Twenty One Pilots made me an ‘Oh, Ms. Believer’

Twenty One Pilots not only appreciated their past, but also pushed the boundaries of their own dexterity as an alternative rock band at their concert.

Twenty+One+Pilots+perform+at+Bridgestone+Arena%2C+as+photographed+on+Sept.+7%2C+2022+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FJosh+Rehders%29.

Josh Rehders

Twenty One Pilots perform at Bridgestone Arena, as photographed on Sept. 7, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders).

Chloe Pryor

On Sept. 7, I did not plan on attending a Twenty One Pilots concert. I was going to go back to my dorm, write notes for my political science class and scarf down some mediocre Commons food. But, after taking an on-the-spot ticket offer, I was rushing to my room, ransacking my closet and Ubering to Bridgestone Arena. I’ve never listened to Twenty One Pilots religiously, but I know their biggest hits like “Ride” and “Heathens.” Beyond that, I was voyaging into the unknown. 

When I arrived, there was a line halfway across the building bustling with people from all walks of life. The costumes and outfits people were wearing made me feel even more unprepared and underdressed. Some even wore cloaks, dark makeup and black ski masks like the ones the duo of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun were wearing for the performance. After finding my seat, I realized two things: I was really early, and Twenty One Pilot fans do not mess around. Even though the show had not officially started, the atmosphere was loaded with anticipation.

The opening act was Peter McPoland, who is known for hits like “Romeo & Juliet” and “News At 9.” He hopped on stage wearing a Nashville Predators jersey, trying to blend in with the Nashville crowd like a first-year wearing Vandy merch on their first day. You could instantly tell that he was a ball of energy with all of his running, leaping, rolling, head banging and even smashing of his drum. The man knew how to explode on stage. His vocals were decent, but it was hard to understand the lyrics, so singing along was practically impossible. 

Peter McPoland performs at Bridgestone Arena, as photographed on Sept. 7, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders).
Peter McPoland performs at Bridgestone Arena, as photographed on Sept. 7, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders). (Josh Rehders)

The band, on the other hand, was sensational! The guitarist stole my attention with how magnified the sound was; my ears didn’t stand a chance against the onslaught of each chord. The opening act did its job amping up the crowd, and even though I couldn’t sing the song, I could definitely feel it. 

While the opener was short, it left plenty of time for the elaborate setup for Twenty One Pilots. Deafening screams engulfed the arena when Twenty-One Pilots eventually surfaced from below the stage, sporting ski masks with plain, white long-sleeve t-shirts. When the concert started, I could feel my heart pulsating in my ears. The eruption of each beat, of each song, of each graphic made me realize that this was going to be the best Wednesday of my life!

Everyone in attendance knew that when the arena went black something was going to happen—whether that be an electric sound, fire, ice, explosion or the start of a classic Twenty One Pilots anthem. Both Joseph and Dun’s vibrant personalities were showcased throughout the night, which made the concert more personal. It was like the audience got a piece of them. Tyler Joseph even ran through the crowd to get from the piano to the opposite side of the stadium. At one point, Dun slammed on the drums while on a platform held up by the crowd—the same platform that Joseph launched off into the crowd. 

Twenty One Pilots perform at Bridgestone Arena, as photographed on Sept. 7, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders).
Twenty One Pilots perform at Bridgestone Arena, as photographed on Sept. 7, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders). (Josh Rehders)

The show also had some humorous moments, like when Joseph dedicated this performance to Belmont University due to applying to the school and being rejected—evidently still a sore subject today.

Both members had their costume changes, switching masks, hats and glasses. Joseph wore different robes and dipped his hands in black ink in signature Twenty One Pilots style. 

We have all done the flashlight wave concert cliche, but Twenty One Pilots did it a bit differently. Instead of having everyone turn their lights on at the same time, Joseph provided cues, orchestrating the lights like a conductor. It was stunning to see thousands of people create such a moment where we collectively worked together to make a symphony out of the lights. The audience got to be a part of a vision, and that vision was breathtaking. 

The artists also made emotional ties to the past during the concert. Joseph played one song from each record the band had recorded, stating “Me you and the piano—which is how it all started.” Hearing the old songs one by one, each one resembling the ticking of a clock that led to the present was a stunning moment to take in. 

Twenty One Pilots perform at Bridgestone Arena, as photographed on Sept. 7, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders).
Twenty One Pilots perform at Bridgestone Arena, as photographed on Sept. 7, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders). (Josh Rehders)

Throughout the show, the duo paid clever homage to the rock stars of yesterday, from billowing in the style of Freddy Mercury with the crowd to performing a cover of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Having these intimate moments was a reprieve from the hard hitting music and drum solos and tied the audience together as a group, not just another crowd. 

Leaving the concert, I heard a girl sitting in the seat behind me articulate something that I couldn’t. 

“Every emotion you can feel, I felt four times,” she said. 

This show didn’t just shock or inspire me, it imprinted itself as a core memory. Everyone takes pictures and videos at concerts, but at this one, I didn’t; each moment engrained itself in my head. Thank you, to Twenty One Pilots, for tuning my meager Wednesday into a night I’ll hold onto forever.