On Saturday, three bands took the stage at the Greensboro Coliseum. Judah & The Lion, Jon Bellion and the 2017 Grammy award winner for best pop duo, Twenty One Pilots. Within a few short hours this show suddenly became one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, and let me tell you why.
Picture this: the lights cut off, the sold out Coliseum crowd screams.
The lights reappear, the stage is bright again and the opener Judah & the Lion start the concert off hype, with lead singer Judah Acker’s raspy voice, and crowds already feeling the music in a unison wave of their hands.
Judah & The Lion save their loose and quirky dancing for their shows, which features all the band member’s performing simultaneous high kicks and jumps. Suddenly the bass hits, Ackers drops to the floor and his fellow bandmates join in a twerking line.
They unleash a track from the past- the beloved “Mr. Brightside,” by The Killers- which makes the fans go crazy singing every word to Acker’s raspy rendition. Then, a secret treat is given to the crowd, a hidden disco ball appears, turning the audience into a dizzying 70s silver dance floor.
Finally, Nate Zuercher, the banjo playing rockstar begins playing, which is more way impressive live than anything recorded. Unfortunately, the only disappointing moment of their performance is their lack of vocals when it came time to sing “Take It All Back,” instead the audience sang mostly for themselves. In good news, Judah & the Lion announced they will be playing at the Fillmore in Charlotte on March 18th in case you are hoping to catch them before they leave.
The lights go out for the second time, and a larger scream is created.
Jon Bellion, a of blend singer-songwriter and rapper, takes stage with the soul singing Travis Mendes. Bellion produces sounds with his mixer that flow with every one of his movements. Sadly, the band was hard to hear, and the lights blinded the audience in the upper seats. Otherwise the duo knew just how to rile up the audience, and appeared to be adored by the crowd.
This was the last time for the lights to go out. Right now is the moment; it’s why dozens of people camped outside for two days in anticipation. The scream became a full-blown roar. I was physically shaking from the love these fans were giving off from their vocal chords.
The long screen that covers the entire stage displays Twenty One Pilots “Blurryface” album cover, and suddenly is ripped off the ceiling and we see a blood red lit background, and “Heavydirtysoul” being played by the black ski-masked duo. As the song closes Tyler Joseph falls straight backward onto the ground and lays there, until he unbelievably reappears standing on a small ledge jutting out from the highest level of seating in the Coliseum. No one around me could possibly understand how.
One of the band’s most heavily played songs, “Heathens,” starts out with Tyler softly playing the piano, until twenty seconds in when the sound of a cocking gun goes off, and the original version blasts out. Frankly, as a fan, this song is overrated, but their was genuine emotions displayed on Tyler’s face as he closed his eyes for half of the song. All you could wonder was: What could he be thinking as thousands of die-hard fans cheer for him? A part of Tyler his fans will never know.
“The Judge” begins to play, one of his few tracks that features Tyler’s skilled ukulele playing. The song takes a serious note as he seems to offer himself up by kneeling away from the audience as he sings the verse, “I don’t know if this song is about me or the devil”. As the track ends Tyler reminds us all, “A show is only as good as its people”. At that moment I could only help to believe him.
Tyler and Josh don’t leave out their softer songs, which features Tyler at the piano and foggy smoke from all the backlit phones being swayed all around at once. Josh performs several drum solo’s which displays prerecorded videos of him playing the drums on the two large screens on both sides of the stage.
Half way through the concert a lovely gesture is given, and all the opening bands come back on stage to perform some of the most popular early 2000’s hits, including “Jump Around,” “Where’s the Love?,” and “Chumbawamba (I Get Knocked Down)”.
Before the last song is played, the audience waits, where did Twenty One Pilots go? Then, light everywhere. The song “Trees” thumps through the speakers, and finishes off the concert with the audience hoisting both Tyler and Josh up as they play drums. Puffs of white smoke shoot from the stage, and red confetti flutters into the pit. The duo gives a bow and gives us their final word: “We are Twenty One Pilots, and so are you!”
The parts that made this a stunning performance are not the backflips or jumps they performed, or the strobe lights and graphics shown. No, what made this show better than any I have seen is the gratefulness in their voices and movements. They genuinely loved what they were doing and told the audience it was for them, not the radio singles which came along as a gift.
Twenty One Pilots even revealed personal videos, such as a black and white video of Josh Dunn’s anxiety, the raw tension in his fear of becoming famous. Another video of the duo simply changing a tire displayed their humility as two people from Columbus, Ohio that made it big.
Their show was for the average person; a break for everyone’s monotonous life. No one understood this better than the fans sitting behind me, Chrysanne Vogt and her family. She had traveled from Connecticut to Greensboro to see them perform for the sixth time. Her devotion was inspiring as she described the show before we saw it for ourselves, “[It’s] life-changing. You are going to want to go on tour with them”.
Next time you have some extra money in hand and friends to tag along you should find the nearest venue, because Twenty One Pilots is not one to miss.