Live Reviews

LIVE REVIEW: Twenty One Pilots, Livestream Experience (Live Stream), 21/05/2021

Photo Credit – Mason Castillo

Live music is the lifeblood for a band like Twenty One Pilots. From grafting hard from the ground up in 500 capacity venues in their hometown of Columbus, Ohio to taking headline tours across the world, putting on a spectacle of backflips, illusions and music that connects a clique together like no other modern-day alternative-rock duo has done before. 

But what happens when the red and yellow confetti is long gone in the past and in the age of the current music industry, where live shows depleted and bands were forced into the confines of recording studios, releasing albums and the supporting live streams that come with it? How would a band on the brink of releasing their colourfully upbeat sixth studio album Scaled and Icy come to terms with not touring and taking their strong artistic visions like frontman Tyler Joseph’s most inner creative and inspirational thoughts of life to a live show. 

However, Twenty One Pilots most recent livestream experience brought the duos candid expressions and wild imaginations to life like no other livestream has done over the last fourteen months, with brighter, bolder sights bringing Scaled and Icy and the bands otherwise colour themed back catalogue to life with an hour long carefully choreographed, musical and visual masterpiece of an experience. This is the stunningly immersive story of Scaled and Icy.  

Opening the cleverly condensed set live from Los Angeles, Twenty One Pilots travelled back to the dystopian world of Dema, the fictional setting for the bands two previous LPs to start the stream, as Joseph sits between two of the organisation’s members on a funky retro sofa. Desperate to escape this dark, twisted world, he transforms from the past to the present, bursting onto the dragon mascot and a beaming rainbow setup for the brightly coloured world of album Scaled and Icy with second single Choker

Changing camera perspectives and big visual production is something the livestream experience doesn’t skimp on one bit and translates this immersive Scaled and Icy universe to our screens, as the newly pastel pink haired singer gives us an insight into his perplexing mind. Despite the dazzling aesthetics, underneath its fun filled bleeping surface, the song has a darker subject matter of self-sabotage, isolation and loneliness, as Joseph mourns “Self-sabotage is a sweet romance/Seems like all I’m worth is what I’m able to withstand/Sooner I can realize that pain is just a middlemanduring the opening song of the livestream set.  

Whilst the livestream was in celebration of the release of the bands brand new album Scaled and Icy, the setlist featured songs spanning the course of Twenty One Pilots discography. Genre defying third studio album Vessel travelled back to 2013, as tracks such as fan favourite Migraine, Holding On To You, Trees and the smash hit single Car Radio featured in the stream. 

Normally closing out the Twenty One Pilots setlists on tour, Trees followed in the shadows of the ukulele rendition of standalone single Heathens, situated in the middle of the streams set. Sitting in a rowing boat under a sky full of stars for the slow stunning version of the song, Joseph is taken on a journey down the sea, very much similar to the spiritual truth-seeking voyage the lyrics talk about in the track. 

Later on, the importantly introspective Car Radio made a blue laser themed appearance to the live stream experience. Adorned with the synonymous Twenty One Pilots face balaclava in representation of the mythology behind the masks and the deeper faceless meaning the duo have prided themself on for the best part of a decade, Joseph’s melodic rapping mixed with his somber vocals are accompanied by cold piano chords that all add a certain stillness to the performance, before the euphoric electronics build slowly to climax in the famously desperate “And now I just sit in silence” screams. 

Delving into the black and red aesthetics of next record Blurryface with career defining single Stressed Out, Lane Boy, Heavydirtysoul and the rock influenced reggae Ride. Remixing the most renowned Twenty One Pilots song to date, this version of Stressed Out features more pimped-up production value opposed to its original downbeat atmosphere.  

The genre blurring Heavydirtysoul saw the duo of bassist and vocalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun performing in front of the famous fire ablaze car, a nostalgic nod to the Blurryface era of the band. A passionate performance at its best, its booming industrial sound paired with Dun’s crashing cymbals alongside Joseph’s spoken word rhymes and sneering screams that beg “Can you save my heavydirtysoul?” amp up the live stream dramatics to a whole other level.  

2018’s Trench didn’t go missed throughout the Columbus cohorts extravagant livestream experience either, with tracks such as Morph, Chlorine and Jumpsuit all making the cut. The first, Morph provided a stark reality to the live stream world music is living in right now, in a time where live shows have been sorely missed. Calling out into the abyss, the frontman says “Hello out there” to a virtual crowd asking the tens of thousands of audience members who typically make up a sold-out Twenty One Pilots gig to “Repeat after me” in the bands traditional call and response interaction in the opening moments of Morph.

Transitioning from the depths of Dema to the pastel colours of latest LP Scaled and Icy songs such as singles Shy Away, Saturday and deep cuts Mulberry Street, Redecorate, The Outside and Never Take It get their first live performance outing. Mulberry Street and No Chances get a spectacular Broadway-esque show stopping display; two performances that firmly cement this livestream as one of the best to be put on in the past fourteen months and beyond. Choreographed dancing in the street and big group numbers sees the Vessel sounding piano led track, Mulberry Street and the starkly contrasting crossover of the almost nod to album Blurryface in the form of alternative hip hop meets rap-rock track No Chances come to life, before Joseph would return to take on the breezy electric guitar track Never Take It.   

In a change of setting for latest Scaled and Icy single Saturday, the duo are in a decked out retro room full of people playing brass instruments and singing along to the feel-good vibe of the anthemic pop bop. A spinning disco ball illuminates the funky surroundings for the most upbeat party in town, full of dancers and Joseph finding his weekend ready rhythm in an otherwise laid back and relaxed dressing gown. 

Making their way back to the couch for triumphant closer Choker, Twenty One Pilots’ livestream experience lived up to its hype. From easter eggs and hidden gems only the Clique would catch onto, to the sheer scale and the mind-boggling production value that visually exhibited this whole new three-dimensional story of Scaled and Icy all in bright, upbeat and very modern style.    

 10/10 

Written By: Katie Conway-Flood 


Twenty One Pilots new album Scaled and Icy is out now via Fueled By Ramen. You can read our review of the release here and stream/download the album from HERE.

Katie Conway-Flood
Katie Conway-Flood is a music journalist, music publicist and general band enthusiast. For several years, since graduating university with a first class degree in music business, Katie has written single, album and live reviews, and regularly contributed to news stories and feature pieces for a plethora of online music publications. Katie is otherwise a pop-punk, pop-rock listener and ethical vegan.