Twenty One Pilots get conceptual on Trench | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Twenty One Pilots get conceptual on Trench

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Beyoncé has her Beyhive and Taylor Swift fans call themselves Swifties, but no current pop fandom rocks ski masks or face paint quite like the Skeleton Clique—the devotees of Twenty One Pilots, the Columbus-based duo famous for obscuring their faces with dramatic skeleton makeup and other disguises onstage. Members of the Clique follow the band from concert to concert and sometimes camp out overnight—even in extreme weather—to snag prime tickets to their shows. Twenty One Pilots formed as a rock trio in 2009, then morphed into a duo in 2011 when two-thirds of the group left, leaving founding vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Joseph to team up with new drummer Josh Dun. The band—whose name refers to an incident in an Arthur Miller play—released three studio albums and a handful of EPs before releasing 2015’s Blurryface. TOP work with a framework of pop and alternative rock, with angsty lyrics about existential concepts, but they also incorporate elements of hip-hop, electronica, and reggae. Their broad-ranging sound might explain how Blurryface became such a breakout success. The album’s fourth single, “Stressed Out” (a nostalgic look at the carefree days of childhood), made it to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2016, and Blurryface eventually became the first album in the digital era to have every track certified either gold or platinum by the RIAA. Twenty One Pilots’ most recent full-length, 2018’s Trench (Fueled by Ramen), is a concept album set in the fictional city of Dema. Like Blurryface, it incorporates a variety of genres and instrumentations, but the music leans harder on the bass. The songs explore weighty themes such as friendship and brotherhood (“My Blood”) and the ebb and flow of creativity (“Chlorine”), but don’t expect their live show to be a downer: not only do they engage in lots of give-and-take with the audience during their lengthy sets, but Joseph might strum a ukulele while singing Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and Dun likes to do backflips off a piano.   v

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