Each and every artist who took to the Venue stage on Monday night brought their own genre-bending style of music and live performance. Hipster femme rapper, Sirah, and glowing-cheeked electro-looper, Robert DeLong, warmed up the stage (and the crowd) for the sensational musical duo that is Twenty One Pilots. Both openers succeeded in getting the crowd engaged and pumped for a night of high energy and hard-hitting live music.
When Sirah hit the stage at 8 p.m. sharp, Venue was speckled with a meager number of drinkers, dancers, and concert dwellers, but Sirah managed to round everyone up and lasso a crowd. She roped us in with steady rhythms and eloquent rhymes. Delivering a fun and intimate performance, she even hopped down from the stage to dance with the audience while still singing and spitting out rhymes. Her DJ and drummer were killing it from the stage, providing stylish and synchronized backup. Unfortunately, Sirah’s microphone level was much too low and stayed down for the duration of her set; most of her lyrics were lost amidst beats and bass.
Robert DeLong hijacked the stage with his intriguing one-man-band set up and extensive looping equipment, most of which was branded with his signature glowing ‘X’. Watching DeLong at work in his own live-looping station was like watching a human machine in some kind of futuristic music factory. How he can do so many things at once and in quick succession is beyond me. A true master of multi-tasking, DeLong is a loop artist who sees and hears no limits. He merges electronic music with live percussion, drums, and his own versatile vocals. He uses instruments, microphones, mixers, and even videogame controllers to bring his own unique blend of dance music to life. It’s the kind of rich, layered sound that makes your feet twitch and body itch to move, but you just can’t look away because DeLong’s live performance is so completely captivating and mind-boggling.
When Twenty One Pilots started their set, Venue’s cozy stage could barely contain their explosive music and energy. The two masked boys blasted off, taking us to a planet where music is life, and aliens play the drums, correspond in rhythm and rhyme, and dance across the moon. Literally, the lead singer could moonwalk like nobody’s business, and their nylon ski masks took on fifty shades of green under the florescent stage lights. Like DeLong’s performance, Twenty One Pilots’ live set, too, was out of this world.
The audience anticipation built with each song, until the boys finally stripped off their disguise for song number four, but only for a couple songs more, then they changed into another matching set, this time hooded zipper masks attached to skeleton shirts.
Superhuman drummer Josh Dun twirled his drumsticks like batons between smashing out beats at lightning speed. Singer, rapper, and pianist Tyler Joseph blew us away with his charged stage presence and vocal range. He shot across the stage, and up onto the backside of the piano, down and up, and all around; twisting words over his tongue and flicking notes from his fingertips, on the keyboard, on the piano, in the air. If only someone would have turned up his damn mic! The drum smothered his words, and so many good lyrics were lost in transmission. The only time you could really hear what Tyler Joseph was singing was when he was accompanying himself on the piano or the ukulele and Josh Dun took a break from his drumming to backflip off the piano.
They made the wise choice of saving all of their most popular songs until the very end, pumping out, “Trees”, “Holding onto You”, “Guns for Hands”, “Car Radio” and “Ode to Sleep” all near the end of their set. For these songs, it didn’t matter that you couldn’t hear every word because there were enough Twenty One Pilots fans on the dance floor singing along.