Twenty One Pilots @ Leeds Cockpit 22/2/14 ★★★☆☆


“Is anybody out there Leeds?” Frontman Tyler Joseph shouts into the microphone as the unusually varied crowd of middle aged skinheads and fourteen year old emos all scream back in unison. Always fun to play Where’s Wally, but instead with the guy that’s donning their trademark mask.

The electronic band Twenty One Pilots have flown miles from the sunny hills of Ohio to come to the grimy venue of Leeds Cockpit, and all the northerners seem pretty happy about it.

Opening with their hit ‘Fake You Out’ gained immediate crowd interaction as people hurriedly left the bar clutching their warm, overpriced beer to push themselves through the packed out crowd in order to catch a glimpse of the American duo.

Amongst all the strobe and lighting effects it was difficult to spot the shy silhouettes of Tyler as he bounced across the stage in a Newtons cradle-like fashion. Whether to represent his alter ego or simply a reflection on the bad lighting technicians, it certainly kept the audience searching and squinting through the smokey room.

The masks come off as the sinister synthesizers of ‘Ode To Sleep’ kick in. From their new album Vessels, the song portrays both their musical and lyrical talents from the off, whilst showing us that Tyler can spit mad rhymes bro.

In the midst of all the electronic synthesizers and an epileptic-fit-waiting-to-happen light display, the duo took the time to treat their loyal fans to an acoustic break of Screen, also from their latest album. ‘I’m standing in front of you, trying to be so cool’ seems a painfully personal touch to add, as if directing his insecurities to the crowd. “We’re broken people” Tyler repeatedly chants with a ferocious tongue as he towers over the stage on the podium, with Josh on the other side brutally hitting his drum kit like his life depends on it.

You can feel the force in the room as the duo put on an energetic show, as both the band and the crowd release their problems and insecurities in a Green Mile-esque John Coffee sort of way.

“There is nowhere else I’d rather be than in this weird tunnel of people.” Is definitely a crowd pleaser and only pumped up their fans to the point where it became difficult to distinguish Tyler’s American twang amongst the Yorkshire accent-filled room (Yorkshire’uns win every time). Clearly all of their late night Google lyrics searches have finally paid off.

The pair belted out House Of Gold and treated the crowd to a break of Van Morrison’s infamous Brown Eyed Girl. If the pair knows anything it’s how to team electronic music with 1960s classics; a skill in its own right.

Frontman Tyler displays his nerves as his awkward body language turns to address the crowd. “I never know what to say in between songs. My father said to me, Tyler, you’ve got to say something different than here’s another song. But he’s not here, so here’s another song.”

Being at the front of the crowd always has its advantages sure. Whether it be the smell of sweat dripping from your favourite musician or catching their discarded plectrums, drumsticks and the eye of the artist that is stood within arm’s length. However, at the end of their gig, Tyler and Josh faffed around on stage in order to locate the surfboard style platforms that the crowd willingly held up as Tyler and Josh clambered on top, regained their balance and bought out the floor toms as their lit-up drumsticks (so cool) smashed the drum skins.

“This is your show more than ours. Do what YOU want…Music can help that and that’s why we’re here.” As we are surrounded by an industry where music has become a business rather than an art, it’s easy to lose sight. However, our lovably awkward Tyler keeps his feet on the ground as he gives the crowd something only live music can achieve; a euphoric sense of release.

A combination of electronic synthesizers, percussion and acoustic music makes for any good show, but team that with unique crowd interaction and pretty awesome equipment (who isn’t a fan of light-up drumsticks?!) makes them definitely one to watch. I do not doubt that they are going to crack the British music scene by storm.

Be sure to catch them at Download festival this year!