By: Kyle Rutherford, Contributor
Sunshine and cats: that seemed to be the theme at The Union Thursday when Westerville, Ohio’s Twenty One Pilots rolled in to play a free show for a packed house of patrons who seemed happy to be out of the snow.
Opening bands included MBANZA and Dean Tartaglia from Mind Fish, both from Athens.
Tartaglia started the show with only him, his guitar, and a backup electronic drummer. Now, I’ve never listened to Mind Fish until I started writing this review, so I’m not exactly sure if he played any of their songs. But, he played a good amount of stuff that the crowd could easily grasp: a more pop-punk-like set that compares to Weezer, or even a stripped-down Fall Out Boy. The major mindfuck of his set came when he sang a song about his cat, using meow more than most lyrics.
The 8-piece MBANZA came next, donned in face paint and feathers to make themselves look like members of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. Their Folk/Roots set was pretty great, though the younger crowd could only get into it had they had a few drinks in them. The more interesting part of their set came from a vocalist/percussionist who did some sort of a melodic yelling, like the guy singing at the beginning of The Lion King, but with no words. Their covers of “Lotus Flower” by Radiohead and “You Are My Sunshine” were interesting, as well as great.
Last onstage, much to the crowd’s pleasure, was Twenty One Pilots. It’s hard to give these guys a particular style, but I can say they sounded like a more electronic version of Flobots, but with the stage presence and energy of--dare I say it--Hollywood Undead; the rap skills of pretty much any great artist in the game; and a light show comparable to that of Innerpartysystem. By all that, the crowd was wowed. The raw energy coming out of the two members was incredible.
Most of the music played from a laptop controlled by drummer Josh Dun, but Tyler Joseph smoothly transitioned between singing/piano, keyboards, and rapping. The crowd was intense, with constant jumping and alcohol-spilling, though no one seemed to care. Their cover medley included “Steal My Sunshine” by LEN and “It’s Gonna Be Me” by 'N Sync, and everyone ate it up.
A band could be a crowd-pleaser, but not play well musically. But overall, the unsigned Pilots could soon be a force to be reckoned with in the alternative music world.