twenty one pilots and thousands of their devoted fans converge for The Bandito Tour at a sold out Friday night show in Boston.
From the moment the giant curtain fell to reveal a lone masked bandito armed with a torch, twenty one pilots had the capacity TD Garden crowd on their feet. Singer "Tyler Joseph" emerges masked, slinging a bass guitar, rising from a trap door on top of a burning car for Trench opener "Jumpsuit" while confetti "ash" fell from the rafters - just like their recent American Music Awards performance.
I surround Tyler's name with quotes because we can't be sure it's him performing on-stage to start the show! Towards the end of "Fairly Local" "Tyler" trustfalls backwards through the trapdoor and another bandito almost simultaneously emerges not far behind my seat in the lower bowl. This bandito removes his mask to reveal the actual Tyler Joseph in some David Copperfield-level misdirection and theatricality.
twenty one pilots achieved unparalleled mainstream success for an alternative music act these past few years, but they built their name and reputation on a compelling, explosive, and engaging live show. Their impressive, ambitious creativity ensures a cinematic experience touches every person in a sold out arena. And a large segment of that audience sported bright yellow reflective tape to match the aesthetic and deep concepts Tyler explores on Trench.
After a short video, a cable lowers Tyler's iconic red knit cap to the stage. He dons it and ushers in a block of tunes from the Blurryface era. Massive hits "Stressed Out" and "Heathens" preface a handful of fan fave deep cuts.
As "Lane Boy" careens through drummer Josh Dun's ferocious breakdown elevated ten feet on a scissor platform, two men in hazmat suits emerge aiming smoke guns at the crowd ushering us back to Trench. A catwalk lowers during "Nico And The Niners" so Tyler can make his way across TD Garden, suspended above the crowd, to a second stage near the soundboard towards the rear of the pit. Between songs, Josh interepidly makes the trip by foot.
Members of the Skeleton Clique - as twenty one pilots diehards are called - would be quick to correct casual fans that the band has five albums, not three. The short B-stage set opened with little-heard debut album track "Taxi Cab", "One of the first songs I ever put a rap inside of," Tyler said. Transparent screens envelop the small, square stage for the block of somber Trench deep cuts. Neon light rods suspended within the screens create three dimensional shapes as projectors display Tyler and Josh on the screens' surface.
Once back on the main stage, Tyler invites openers Max Frost and Awolnation out for workmanlike covers of Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" and The Beatles' "Hey Jude".
During an extended bridge inside current single "My Blood", Tyler mentioned falling in love with bass guitar and falsetto singing while making Trench. "Thanks for letting me fumble around up here," he said humbly. "I don't know if I'm any good at singing high so I'm gonna need your help," he adds before ushering in some call-and-response.
For some now-classic twenty one pilots live gimmicks Josh Dun brought back the crowd-surfing drum platform for "Morph" and Tyler Joseph scaled his way up to a narrow platform behind the soundboard for the electric finalé of fan-favorite Vessel track "Car Radio".
As closing track "Trees" builds to a crescendo, Tyler spookily rises higher towards the rear of the stage. Eventually we see him stand on the same burnt out car from "Jumpsuit". Then Tyler and Josh break out the floor toms and two more crowd-supported platforms - pounding the drums amidst smoke jets and confetti cannons to bring the show to its thrilling cathartic conclusion.