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Twenty One Pilots takes a big Uptown Theater crowd on a joyous flight

Moments before the duo Twenty One Pilots took the stage at the sold-out Uptown Theater on Sunday night, a disembodied voice that identified itself as Nigel, a robot, told the crowd of about 2,500 that the evening would amount to something much more than just the presentation of live music.

That was an understatement.

For more than 90 minutes, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun unleashed a barrage of pop anthems that ignited fits of delirium and uproarious singalongs from start to finish. Throughout the set they were accompanied by a light show and other visual stimuli that added more flash and pizzazz to the spectacle.

Joseph is a showman in a near constant state of motion, stoking the crowd all night, turning the floor into a sea of raised hands and bobbing bodies. The crowd returned the energy tenfold.

The singing-along was loud and relentless, especially during the chorus to “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Several times, unannounced, Joseph and Dun stopped singing, letting the crowd take over the vocals, and every time the crowd responded thunderously, without missing a beat.

Even during the medley they dedicated to their robot buddy, Nigel, the crowd joined in the call and responses, shouting back the lyrics to DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.”

The music of Twenty One Pilots visits a mix of genres: indie-pop, synth-pop, reggae, hip-hop. And when Joseph employs his ukulele, they can sound like a roots band. In concert, it’s a mix of programmed and live music.

Dun is a heavy, manic banger of drums, and Joseph plays a variety of instruments: piano, keyboards, ukulele, synthesizer, keytar. It all makes a two-man act sound like a full band.

The set list included every track from the “Vessel” album, the duo’s debut full-length on Fueled by Ramen records, and a mix of new material and tracks from previous recordings. It also included a cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness.”

The audience was familiar with everything, new and old. And the crowd up front was enlisted to assist in a few stunts. For one, the road crew hauled out a small drum kit, placed it on a platform that was supported by the fans, and Dun climbed behind the kit and let loose with some heavy riffs.

Later, during “Trees,” the finale, two floor toms were set up amid the crowd up front, and Dun and Joseph pounded out rhythms while machines behind them expelled huge plumes of smoke, and confetti rained upon the crowd on the floor.

It was the perfect ending to a night where the music was but one vital component of a garish and highly entertaining show.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.


Guns for Hands; Migraine; Ode to Sleep; Screen; Can’t Help Falling in Love; House of Gold; Forest; Fall Away; Addict With a Pen; Kitchen Sink; Holding on to You; Semi-Automatic; The Run and Go; Fake You Out; Summertime Sadness. Encore: Car Radio; Truce; Trees.