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Twenty One Pilots – Playing in the Dark

Last night, the growing phenomenon that is Twenty One Pilots packed out the NME stage for their 8.50pm set. This 50 minute slot was set to be incredible. Known for their stunts and tricks during gigs, the musical duo from Columbus, Ohio certainly know how to keep their fans interested and last nights set was no exception.

The duo, comprising of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, took to the stage in front of a jam-packed audience and musically, their set was impeccable. Always knowing how to control a crowd, TOP’s set list was incredibly well put together, comprising of some of their greatest hits such as; “Heathens”, “Stressed Out”, “Ride” and “Car Radio”, as well as a few covers including House Of Pain’s “Jump Around”, and not one member of the audience wasn’t dancing. However, while the music was at its best, technical difficulties mid set left the show feeling rather ‘stop-start’ and gaps between songs were, on occasion, too long, and too quiet. While not the fault of Twenty One Pilots, I can’t help but feel that this detracted from the atmosphere within the NME tent. Spark pit photographer Will described the front of the crowd as “manic, the most intense surge of pushing I’ve seen, at least a hundred young fans had to be pulled from the crowd, most crying as they left“.


Despite a power outage for the duo’s lights, Joseph and Dun worked hard to bring back the excitement in their crowd and their stunts for this set definitely helped their case. It was encouraging to see that despite having previous sets cut short, for example, their set at Radio 1 Big Weekend which was cut off due to safety concerns on behalf of the BBC, that Twenty One Pilots have stayed true to their performance style, incorporating crowd surfing, piano flips, climbing of scaffolding within the audience and running on top of the crowd in a giant bubble ball into their fifty minute set! Josh Dun also managed to have his drum kit held up by the audience while he played through part of “Ride”, and overall these stunts proved popular, with screams and cheers all through the tent.


The American duo, who’s popularity seems to be growing insatiably, especially with the release of Marvel’s Suicide Squad, for which the alternative hip hop electropop duo recorded their single Heathens, worked their crowd throughout the set despite their tech issues, and once the lights came back there seemed to be no stopping them. The fans loved them, which was evident in the sheer amount of people in and around the NME tent, and at one point in the show, tens of people were lifted from the front due to the crammed audience and the inevitable pushing that occurred during the opening few numbers.

TOP, as always, gave an energetic performance and these two men never disappoint in terms of delivery. Although the issues faced around the middle of their set held them back a little, I commend this duo for their dedication to delivery, performing in the dark and pushing for a hyped up end to their day here at Reading.


(All photo credits to William Cole)

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