Racking up accolades and awarding Twenty One Pilots their first Grammy, Blurryface undeniably brought alternative back to the public’s ears, and not just to teenagers - it made a convincing dent on adult contemporary charts, too.
All that to be said, Blurryface is one of the most successful alternative albums released in recent time, and its legacy echoed in the success of Trench and Scaled And Icy...Which brings us to the Takeover Tour at The Greek Theatre.
Although the tour was thematically marketed around Scaled And Icy, the setlist presented Twenty One Pilots as a mosaic of all eras. The lighting and stage design was impeccably vibrant, but what made the show especially unique was the group’s emphasis on intimacy after a long year of being tourless. Halfway through the set, they brought out a campfire and performed on ukuleles and folky acoustic guitars, extending an invitation to the audience to sing along. On another occasion, Tyler walked offstage into the crowd and climbed onto a ladder to scream “And now I just sit in silence,” as the lights went out dramatically. And at the very end of the show, Tyler and Josh hopped on wooden planks that were carried by the crowd and drummed in cohesion, to give all the families, scene kids, and normies one last awe-inspired look at their magnificence.
Photography by Enoch Chuang