Twenty One Pilots: A Sonic Evolution

Christian Zucconi had laryngitis on November 8, 2012. He and his band, GROUPLOVE, were scheduled for a concert at the Riviera in Chicago, but instead, the band had to come on stage to announce that the show would not, in fact, go on.

After a scramble to find an opener for its rescheduled shows, the band announced that Twenty One Pilots would join in support instead of the originally planned PAPA. 

The night the world was supposed to end, Twenty One Pilots introduced itself to a semi-anxious crowd where not many people had heard of the duo before. Vessel was two weeks away from being released, but Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun pulled out the tricks they used before "Holding Onto You" exploded on the radio.

The band's staple then, aside from songs like "House of Gold" and "Trees," was a remixed version of "Shout" and "Stereo Love" combined with the duo's trademark manic energy and omnipresence on the stage. Now, Twenty One Pilots is accepting Grammy Awards wearing tuxedo jackets and underwear.

Since the band's self-titled album in 2009, its sound, exposure and popularity have totally transformed. Back then, it was a four piece (although Joseph and Dun have been the only two members since 2011) that toured around Ohio. Now, the band is mid-way through a year-long, worldwide tour.

Twenty One Pilots is still defined by Joseph's unique and distinct voice as well as aggressive, spoken-word segments, and a combination of piano and electronica. "Holding Onto You" was the song that propelled the group into popularity, making Blurryface the first album released to widespread expectations and commercial attention. 

While Twenty One Pilots will always be a band that bends and manipulates genres, a melting pot for everything from reggae to hip hop to electropop to punk and more, Blurryface has darker lows and more exuberant highs than both Vessel and the youthful Twenty One Pilots. 

Since Twenty One Pilots, the duo has established a higher synth presence in its tracks, but has oxymoronically fallen into step more closely with a non-conforming style. "Message Man" is essentially the brother to "Guns for Hands," "Tear in My Heart" partnering with "The Run And Go." As of yet, the group's music is almost preserved. 

Considering the cult-like, communally protective nature of the alternative music scene, the next move Twenty One Pilots decides to make will be monumental. Joseph and Dun stayed loyal to their unique style without letting their popularity (which is now at an all-time high) taint their releases. But the key to being an alternative, indie artist is the idea of being almost undiscovered and against the mainstream - avoiding, at all costs, becoming a sellout.

Looking forward, here's hoping the band stays with the tried and true idiosyncracies that launched the duo to its success. Before jumping to conclusions, we can also look back and enjoy the songs that prove Twenty One Pilots's time-capsuled style. 


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