Twenty One Pilots Know Their Fans Want A Show

Special to The Courant

The duo that is Twenty One Pilots gets it. Vocalist -keyboardist Tyler Joseph and drummer Joshua Dun are a contemporary anomaly since they understand that when a band makes the leap from theaters to arenas, visuals matter.

Sure, the sonics are the reason Twenty One Pilots is headlining big rooms, such as Webster Bank Arena, where it will perform Wednesday, Jan. 18. Joseph and Dun impressed last summer during a performance at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, N.J.

The concert commenced with the pair shrouded in red smoke, sporting matching dark slacks and red blazers and their signature black ski masks.

During "Guns For Hands," Joseph slipped into a giant ball and walked over his adoring fans. Sure it's reminiscent of moves made by the Flaming Lips and Sugarland, but it helped the Columbus, Ohio-based band to connect with the audience. The same can be said for when Dun's drum set glided over the fans in the pit.

"I think fans want a show," Dun said. "I've always felt that way. We've done whatever it takes to entertain. I've played in a gorilla costume. It goes back to the days when you're playing bars and there are only a handful people there and half of them are talking with each other. Every time I do a back flip off of the piano, it's fun for me and it's something different for the audience. Tyler and I love to take chances. We're up for anything to make the show better."

The glitz grabs the audience's attention at the band's shows, which are often sold out. But it's the songs that attracted such a large base of fans. Twenty One Pilots morphed from a rap-rock act, which formed in 2009, to something much bigger because of it's expanded sonic palette. Rock, rap, reggae, dub, industrial and drum 'n' bass are some of the sounds the band explores on its second major label release, ""Blurryface."

The latest batch of material has produced a number big hits, such as "Ride," "Heathens" and "Stressed Out." Twenty One Pilots became the first act in Billboard history to lead two Billboard radio charts with different songs ("Ride" on pop songs and "Heathens" on alternative songs) at the same time. "Blurryface" has gone double platinum. That's remarkable because albums don't sell well these days and the material is deep and dark.

The duo also picked up the prize for favorite duo or group — pop/rock at the American Music Awards in November.

"It's amazing how well we're doing," Dun said. "We love having the fans we have. But the most important thing is to push ourselves. We're constantly coming up with new ideas. We don't want to make the same album over and over again."

Twenty One Pilots has yet to repeat itself. The tandem has morphed with each release. The hooks are bigger and the material more compelling. The tunes range from intense to party. "It's not a bad thing if you have some diversity on an album," Dun said. "It's a good thing to take fans to another place with each song."

Expect much more out of Joseph and Dun, who are each 28 years old. "We started at an early age," Dun said. "We have so much more music to make."

TWENTY ONE PILOTS performs at the Webster Bank Arena, 600 Main St., Bridgeport, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. Judah & The Lion will open. Tickets are $34 and $44. 203-345-2400, websterbankarena.com

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