The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Twenty One Pilots without a Plane

Emma Terhaar | Sunday, February 3, 2013


An ocean of telemetronic beats, dubstep drops, banging drums pulsing upwards, breaking into lilting, waving piano and clear vocals.  Genre smashing, hipster rapping, one of MTV’s “13 Artists to Watch in 2013,” Twenty One Pilots put on an incredible show at Legends on Saturday night.  

I left the concert sweaty, tired, hoarse and completely confused as to why I had never heard of the band before and what they were doing playing a half-full Legends.  

Their music is difficult to describe.  Each song was energetic, fun, creative and really easy to dance to.  I spent the entire show jumping up and down, booty popping and doing the Bernie. 

Vocalist Tyler Joseph was a pretty fun rapper talking about his hatred of Sundays and other nerdy white college boy complaints, while still creating a sound that was a little scary and full of drops. Most songs started with some lines of rap accompanied by heavy bass and drumbeat. 

They’d soon break into alternative piano pop for a few verses, proceeding to interweave the two sounds together.  If Eminem went to a liberal arts college and then joined Neon Trees, he would make music like this. 

The two-person group started the show wearing skeleton costumes and would sometimes put ski masks over their heads before starting a song.  This might have seemed weird at any other concert, but for them, it just sort of made sense.  

In between songs, Joseph would pull the old “make small talk with the crowd as we retune our guitars and catch our breath for the next song” bit.  Despite how much I normally hate that, they were actually charming.  Drummer Josh Dun sat laughing and watching Joseph call out members of the crowd, inviting one kid on stage and at one point telling the audience that they are not gay, despite many of their fans and concert goers thinking they are.  

It was hard not to like both the band members and not want to root for their self-proclaimed “weird songs.”  They paired crowd favorites like “Ode to Sleep” and “Car Radio,” with a ukulele cover of “I’m Yours” so we could sing along. Every audience member wanted nothing more than to convince these two kids to come hang out off campus after the show.

The opening band “New Politics” was a little bit less weird but a whole lot more British.  The group played straight hipster pop, and had everyone in the crowd screaming and jumping up and down to “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” which closed out their set and will probably be one of the next songs I buy on iTunes.  

Two final conclusions: MTV still knows what they’re talking about, and Twenty One Pilots would make an awesome SUB concert.

 Contact Emma Terhaar at