By Paul Piazza
Midway through the exceptional Twenty One Pilots show Monday at Ace of Spades, a young guy turned to me and said, “This is fascinating.” He gestured to the crowd and said he couldn’t comprehend that so many kids (he was 25, but referring to all the teens) could afford tickets to the sold-out show. He paid $150 to a ticket broker. The original price was $40. “Do they even know how hard you have to work to make that much money?” he asked.
Twenty One Pilots seem to comprehend the strong work ethic. The band has toured relentlessly for the past two years. This show was a make-up date from October. The original concert had sold out in minutes—that was late in the summer when the band was just beginning to blow up.
In in the interim, Twenty One Pilots (drummer Josh Dun and vocalist/pianist Tyler Joseph) have gone from a mid-level festival act to headlining huge venues. That’s lagely because of successful singles, such as “Stressed Out,” a catchy tune with a melody that gets stuck in your head and words that seem to connect with any generation. The video opens with Joseph riding a big wheel while wearing all black, apart from a red beanie. It was a look copied by many of the young concert goers.
Sample lyrics: “Used to dream of outer space, but now they’re laughing at our face, saying ‘Wake up you need to make money!'”
The young duo (both are 27) from Columbus, Ohio, put on an engaging and dynamic show with an astounding level of dexterity and a few costume changes. Near the end, the duo played drums on a pair of small platforms held by security staff as concert smoke and lights blasted the stage. The effects were great, however it’s the band’s anxiety-ridden, schizoid pop that seems to be the biggest draw.
However, the best stunt of the night may been when a young female fan was invited onstage and executed a perfect high-speed version of the now-famous handshake from that “Stressed Out” video with Dun. (Watch it here, at about 0:43.) No doubt it had taken some hard work to learn that handshake.