“It feels so good to be back here.” Tyler Joseph confesses to the room, electrified but held, by him, “In fact, we kind of view this city as a home of ours.”
That electricity of the crowd gathered in the O2 Academy Brixton ignites with noise. And it is apparent that we are all at home finally, too.
I have always felt more at home at a Twenty One Pilots concert than I have anywhere else in the world. But, this time I had been at home the moment I settled myself down on the streets of Brixton, in line for the show with my greatest friends, ready to spend the next hours in a whirlwind of sleep-deprived delirium.
A lot happened in that queue. Probably because it was Brixton. There was a drunk guy with a knife, who was arrested by police with help from the band crew. And then I had to give an official statement to the police while Pia napped next to me on the pavement and seven people struggled to put up a tent. I cut Katya’s fringe, which was truly one of the most stressful moments of my life. Another guy got arrested right in front of us. We took a picture of us T-posing which for some unknown reason Josh Dun liked on Instagram. We swallowed about 500 ginger shots in a desperate attempt to not die from scurvy. The streets of Brixton were overflowing with yellow. We talked about deep shit. And we made a Tyler out of plastic cups.
And even though all the people I was with were my friends before the show, I felt like I had become even closer to them. My time out on the streets of London passed by so quickly because I was having so much fun. And I came away from the show feeling like I really have found a family through this band. And I realised that this is exactly what Twenty One Pilots are all about.
However, while all that emotional friendship shit is cute, the real heroes were the security at Brixton. They looked after us so well, making sure we were safe day and night, they gave us ponchos when it rained, handed out free breakfast in the morning (and a massive chocolate cake) and they treated us with so much respect and generosity, never once complaining that we were, truthfully, making their jobs a lot harder to do. Simeon, Daniel, Bucky and Speedy in particular made this the best queuing experience by far and I cannot thank them enough.
And then of course, the show.
Twenty One Pilots really do just keep out-doing themselves don’t they? I mean, there was a burning fucking car on stage. And while the majority of the set was somewhat an ode to the Emotional Roadshow tour, they included all four of the new tracks which were even better live than I imagined.
Opening with Jumpsuit was fantastic, although by the time it had faded into Levitate the entire crowd were worn out, desperately trying to keep up with the rap whilst avoiding being crushed by the fallen comrades, bested by the vigour of the crowd, that security were dragging out of the pit. It was pretty intense, and my post-show bruises were impressive, but a hell of a lot of fun. The crowd split during My Blood was beautiful, and Tyler’s happy dance when he knew how well it had worked was one of the greatest moments of the show, if not my life.
Whilst some old favourites like Migraine met the cull to form place for the new stuff, Holding Onto You remained, and when Tyler headed straight over to where I was on the barrier I was ready to hold him up once more. His face when he saw Pete in the crowd completely lit up, and him taking Katya’s yellow rose as he stood up on our hands and faced the 5000 faces before him holds all kinds of metaphorical power, as well as producing some insanely aesthetic images.
Trees, as well, remained their iconic finale, which I was glad about because I’m definitely not quite ready to say goodbye to it yet. Tyler came straight at us on barrier, before the drumming began. He grabbed my hand and hugged a few of us, and that small gesture meant so much. I had really felt a connection with him that show, maybe just because I hadn’t taken my phone out once, but it felt so incredible to close that gap between us. To seal that connection with some kind of physicality when he took my hand and we held onto each other… To know in the most basic sense that he was real, and alive, and I was too. And that everything we had experienced together was real, and tangible. That everything they stood for, everything they had done for me, and the sense of being at home with them was real, and tangible too.
After the show, exhausted and sweaty, we re-grouped and we hugged and we laughed and we cried a little. It’s one of the strangest feelings, I think, after the show; being completely drained and yet wholly renewed.
People were gathered outside stage door, as they do. And the band drove away in secret, as they also always do. And that’s okay because while we all wish we could continue to secure our connection to them with some kind of physicality, with words, with proximity, there are too many of us for them to meet and they don’t owe us that anyway.
But I got to say goodbye to so many of my friends, old and new, and know that I could stay in touch with them online, or see them at another show. And we said our goodbyes to security, who told us that Twenty One Pilots fans were the best fans they had ever known, and that we had made their job enjoyable, which is a pretty awesome legacy to leave. And when Marina and I spoke to the crew after, they told us we hadn’t even seen half of what the band had lined up for the Banditos tour.
And all of that meant that there was no bitterness in the ending. I wasn’t sad it was over because I had gained so much from it. Friends, family, another reminder to keep fighting the good fight, the knowledge that I would be returning home in February, and the possibility that Tyler knows I exist… Maybe. Probably not. But there’s hope, right?
Please let me know if you were also at the show and how you found it! And what are your thoughts on the tour? What songs do you think will leave the setlist for good? I’m nervous about saying goodbye to so many of them!