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Tour De Express Live: Photographing Twenty One Pilots

Welcome Home I-/

Following the famed success of their second album Blurryface, the Grammy-award winning duo Twenty One Pilots returned to their hometown of Columbus, Ohio for five days of nostalgic and momentous concerts (and an art show). “Tour De Columbus” as it is called, brought clique members from all over the world to take part in an experience like no other. Over the course of the five days, fans who received codes in the Spring for select dates and venues were given the opportunity to purchase tickets for three intimate venues (The Basement, Newport Music Hall, and Express Live) or two final arena shows from the Blurryface era (Nationwide and Schottenstein). The hype started on June 20th at The Basement: a 300 capacity venue where Josh and Tyler first started their journey back in 2013 following the release of their debut album Regional At Best. The intimacy of the venue was described as “breathtaking” by some; fans could just reach out and touch the duo’s hands.

The second concert took place at Newport Music Hall, where fans had camped out for almost five days prior to the show. Their third show (at Express Live) had a venue capacity of 5,200 that was filled to the brim. I was lucky enough to be one of those fans and used my opportunity to photograph the band up-close. As I entered the venue, I was hit with the smell of Pyro gas and was captivated by the outfits of the clique members. The night started with the opener Mutemath, who had previously collaborated with TØP to “re-visualize” four of their Blurryface songs and “Heathens”. The quirky and smooth metallic sounds by vocalist Paul Meany backed by drummer Darren King, guitarist Todd Gummerman, and bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas, filled the amphitheater with a serene-pop vibe.

After having minor difficulties with the projector, at 9:30pm the monotonous sounds that signal the beginning of a Twenty One Pilots set cut off. Immediately a video started to play about the journey of Tour De Columbus. Once the curtain dramatically dropped into “Fairly Local,” the screams of thousands of clique members echoed, and the two-man band appeared on stage in their signature red jacket suits and black ski masks. Even though I was only able to photograph the angelic duo for three songs, the spunk and connection they developed with the crowd were prodigious. Following along with their Emotional Roadshow setlist, they played many of their recent songs like “Heathens” and “Stressed Out,” and also threw in “Jump Around” to engage the crowd in some old-school action. Rather than performing the original versions, Mutemath joined them on stage to play the eccentric remixes of “Lane Boy” and “Tear In My Heart.”

Just like old times, Tyler Joseph gave his inspiring mid-show speech, dedicating it to the support of their families, and reflecting on their road to success. He took a few moments to honor the music video for “Stressed Out” which had hit one billion views just hours before they took the stage. I have yet to muster up the words to aptly describe the night because it was more than just superb or amazing. Tour De Columbus was an experience that no attendee will forget, and it was an amazing way to send-off the Blurryface Era.

Remember, stay alive friends I-/

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Written by Cassandra Kuhn

Concert-loving, travel addict who is aspiring to be a decent journalist UF'21

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