the stage went black and the cheering of thousands of ecstatic banditøs was ear-splitting. that didn’t stop you from adding your own voice. the moment we had all been waiting for was here – the curtain fell dramatically from the ceiling and the bass began booming.
the flaming car slowly rose from beneath the stage, pouring clouds of smoke into the air and shrouding the stage in a thrillingly foggy veil.
suddenly josh’s torch lit up and he appeared on the stage, walking the length of it before sitting down at his drum kit.
tyler was standing on top of the flaming car, bass guitar slung over his shoulder, and he hopped off and over to his microphone as the song began.
I was seeing them. these were their faces. their living, breathing persons. the enormity of what I was experiencing suddenly struck me – I was in the same room as all of this talent. these were the people I had seen countless videos of – the people who said such beautiful things and changed so many lives. who had been in so many places and through so much difficulty to reach this stage. how?
the car burst into full flame and the crowd sang the verse along with tyler as hundreds of smartphones were held in the air, filming the iconic opening of the set.
confirmed: tyler does not use auto tune
the clique rocked out to jumpsuit and then the music slipped silkily smooth into levitate as josh kicked into the hip-hop drum beat. it was amazing to be able to flawlessly non-stop rap a full song along with hundreds of other people as crazy as you.
the energy. it was inexplicable. it was the energy that bonded together a group of people who sing “the sun will rise and we will try again” together – who could cry together – who could scream together and laugh together and rap together. who know that they had found something beautiful – something special – and had come together to celebrate it. twenty one pilots somehow stands alone in its culture and its community – they’re set apart from the rest of the industry and those who find them and connect with them feel the embodiment of that. and when they all come together and see the testimony of life in front of them, it’s amazing.
and man did those boys put on a heck of a show.
the lights – the visuals – the interaction with the crowd – the stunts – were phenomenal.
it added an extra layer of beauty to the songs – I’ll never hear them the same again. trench tracks like “jumpsuit” and “the hype” I had never really connected with before – but after seeing them live I understood. I’m amazed at how the show changes your conception of the songs – how you associate them differently with what you experienced whilst seeing them live and you feel Josh’s drumming in your bones.
Tyler was so happy – he told us that this was gonna be a great show, and he joked with us, and at the end while spontaneously improvising chords on the keyboard he told us that he wished he could take this room of people across the world with him (after promising that he didn’t say that every night). his final speech melted into trees and left that warm feeling in your soul. it was special.
i had dreamed of seeing trees live for a long time – the song that has been played at the end of every single show for a decade; since the very beginning. the song that Tyler wrote as a broken teenager and managed to make onto three albums.
I wanted to get my handful of trees confetti and keep it in a secret place and cherish it and keep it as proof of my experience. trench trees confetti – yellow and green.
a living token of the tour and of trench and of an era – of a dream that grew and spread over ten years and now reached across the world, covering thousands of people in yellow tape and enabling them to come together and celebrate this dream.
and I got it.
trees was ethereally beautiful – the quiet singing dripping with earnest, raw emotion which lead into the yelling and drumming and that final adrenaline kick spilling from each person into every corner of the room and filling it with one final rallying cry: “hello!”
I didn’t even video it – I wanted to lock every second into my brain and keep it there.
the confetti poured by the ton into the air and hundreds of people strained to grab it and save it, I included. it sealed the whole experience into a small heap of crumpled yellow paper which i stuffed into my coat pocket and hugged all the way home.
“we are twenty one pilots and so are you, thanks for having us tonight. see you next time.”
it was over.
a hush of recollection settled over the fans as they quietly left the arena, even as “we are family” began playing over the speakers. we were family – and as soon as we were outside everyone was chattering about the show with glowing eyes. it was misting in the dark but hundreds of banditøs filed in lines out to the parking garage. we could all feel the connection as we went our separate ways back to our lives.
but in trench, i’m not alone. you’re not alone. we’re not alone.