June 30, 2016 Twenty One Pilots Take Down Mohegan Sun Arena Uncasville, CT 6-17-16 w/ Mutemath & Chef’Special
When Twenty One Pilots first hit the scene back in 2009, fans were a bit unsure of what they were listening to. Was it Rap? Was it Pop? Was it Rock? The answer to those questions is “Yes.” Twenty One Pilots is all that and more. Self-described as Schizoid Pop, the music created by Vocalist/Keyboardist Tyler Joseph and Drummer Josh Dun flows across the genre pool like a self-styled wave of free-flowing, rapid-fire lyrics, plunking keys, and frenzied drumming. Once they were picked up by Fueled by Ramen 2012, the duo hit the big time and became one of the hottest bands around. Their most recent album, 2015’s Blurryface, rocked the music charts, especially with the third single, “Stressed Out,” peaking on both the Alternative and Hot Rock charts. This past May, Twenty One Pilots set out with New Orleans natives Mutemath and Dutch Alt Pop band Chef’Special for the Emotional Roadshow; an extended tour that finishes up in August in a sold out show at Madison Square Garden. Amidst all the excitement overtaking the nation, on Friday June 17th, they arrived at the Mohegan Sun Casino Arena for a spectacular show that left the audience breathless.
The night kicked off with Chef’Special. The Netherland natives’ lineup consists of Lead Vocalist Joshua Nolet, Guitarist Guido Joseph, Bassist Jan Derks, Keyboard player Wouter Heeren, and Drummer Wouter Jerry Prudon. Their most recent album, a self titled EP through Fueled by Ramen, was released in 2015. With their fork and spoon logo flashing behind them, Chef’Special warmed up the crowd with “Amigo.” The funky, fun “Money” was up next before the slower, more serious “Eden.” With a bit of a Bob Marley Reggae sound, Nolet continued on with the night with “Peculiar,” “Biggest Monkey,” “Carnivore,” and “In Your Arms.” It is no surprise that Chef’Special left Connecticut that night with many more fans than they had when they had come in.
Next on stage was Alt Rock band Mutemath, a psychedelic throwback to the origins of Rock. The crowd recognized them immediately and roared in their approval. The group consists of Lead Vocalist and Keyboardist Paul Meany, Drummer Darren King, Guitarist Todd Gummerman, and Bassist Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas, although they all tend to jump around between instruments. Mutemath started out in 2002 with a basic Techno sound and eventually evolved into a more Rock/Electronica hybrid, releasing their first EP, titled Reset, in 2004. Their most recent album was 2015’s Vitals. Over the years, they have had music featured in video games (Need For Speed: Most Wanted 2012), movies (Twilight 2008, Never Back Down 2008, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 2008) and even created the “Transformers Theme” for the 2007 live action film.
For their show at the Mohegan Sun Arena, the group played quite a few of their hit singles including the wailing “Typical;” the title track from the 2004 EP, which was hugely popular with the crowd, and “Spotlight;” a popping dance tune and the first single from 2009’s Armistice, exciting Twilight fans across the boards. The lineup also included the second single from 2011’s Odd Soul, the twangy, juiced up “Blood Pressure,” along with newer songs from last year’s Vitals: the Black Keys-esque “Used To,” the Disero remix of “Monument,” and the fantastic instrumental “Light Up.” At one point, Meany was even swinging a corded light over his head like a glowing lasso. Make sure to check out these Grammy nominees for some eclectic, yet beautiful Electronica, especially the pared down album, Vitals, as soon as possible.
Finally it was time for the headliners, Twenty One Pilots. Like a pressure cooker ready to pop, when the duo hit the stage, the entire venue exploded with energy. With that, the stage lit up with blue lasers and fog filled the air as Joseph beat out the chorus to “Fairly Local” before jumping right into the trilling beats of “Heavydirtysoul,” two songs from last year’s Blurryface. Spotlights flashed around the stage as Dun wailed away at the kit, and although the audience could hear him, the vocalist was nowhere to be seen. Then, from behind the curtain, came Joseph – as the light settled on them, it became clear that they were both wearing their infamous balaclavas and suit jackets. When “Migraine” began, the crowd sang the opening lyrics to the jaunty tune. Next up were a few more new songs including “Hometown” and “Polarize,” before the peppy Bluegrass stylings of “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV” that opened with a few lyrics from “House of Gold.” Keeping the mood dynamic, things slowed down a bit for the acoustic Mumford & Sons-like “The Judge” and then, like a roller coaster, it took a 180 for the purely Electronic “Lane Boy.” Then, with stage lights flashing, Joseph sat down at the piano for “Ode to Sleep” before the laborious “Old Song Medley” (AKA “The Pantaloon / Fall Away / Johnny Boy / Forest / Addict with a Pen / March to the Sea / Kitchen Sink”) kicked off as the stage swirled with color.
Continuing to excite the crowd, Joseph bravely stepped nimbly out onto the hands of the crowd for fan-favorite “Holding On to You.” An exhlirating moment, he went on to remind everyone that the duo had previously played Mohegan Sun as an opening act, making the venue special to them. Appreciative of the supporting acts on the tour, he re-introduced each of them, and together, they sang a cover of The Top Notes’ “Twist and Shout” as well as Céline Dion’s 1999 Titanic soundtrack hit “My Heart Will Go On,” with Joseph singing and playing guitar while the rest of the boys stood in the backdrop and snapped their fingers to the music. In a surreal turn of events, the vocalist broke out into Justin Beiber’s “Love Yourself,” and House of Pain’s ’90s hit “Jump Around,” completing the offering of some interesting cover selections.
From there on, there was still more to come as the energy soared when the opening licks of “Stressed Out” blasted from the speakers – a special Paul Meany remix – before the mega hit “Guns for Hands” where Joseph actually climbed into a giant, red hamster ball and rolled his way over the crowd, trusting them to keep him safely in the air. Accomplishing the feat without any injury, he returned to the stage for “Tear in My Heart,” and when the slow, steady thumping of “Car Radio” began, the crowd sang as one entity, throwing back their heads and belting the introspective lyrics. Gracious for the audience’s positive response, they closed out the evening thanking everyone and asking their permission to come back and play for them again soon. Seeming as if the show had all but ended, only a few minutes passed before they stepped back out into the center of their splendid light show for a two song encore that included “Goner” and “Trees,” where the duo wrapped the set up completely by bringing a pair of kettle drums out into the audience. Standing on their outstretched hands and pounding the instruments into the song’s climax, the drums exploded in a shower of colorful confetti making for an epic finale to an equally epic performance.
This night spent with Twenty One Pilots, Mutemath, and Chef’Special is one not soon forgotten by Connecticut music lovers, and many in the crowd talked about following the band to their next show at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. The huge, thirty-nine show Emotional Roadshow tour, which began on May 31st in Cincinnati, Ohio, will continue on until August 10th for at least one sold out show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This is not a show any music fan should miss, as Twenty One Pilots has a sound that any listener will love. Answering Joseph and Dun’s question, it is safe to say Connecticut would openly welcome Twenty One Pilots’ return very soon.Photos by Dennis Brunelle