On Nov. 2, Twenty One Pilots, alongside openers Awolnation and Max Frost, took the stage in front of the sold-out State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA.
At 9 pm, the lights dimmed, the curtain dropped, and lead singer Tyler Joseph walked slowly on stage holding a flaming torch and wearing a symbolic yellow bandana across his face. The crowd screamed at the top of their lungs as Joseph dropped the torch and crawled onto a flaming car rising out of the stage.
The first track on the Bandito tour setlist was “Jumpsuit,” the first single from the band’s fifth studio album Trench. After playing their third single, “Levitate,” the band launched into six songs from previous albums — “Fairly Local,” “Stressed Out,” “Heathens,” “We Don’t Believe What’s on TV,” “The Judge,” and “Lane Boy”. Following those songs, and a performance of the group’s new song “Nico and the Niners,” a lighted bridge descended from the ceiling, hanging over the pit as Joseph and drummer Josh Dun crossed over to the B Stage.
Once on the B stage, Joseph and Dun sat down at a piano and drum set, respectively, and asked the audience to take their seats. The next four songs that followed were more mellow than the others. Lights came down from the ceiling and surrounded the two as they dedicated the upcoming section of the concert to their fathers.
One performance in particular that stood out was of the song “Pet Cheetah,” a track from Trench. I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the song until I saw the duo perform it live. The stage presence of the two performers, elaborate moving sets, intricate sequences of lights, and the high level of energy in the arena combined to make it one of the best performances of the night.
The opening acts weren’t quite as good as Twenty One Pilots but they still put on an amazing show. One of the two openers was Awolnation, a rock band that rose to popularity for their 2011 song “Sail”. The group played a short opening set but returned halfway through the show alongside singer-songwriter Max Frost to perform two cover songs with Twenty One Pilots. The three artists collaborated to put a unique spin on “Iris,” originally by the Goo Goo Dolls, and “Hey Jude,” originally by the Beatles.
Joseph and Dun’s stage presence was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. There were sequences in which Joseph climbed into the pit and the attendees standing in general admission held him up with their hands while he sang. Similarly, and somewhat more impressively, the fans also held up an entire drum set as Dun clambered on top of it, playing a drum solo literally in the hands of hundreds of people.
However, their stage presence was equally as powerful during songs that weren’t quite as energetic. The band finished off their show with an emotional performance of “Trees,” a slower song from their third studio album Vessel. Joseph and Dun both remained in one place — at the piano and the drums, respectively — throughout the piece. The duo was as captivating during this heartfelt interlude as they were earlier in the night running across the stage and leaping into the crowd.
Onstage, the setup and special effects, which included flaming cars, fiery torches, confetti cannons, and smoke machines, were absolutely stunning. In addition, the lighting throughout the show was phenomenal. The colorful beams of light changed color schemes frequently, accurately capturing the mood of each individual song. The vibe in the arena shifted with each song, and the lighting helped to dramatically reflect that shift.
I can conclude with absolute certainty that Twenty One Pilots’ Bandito tour was the best concert I’ve ever been to. Seeing one of my favorite bands live was a surreal experience that I would never trade for anything else. Joseph, Dun, and their entire team put on an incredible show. The way in which they performed each song was unique and engaged the audience more than I’ve ever seen from any other artist.