27 July 2015


Cool Saturday afternoon with no threats of rain. You’d think everyone has already flocked to the malls, but Alabang Town Center (ATC) was met with light foot traffic. But then again, this was Muntinlupa, south of the metro, where the residents are known to take it easy.

At the shopping complex’ activity center, things were a little more interesting. A stage was set up and people gathered by the barricades. A shopper, obviously unaware of what was happening that day, asked the security guard, “Who’s performing?”

To those who had no clue, the baby grand piano might’ve deceived them and made them think that a crooner was dropping by. When the show started at 5 p.m., two masked men took to the stage and amplified the noise that the screaming crowd was making.

It was Twenty One Pilots’ debut performance in the Philippines and they treated the July 18th ATC concert no different than their other shows. Singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun have a reputation for outrageous behavior — all in the name of good fun — and they served it up along with their genre-defying songs, which lyrics and inflections the audience knew by heart.

The duo began with Heavydirtysoul, the opening track of their newly released album, “Blurryface.” Tyler sang on a microphone suspended in air, speculated by some fans as representative of a noose; but if you asked us, it was simply a visually appealing arrangement.

As expected, Tyler was all over the place, meaning he sprinted, got atop the piano, jumped down from it and back on it again. By the third number, Tyler dove into the pit and rapped the first few verses of Holding On To You while being carried by the lucky few who were staying where he landed. Josh also got into the action and somersaulted from the piano to the ground (was that piano ever for playing?).

Tyler Joseph scales one of the nearby pillars.
To be honest, a concert at a mall is quite an odd affair. People go there for different reasons and while a public space, aren’t guests entitled to a piece of privacy? Imagine how a customer at the adjacent café, who wanted nothing but to sit in silence, felt when the audience shrieked, “Somebody stole / my car radio / and now I just sit in silence.” For the ticket-holder’s part, it may be unfair that interested passers-by can watch for free. In addition, it must be difficult to head-bang when others are staring.

But Twenty One Pilots and their “Skeleton Clique” were caught in a world of their own, with an understanding that “sometimes quiet is violent” and if music were curative, they’d take it wherever they could find it, onlookers be damned.

In a GIST exclusive interview, Tyler explained that Blurryface is a made-up character symbolizing a person’s insecurities. “People are drawn to music. We say the things they’re afraid to say, we are their outlet,” he shared. A segment of the entertainment scene may communicate empowerment and it’s admirable but, when overdone, is also alienating. We have our inner rockstar, yes, but we also have our inner Blurryface, who, whether we admit it or not, care about what other people think.

And this honesty, which is far from self-deprecation, expressed in rhyme, catchy melody and energetic beats, is why we trust Twenty One Pilots to take us on a musical ride.

It doesn’t hurt that they’re a riot on — and off — stage. Tyler has a habit of climbing whatever he could climb and when we thought this antic wouldn’t be possible in such a family-oriented establishment, the singer scaled one of the nearby pillars.

For the finale, Josh and Tyler each banged on an acoustic drum poured with water — at the mosh pit, above the crowd.

The show only lasted for an hour but everyone had a satisfied look on their face after. Twenty One Pilots brought sixty minutes of madness to an otherwise peaceful south, and we were all the better for it.

—Originally published on GIST.PH

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