Venue vs Festival: Twenty One Pilots

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Twenty One Pilots are one of the biggest bands in the world right now. Since the release of Blurryface in 2015, they’ve been on the rise and have gone from playing tiny O2 Academy’s to headlining Wembley Arena and Saturday night at Reading Festival 2019.

Being a fan of the band since around 2013, I’ve been lucky enough to see them play five times at five different venues over the years. And, however much I denied this fact for so long, they’re a band that performs best to a large, festival audience.

The first time I saw the band play was in 2015 in Oxford’s O2 Academy. With a relatively small capacity, it was immense to watch Tyler and Josh perform. Supported by Jeremy Loops, it was definitely a night to remember.

However, the next time I went to see them was at a bigger venue – Portsmouth Guildhall. Since then, each time I have travelled to see the band play live, the venues and capacities have grown bigger and bigger. From an O2 Academy, to a Guildhall, to Ally Pally, and then to Wembley Arena, I have some amazing memories from their performances. And, most recently, I watched them perform at Reading Festival last year. I was apprehensive before their performance, thinking back to how much I loved the intimacy I had experienced at previous shows of theirs, but I was blown away by the end of their set.

Opening with ‘Jumpsuit’, accompanied by a burning car on stage, the noise of the crowd blew me away. Unlike other shows of theirs, not everyone in the crowd would’ve been watching the stage just for them – after all, Post Malone was due on stage after them. Despite this fact, everyone I saw in the crowd was as equally as excited and as impressed as I was at their performance.

Trench is the best album of theirs to be performed at a festival. So many of its tracks, including ‘My Blood’ and ‘Chlorine’, are ideal for a large crowd due to their noisy energy. ‘Heathens’ was also a great hit with the crowd, being one of their most famous songs.

It’s somehow even better watching a band you’ve loved for years perform at such a large capacity. Once I got over the petty jealousy of them not being ‘my band’ anymore (cringe, but something that’s inevitable with the number and variety of times I’ve seen them), I realised how special it was to be in the crowd experiencing a communal reaction to the magnificence of Twenty One Pilots.

As a frontman, Tyler is definitely best suited to a larger audience and festival environment too. His stage presence is immense, with his typical energetic traits (including climbing to high places), being properly showcased. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to climb as high as he usually does (safety rules at Reading are probably stricter than those in smaller venues), but his energy came across just as powerful as usual.

Despite the fact that I could barely make out their figures on stage, Twenty One Pilots’ performance at Reading Festival couldn’t have been better. As the crowd cheered at Josh’s ‘Holding Onto You’ backflip, and at Tyler’s unique frontman stage presence, it was a moment that will stay with me forever.

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Live Editor 2019/20 & third year English student. Can usually be found procrastinating my degree at a gig, or trying (and failing) to complete my Goodreads challenge

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