By: Joseph Kathmann
If there's one band who knows how to put on a good show, it's Twenty One Pilots. Seeing one of the biggest bands on the planet in the height of their prime is a hard thing to do, but that's exactly what I managed to do this past Saturday in Memphis. The crowd knew every word of every song, and the atmosphere was intense as almost the entire arena got a 2 hour glimpse of what certainly became their favorite band by the end of the night. While I'm constantly bothered by the fact that there's only two people on stage despite the numerous layers in their music, it's hard to care about that after they've torn through their 20+ song set without so much as a breather.
That said, getting to Twenty One Pilots was something of a chore. The opener, Jon Bellion, was pretty lackluster and just had a 20 minute set, and the initial opener, Judah and the Lion, went on right at doors so we didn't even get a chance to see them. Bellion was pretty lackluster, and after his quick set there was almost an hour's worth of a wait to get to Twenty One Pilots. The crowd was clearly getting antsy by the long wait, but boy where they in for a treat.
You know, I've really been lucky so far this year with my live shows, as both were two of the best shows I've seen for different reasons. St. Paul and the Broken Bones was great because there were a lot of casual fans at that show that were converted to the magic of the band, but Twenty One Pilots don't have many casual fans. Everyone knew every word of every song, and the girls were screaming at the top of their lungs throughout the energy-packed set. Tyler Joseph jumped around all corners of the stage during every song, and Josh Dun plays drums with as much energy as anyone I've ever seen. It's hard not to think of him as one of the best drummers in the music industry today. The band made use of every inch of their stage, filling it with lights, cannons, and video boards. At one point the duo played a few songs from an auxiliary stage at the back of a pit, and the floor light up on this stage. Because of course it did.
Other antics from the band included Josh Dun crowd surfing (a bit, at least) in the pit with his drum set, and the duo closed with "Trees," in the pit. Overall, I think what I found most impressive about the duo was their civility. There's no doubt they are one of the hottest bands on the planet right now, dropping the youngest generation's equivalent an album like The Black Parade in 2015 with Blurryface, but they still came across as authentic, down-to-earth guys. They took plenty of opportunities to thank the opening bands, (despite their short sets) and even let Judah and the Lion frontman Judah Akers a chance to stage dive in one of those giant inflatable bubbles during "Stressed Out." Ultimately, while I went in skeptical of the band's live show because....c'mon. Why are there only two guys on stage? I came out of that show with my questions answered and my skepticism all but gone. Twenty One Pilots are on top of the musical world right now, and their live show is a big reason for that.
By: Derek Jung
So far this summer, the sound at Cincinnati's Fountain Square has been lackluster at best, and so distracting that the artist temporarily leaves the stage at worst. With all of the gadgets Robert DeLong brings with him on tour, I didn't have high hopes for what it would sound like, especially considering the last time I saw him was at Madison Theater, which has a fantastic sound system. Despite a few hiccups and a depressing lack of bass or low range, the sound actually wasn't too bad.
DeLong is ramping down his touring schedule, having been going hard since his most recent album In The Cards was released last September. Overall, the show hasn't changed much in the last 9 months, and I found myself having déjà vu during many of the "wow" portions of the set, including the drum solo end to set closer "Global Concepts". The show was much less of a dance party compared to the Madison Theater show, probably because the lack of bass created a pretty dull atmosphere. Only a small portion of the crowd was dancing, and DeLong, by no fault of his own, could never muster the extra energy to take the crowd over the edge.
The other element that was greatly lacking from this show was DeLong's visuals. Typically, a screen is right behind him projecting awesome video effects during his performance, but at Fountain Square, the visuals were projected on a screen on the building behind the stage. So you had to look at either the stage or the screen; it was impossible to look at both at the same time, so I chose not to look at the effects at all.
DeLong is definitely worth seeing. Being the only person on stage and playing all of his gizmos and gadgets is fun to watch. Hopefully next time he's in Cincinnati we'll hear some new material and a fresher performance.
By: Derek Jung
After hearing the utterly disappointing new album, Junk, I was less excited to see M83 live, especially after paying $40+ dollars for tickets only to find out I'd be seeing them in July at Lollapalooza. Nonetheless, I was at Bogart's Tuesday night for the near capacity show. Let's just say that I am so glad I went. Anthony Gonzalez, having over five albums under his belt, finally broke out with one of my favorite albums of 2011, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. That album was still a heavy staple of his live show, and it hasn't dulled a bit in the five years since its release.
I've never watched any live M83 clips on the internet besides when he appeared on late night tv shows, so I didn't know if he would have a full backing band. Opener Bob Moses didn't encourage me. The duo, one pressing play on the same repetitive beats for 45 minutes and the other singing over layers of effects and reverb and hardly playing a guitar, were so incredibly forgettable. Thankfully, M83 arrived with four backing band members. The energy of the band is phenomenal. Gonzalez's presence was authoritatively professional, commanding attention as the front man but still leaving plenty of room for the other members to shine. Guitarist/bassist Jordan Lawlor thrashed about the stage during the frequent jams, directing wave after wave of sound forward into a crowd that soaked up every beat. The light show was fantastic and perfectly complimented each song. Anthony's vocals echoed throughout the hall, soaked in the precise amount of effects to match the sound of the album, and Keyboardist Kaela Sinclair filled the roles of Mai Lan on "Go!" and Susanne Sundfør for "Oblivion", the latter of which I highly recommend experiencing live. In fact, I think I enjoyed the songs that she sang lead more than those that Anthony sang, but honestly they were both great.
Besides a few cheers of "Cincinnati!", Anthony didn't banter with the audience much, but instead packed as many songs as he could into the 75 minute set. I'm not complaining.
Bogart's has a few videos up on their Facebook page. One for Reunion and another for Midnight City.
I will definitely be checking them out again at Lollapalooza this July.
Do It, Try It
We Own The Sky
Bibi the Dog
Echoes of Mine
Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun
By: Derek Jung
Let's get one thing straight here before I even begin this review. Going into the show, I had very little experience with DeLong's music. I had heard his singles, specifically "Long Way Down" and "Global Concepts", but beyond that, I had no idea what to expect; I had no idea if it would be just him, if he'd have a band, or if he'd just be a DJ. In the end, I think I got exactly what I was hoping it'd be.
Robert DeLong is a multi-instrumentalist, but his instruments can be a little unorthodox. During the course of his set he played guitar, drums, keys, and synths. He also used a joystick, a Wii remote, and a steering wheel (among others) plugged into a giant MIDI interface to create his unique sound all the while singing and dancing around the stage. I particularly enjoyed the way he waved his Wii remote all over to distort his vocals. DeLong is definitely a master of his own equipment. He deftly moved from one knob to the next, hitting different drum pads, and using two microphones to sing in, one normal and another with a faded echo effect.
This was a super heavy bass set, exactly what you'd expect from a club atmosphere where everyone's on the dance floor, but my eyes were constantly on DeLong: watching what he was doing, which equipment he was fiddling with, and memorizing background visuals reacting to every twist and turn. Speaking of the visuals, they were something special. Starting from an opening sequence of Seal singing "Kiss From a Rose" live with things like marijuana leaves superimposed in his hands, to Mario and other video game references, there was something new for each song, and usually it was usually triggered by DeLong's playing. On "Long Way Down", the words "ON", "THE", "LONG WAY", and "DOWN" were projected on the screen along with the female vocal part when Delong pressed certain buttons on a board. Some of the coolest parts of his set were started by some element of drumming, and it makes sense because of DeLong's history as a drummer. He had a full drum set (right side of the picture), and a partial set (left side) that he used from time to time, including for a pretty great drum solo on the full set at the end of his set. I really enjoyed how fresh he kept the set, never falling into a rut and always keeping things up tempo and engaging.
DeLong brought out opener Coleman Hell for a song, and the three manned the partial drum set. Coleman Hell had a decent opening set. He doesn't have a lot of material now, and I was disappointed that he didn't have a live banjo for his hit single, but all in all he was a likable, passable opener. As for DeLong, I'd definitely see him again, not because I'm the biggest fan of his music, but because he put on an enjoyable show.
Check out a live version of "Long Way Down" for earlier this year.
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: