Editorâ€™s note: The photos included in this story are from a previous Twenty One Pilots performance at the South Side Ballroom.
FORT WORTH — It was the first big event at Fort Worthâ€™s newest major venue, Dickies Arena. The large building, located in the Will Rogers Memorial Center, smelled like fresh paint and sparkled with the kind of formality only untarnished spaces exude. If there were one act that could fill up its 14,000 seats and help christen it, it was Twenty One Pilots.
Their two-hour set on Friday night was riddled with fiery explosions, yellow confetti cannons and even a flaming car. While drummer Josh Dun stayed glued to his drum set amid the antics, lead singer Tyler Joseph acted as a conductor and led the crowd through the quick-footed lines of the bandâ€™s more angsty songs â€œJumpsuitâ€ and â€œHeavydirtysoul.â€ At times, they donned black ski masks, as they often do, to add to their menacing stage presence. At other times, they wore bucket hats for a bit of comic relief.
Beneath the veneer of car parts, flames and masks, they were two guys talking about their battles with depression and anxiety, as well as their struggles to find a support system. Joseph sang the vulnerable and encouraging lyrics of their newest single, â€œThe Hype,â€ with a steady confidence: â€œThey might be talking behind your head â€¦ It might take some friends and a warmer shirt / But you donâ€™t get thick skin without getting burnt / Nice to know my kind will be on my side.â€
He stood stoically calm during a rendition of â€œHolding on to You.â€ The song took things down a notch, even as a chorus of voices from the crowd amplified its lyrics. Many of the fans had camped, some for days, outside the arena to get one of the coveted spots at the show. Some hoped to be among the lucky few who held up Dunâ€™s drum kit or Joseph himself during one of his signature crowd surfing performances.
Although neither musician interacted with the audience much, the fans didnâ€™t seem to mind. In a surprising turn of events, the trumpeter from MisterWives, Dr. Blum, swept in with a beaming instrumental rendition of â€œOver the Rainbow.â€ The rest of the MisterWives members, who had opened the show, stepped out to continue â€œHolding on to Youâ€ alongside Twenty One Pilots. The harmonized performance felt both familial and welcoming â€” a far cry from the destructively sinister course of events that played out prior.
Even if it was a bit over-the-top, the smoking display of riotous animosity brought some street cred to the sterile new space and helped break it in with gritty vigor. If this strong start is any kind of omen, Dickies Arena might just begin drawing a few of Dallasâ€™ grungier folks over to the west side of the metroplex.