NEWARK, NJ—Disclaimer: Anyone who knows me knows that Jon Bellion and Twenty One Pilots are tied at number one for my absolute favorite artist/band. Any fangirling from here on out is totally not my fault. The day I found out Bellion was supporting the U.S. leg of the Emotional Roadshow tour (by him accidentally slipping up in an interview before it was announced), I was instantly sold on attending when they came to Jersey.
Upon arriving to Prudential Center, my first observation was the incredibly diverse age groups in attendance—the crowd ranged from elderly couples, to kids as young as around four years old, and everything else in between. The first opener, Judah & The Lion, played as many still made their way into the venue right before Jon Bellion went on at 7:45 p.m.
Now, for another disclaimer, this was the fifth time I saw Jon Bellion perform within the past six months. By this point, I have his dance moves, ad libs, and pretty much his whole set memorized. With this knowledge, I could accurately tell you that he somehow manages to bring more and more energy to every single one of his performances. Bellion’s set started out with the infamous beep that is heard in the beginning and at the end of his album, The Human Condition. The crown instantly got pumped as the lights flashed on during his first song, “He Is The Same,” and Bellion, his band, and his best friend since college, Travis Mendes, took the stage. It wasn’t until the second song, “All Time Low,” that the concert attendees really got stoked because they realized this is the song they have been hearing all over the radio for the past few weeks. All sang along with the lyrics they were familiar with until they heard Bellion’s fun little switch up of the chorus played on his beatpad.
Bellion’s 45-minute set continued with his older song, “Run Wild,” where the long-time fans were evident by who sang along. Next up was his next single, “Guillotine,” which he played a bit differently by slowing down the intro into reggae-styled instrumentals before picking it back up when he got to the chorus, then followed by the bridge sung by Mendes—definitely a fun time. “80’s Films,” and “Overwhelming,” were played before my favorite song of the set, “Maybe IDK.” For this one, Bellion played a taiko drum in the beginning of the song and during the chorus while allowing the audience to sing the lyrics. This added a very tribal vibe to the set and has easily become the part of the set that has gotten me the most pumped.
The set ended with “New York Soul Pt. II,” where Bellion asked the crowd to sing along to the melody originally sung by Alec Benjamin. Bellion ended strong with the extremely high-energy rap at the end of the record. Before exiting the stage, however, Bellion asked the crowd to send a message to one of his best friends who is currently fighting in the hospital after a severe diving accident. He asked the audience to say, “Keep fighting, Drew!” while it was videoed from the stage.
Now for Twenty One Pilots’ set, if I continued to go into detail about every aspect of the performance that I completely loved, you would be reading this for the next hour. Therefore, I’m going to (try to) pick out my absolute favorite parts. At 9:00 p.m., and Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun took the stage with their intro to the song, “Fairly Local,” I think I might have blacked out from pure excitement. The pair continued with a few songs, old and new, and at the end of “Heavydirtysoul,” a sheet was pulled over Tyler on stage at the piano. Two seconds later, he was spotted up in the 200 section of the arena with a spotlight on him—“mindblown” was the word of the moment. A bit more into the set, songs like current crowd favorite, “Heathens,” “Screen,” and, “The Judge,” were heavily sang along to.
“Lane Boy” was a favorite performance of mine because “hazmats in gas masks” came out on the stage and danced around, much like the lyrics in this specific song. Right after, videos of their old concerts were played on the screen to demonstrate that Twenty One Pilots wasn’t always this big—they used to play to crowds as small as 10 people. I really enjoyed seeing this because it shows that the two are still humbled by the fame they have recently gained. Joseph and Dun then played on the B-Stage, which was placed right in the middle of the venue. “Ode To Sleep, “Addict With A Pen,” and their cover of “Cancer,” were the only songs played in this area.
An extremely entertaining moment happened right after this, though, when Josh Dun had a drum battle with a virtual version of himself that appeared next to him on the LED screen. I was completely mesmerized by the battle. For, “Holding Onto You,” the same traditions happened as they have for the past few years—Tyler began the song while standing on the crowd, and Josh did his infamous, “lean wit it rock wit it,” backflip from the piano.
Now THIS was my favorite part of Twenty One Pilots’ whole performance: They brought Judah & The Lion and Jon Bellion back out to perform four cover songs with them. Never did I ever thing I would see Jon Bellion and Twenty One Pilots sharing the stage together, but it happened and I’m so grateful I got to witness it (again, excuse my fangirling).
Then for the rest of the set, fun things happened like Josh drumming on top of the crowd during “Ride,” Tyler running on top of the crowd in a mouse ball during “Guns For Hands,” which made me feel like I was back at an A Day To Remember show again, Tyler telling the fans to sing “Tear In My Heart” to his wife, Jenna, because she was also in attendance, and Tyler traditionally climbing high for the end of “Car Radio.”
Twenty One Pilots ended with “Trees,” where Tyler and Josh both drummed on top of the crowd as confetti and smoke filled the room, exactly as they have been for the past three or so years. I was happy to see the same ritual has stuck.
The show was over, and I was walking out truly sad that the night only lasted a few hours—definitely not a substantial enough time for a fan like myself (I promise, I’m not always like this). Please, please do yourself a favor and get tickets to see any of the artists who performed on the Emotional Roadshow 2017 whenever they come around. There aren’t enough words to truly detail the incredible productions these talented people create. You have to just see for yourself.
Show date: January 21, 2017