It’s difficult to pin down the two-man band called Twenty One Pilots. They took the White Stage a little after 4 in horror show costumes to a hardcore stomp. Was this a death metal band? Well, only for a song, but it’s one of the group’s hallmarks that whatever style of music they’re playing they make a point of playing it very well. With his neck and hands smeared with greasy soot, lead singer Tyler Joseph certainly looked like an art rocker, but his smooth transitions from piano to ukulele to bass and back again betrayed a more rounded musical education. Meanwhile, drummer Josh Dun, tattooed and burly with prominent red circles painted under his eyes, provided both a solid backbeat and a visual foil.
It’s almost saying too little to mention that no two songs sounded alike: hip-hop, reggae, dub, even Elton John style piano rock. And as the opening dramaturgy showed, Joseph knows how to engineer theatricality to the show’s advantage.
Obviously, there was a contingent of people who were already fans because they knew the lyrics, but it’s also safe to say the the two men just added a few hundred more. It was one of those rare instances where you could sense a wonderful discovery being made. Come to think of it, that’s one of Fuji Rock’s most salient features.