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“Twenty One Pilots (sometimes stylised as twenty | one | pilots or twenty one pilots) is an American musical duo from Columbus, Ohio.” Such a premise barely encapsulates Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun – unassuming natives of the Buckeye State who have found themselves revered as forerunners of an international cult. They enjoy a rabid following; surely the envy of other fledging acts and their recent hijacking of the Billboard charts is testament to the potential harnessed by a core group of fans. Yet it still feels pretty surreal to truly appreciate what these two men have managed to accomplish and what they represent.
As a first-hand witness to their winning debut performance in Singapore, it's safe to say that TØP is genuinely louder than life.
No stranger to tiny venues, Twenty One Pilots somehow retains the same type of intimacy you would expect from a club show. [Besides, the Suntec Convention Centre Halls are basically idealised, starkly frigid rooms, yes?] This is in part due to the air of camaraderie palpable amongst concert-goers (tainted only by thuggish attempts to surge forward, jfc people) as a sea of red beanies a la the Tear In My Heart video is common sight. Heck, the lucky kid who got hoisted up onto stage specifically to execute an over-eager, in-group handshake was wearing one in almost uniform conformity. Seriously, I haven't seen a passion for crimson hats burgeoning like this since Taylor York's pre-self-titled aesthetic.
Weathering a throat infection that forced the band to cancel a previous Taiwanese date, Joseph did not appear to falter even once throughout the night. At one point, the MC pretty much gave the finger to tonsillitis, exuberantly declaring “I’m on fire!” while twirling around with a stalk of sunflower in between his toothy grin, all Cheshire Cat-like. But perhaps “We’re all mad here,” is exactly the sort of rhetoric 21P intends to espouse. Health-related demons quashed, it is common knowledge that Joseph treats their live component as a decisive battle against his insecurities (in Dun’s case, it’s more therapeutic in nature) and though considerably muted down, a hint of strictly utilitarian theatrics was still discernible. It’s a rather ludicrous image to conjure up – a grown adult in a skeleton mask playing the tambourine – but it sticks and Joseph wore it with utmost ingenuity. His pleas to save his HeavyDirtySoul become increasingly agitated while he clings to an encircling and visibly illuminated microphone (possibly his salvation), his frame contorting in spasms with each of Dun’s smashes. There’s a reason why “catharsis” is a favourite word of Joseph’s and his constant state of jumpiness is merely a physical manifestation of that coveted release.
But to mistake Joseph’s overt display of his vulnerabilities solely for a sign of weakness is to miss the point. “What’s my name, what’s my name?” he taunts the audience, teetering on malicious glee. His name’s Blurryface and he cares what you think. Rather than succumbing to the weight of paranoia, he revels in the spotlight and by acknowledging his fears, siphons the strength to lead a rousing, fist-toting rendition of Guns For Hands. The innate sense of sentimentality that Joseph embodies doesn’t quite dissipate however, with the most tender of moments weaved within livelier anthems.
“There’re two parts to this. I want you to sing the other part.” Behind a piano, the frontman’s tones ring forlorn as the crowd chants, “Help me.” When isolated from the overall bounce of Ride, such seeming desolation may be anomalous but that is the unavoidable reality of juxtapositions as asserted by TØP. One minute you could be hollering along to the ukulele-driven Lane Boy and the next, literally raising the roof next to a bemused parent who’s wondering whether that transition into DJ Khaled’s All I Do Is Win really happened.
Joseph doesn't simply defeat Blurryface - the personification of all his insecurities - per se. Victory at face value is presumably as ephemeral as the temporary rush attained when executing their invigorating set without so much as a slight hiccup. The true triumph then lies in recognising this underlying entity of doubt and subsequently ensuring that we're not in its destructive grasp, devoting our resources to more productive preoccupations. In Joseph's case, it's being a symbol of hope for the "the few, the proud and the emotional." He is not incorruptible (unlike Batman); incessantly hounded by a misplaced sentiments of inadequacy and an acute awareness of his band’s two-piece status. "Did we do okay for you this evening? Did we do okay?" Joseph does little to mask his fretting, holding fans in the highest esteem.
Remarking drolly, he affectionately refers to a wide-eyed Dun as “the rest of the band,” seizing every opportunity to draw attention to his BFF with the precision and fervour of David Letterman’s once ubiquitous, “Are those your drums?” Indeed, the pair’s friendship takes centre stage at times – ranging from aerobatic leaps off the piano to ukuleles playfully converted to mimic \trumpets and BB guns, betraying an ingrained eternal youth that is matched only by adult Big Wheels. Dun uses his sticks as a form of peephole for crying out loud.
Still, it's consoling to know that despite what personal turmoils they've faced and the statistical improbability of success, Twenty One Pilots have propelled themselves to the top on their own terms. Their fundamental appeal lies in the desire to connect with others – their disclosure of human fallability profoundly frank yet refreshing without being too jaded.
So who’s Twenty One Pilots anyway? (If not “one of the biggest bands in the world no one has heard of?”)
“We’re Twenty One Pilots and so are you.”
2. Stressed Out
3. Guns For Hands
5. House Of Gold
6. Bugatti (Ace Hood cover)
7. All I Do Is Win (DJ Khaled cover)
8. We Don't Believe What's On TV
9. The Judge
10. Lane Boy
11. Fairly Local
12. Holding Onto You
13. Fall Away
14. No Woman, No Cry (Bob Marley cover)
16. The Run And Go
17. Tear In My Heart
18. Car Radio
Photo credit: Aloysius Lim | Live Nation Lushington SG
Amidst the violet skies that caused a tranquil atmosphere, around 200 fans, mostly consisting of a younger age group, gathered at MyVillage Rooftop for Serangoon Garden’s first ever rooftop concert. Our very own local talents, ShiGGa Shay and Gentle Bones, joined the sweet Vine couple Us The Duo for an intimate gig on the 4th of July. Yes, Michael and Carissa Alvarado celebrated America’s Independence Day on our shores!
At 6:30pm, fans eagerly made their way up to the terrace as they carried Us The Duo's latest album in hand, anticipating the album signing after the show. About an hour later, opening act, ShiGGa Shay got the crowd on their feet with his first song ShiGGa Morning. The first song got everyone swaying but I must say that the whole mood was still lacking, which was completely understandable as most of the fans were saving their energy for the next sets.
ShiGGa Shay was later joined onstage by none other than Joel Tan (Gentle Bones) for an upbeat performance of their song, Afraid To Love. Gentle Bones’ appearance really did get a group of fangirls screaming, this occurred as my heartbeat simultaneously followed the beat of the loud bass.
After a couple of minutes of semi-rave dancing and ShiGGa Shay making jokes about his “small eyes” which got the place resounding with laughter, he ended his set with Lion City Kia and was joined by his number one fan onstage. "Mini ShiGGa Shay" was in full fanboy mode with his rapper outfit.
Gentle Bones serenaded everyone with his acoustic set accompanied by the talented Violinist, Josh Wei, in songs like Elusive, Settle Down and Until We Die. Gentle Bones must have a loyal group of fans as they sang along to EVERY song. Also, to my surprise, it turns out that Josh also has mad beatboxing skills, which he later showed off in Save Me. Despite all this, the second act left us all hanging which was obvious as a group of fans requested for an encore.
A few giveaways and audience interactions later, the headlining act, Us The Duo, took the stage. Welcomed with enthusiastic cheers and a dim stage lighting, the deeply in love couple resonated such pure bliss.
Us The Duo got everyone hyped with Til The Morning Comes and Michael’s occasional glances at Carissa. Love truly was in the air as they briefly mentioned how they’re still madly in love despite fame.
The couple went acapella as they performed a newly written song, and did a heart-warming rendition of Meghan Trainor and John Legend’s Like I’m Gonna Lose You. Nothing could go wrong that night; their soulful harmonies filled the area with a peaceful ambience and I momentarily forgot all my troubles.
It was also quite exciting to hear the live version of their cover of the Top Hits of 2014 that now has 12.5 million views on YouTube!
The ethereal Saturday evening ended with Us The Duo’s wedding vow, No Matter Where You Are that left a vibrant vibe to the memorable night; definitely the highlight of the show. Top it off with fangirls (and boys!) yelling, “Adopt us!” at the couple.
Photo Credit: Teejay Vergara for Spin or Bin Music, MyVillage.sg
It was only two years ago when Demi Lovato was in Malaysia to perform at the Twin Towers concert. This time around, Demi brought her A-game the minute she walked onto the KL Live stage to a crowd of screaming die-hard lovatics who turned out in full force to support their favourite idol.
Armed with a powerhouse voice and a firecracker attitude, Demi wasted no time in kicking the show off with Really Don’t Care. Barely pausing for a breath, she delved into several up-tempo cuts including Remember December and fan favourite, Heart Attack. It was a straight up pop-rock concert, and judging by the crowd’s reaction, the scene was electrifying.
The drawback was this – I couldn’t hear a word she was singing as a result of ear-bleeding screams and the overwhelming music blast. Her voice was drowned so far down that it was impossible to hear the lyrics.
It was only during her quieter moments her soulful vocals cut through more clearly and filled the venue with her stripped down performances. Slower ballads such as My Love Is Like a Star and Skyscraper really showed off her amazing vocal embellishments. It was both intimate and impressive.
Demi also took the time to open up about her personal struggles and insecurities by encouraging the crowd that they can get through every hardship no matter what it is. “There are so many in the audience tonight that don’t know their worth and I’m here to tell you that each and everyone of you are so beautiful. Not only do you deserve a happy and incredible life, you deserve so much more. And I wish everyone can see that in themselves,” she said.
“Just know that when I’m not there in person with you, my music is always available. I may not be physically with you, but I will be there for you through my music,”she continued before belting out the self-esteem song, Warrior. During the performance, fans were treated with a visual clip documenting her trip to Africa.
The former Disney princess also included Frozen’s beloved juggernaut, Let It Go. Yes, the song that has become the ear-worm bane to many of us drew the loudest screams from ecstatic teen girls. No, you did not see this particular fan quietly singing along together with the rest of the crowd.
Closing the show with crowd-pleaser Give Your Heart A Break, followed by the club-banger hit, Neon Lights as the encore, everyone was dancing to the beat and celebrating in unison as Demi ended the night on a high note at 8.30pm. Overall, Demi’s setlist showed a well-balanced of rock, pop, acoustic and dance tracks that paid homage to her past and celebrated the future.
Photo credit: Instagram (fadliayub, iamwilliamfoong, malaysianlovatic)
“We want you to go crazy, and we want you to act like you’re 15 years old.”
That was the sole order of the night, and as supermassive Backstreet junkies who would do anything the boys ask of us, we gladly complied. The decibel of the audience’s shrieks and squeals quite nearly reached that of the howl of prepubescent Beliebers, except this time, the noise-makers are 20, 30, even 40somethings, dancing in synchrony down memory lane with the Backstreet Boys (BSB). The feverish pandemonium sustained through the three opening numbers, The Call, Don’t Want You Back, and Incomplete.
Decked out in slick blue suits, the quintet took after perfect cavaliers who could tell between cashmere and cotton, and break out in flawless choreography. These lads have clearly grown up. The Floridian group – which numbers Nick Carter (the darling), A. J. McLean (the resident badass), Howie Dorough (the salsa champ), Kevin Richardson (the eyebrow master), and Brian Littrell (the gagster) – serenaded to a sold-out auditorium at The Star Performing Arts Centre.
In A World Like This (a two-year tour) is their 10th and biggest to date, marking their reunion since Kevin’s return, their new album, and their 20th anniversary. It’s now 2015, 22 years since the dawn of their formation in 1993, and the “best-selling boy band” still got it. Still hitting high notes, still body rocking, still exuding the same boyish vibes with their casual on-stage jibber jabber, merrymaking and tomfoolery.
“I gotta look good for the ladies tonight,” schmoozed the honey-tongued Nick with a wink in his eye, playfully tweaking his collar into place. And just like that, skivvies were relinquished. They were not going to let us forget about them, no siree!
There’s a general consensus that old hits remain the most-loved (and were what the generality bought tickets for), but their newer lesser-known items aren’t all that sub-par. Permanent Stain, Love Somebody, and their world tour’s title track, In A World Like This, made for some classic BSB jams. Of course, the chaps knew what we wanted, and promised to perform every one of their chart-busters.
A two-minute wardrobe change, distracted by video sequences, had them shedding their dapper ensemble in exchange for something a tad more comfortable (save for the tight jeans) and a tad old school. Suddenly, we’re back in the 90s. Crotch-grabs, hip-thrusts and gyrations were aplenty. On that note, we’d like to express our gratitude to Live Nation Lushington for setting this shindig up.
Brian, one of those Will Smith-calibre creatures that never seem to age, even surprised us with handstands, cartwheels, and gymnastic-approved leaps over stairs and stage structures. Whatever he’s on, we want some.
Just when we noticed the lack of an actual band on stage providing musical accompaniment and realised that we couldn’t remember when boy bands actually held instruments, we were treated to an intimate acoustic session. Cue 10,000 Promises, Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) and a mellifluous set of harmonies. Preceding it was an improvised a cappella No Diggity bit, involving two-fifth of the band, which we wish transitioned into a full-on cover.
Saving the best for last, the Backstreet Boys got all and sundry to their feet, roaring word-for-word to the much-awaited and teased Larger Than Life, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), and I Want It That Way. This concert in our humble city-state isn’t their first, having dropped by in 2006 and 1996, and with the promise of a fresh record to be subsequently promoted, it certainly won’t be their last.
1. The Call
2. Don't Want You Back
4. Permanent Stain
5. All I Have to Give
6. As Long as You Love Me
7. Show 'Em (What You're Made Of)
8. Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely
10. I'll Never Break Your Heart
11. We've Got It Goin' On
12. No Diggity
14. 10,000 Promises
16. Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
17. The One
18. Love Somebody
19. Shape of My Heart
20. In a World Like This
21. I Want It That Way
22. Everybody (Backstreet's Back)
23. Larger Than Life
Photo credit: Live Nation Lushington
Demi Lovato has come a long way from being a child actress on Barney & Friends, to the superstar that she is today, and this was immortalized in the one-night-only SOLD OUT concert that she played on 28th April at Suntec City Convention & Exhibition Centre.
It was a no frill kind of setting – no back up dancers, no pyrotechnics. Just Demi, her two back up vocalists and her 4-man band. That was it. If the objective of that stage set-up was to make all 3000 members of the audience focus on her voice, Demi did just that.
Right from the get-go, Demi already got the crowd dancing and singing along to Really Don’t Care. No Cher Lloyd? Psh, that’s fine, Demi alone was more than enough!
From then on, it was just song after song not only from her latest release, but also from previous albums too. With every high note that Demi belted, fans screamed. Who are we kidding, anything that Demi did, the fans screamed because…. It was Demi.
There were a few segments in the show that I really liked. The first being the acoustic segment when Demi stripped down the arrangement for her old songs, including Get Back and Did You Forget. Acoustic guitars and a singer with fantastic vocals? Don’t mind me while I turn into a rabid fan girl, please and thank you.
My next favourite part of the show was when Demi sang Let It Go. Bringing two little girls up on stage to sing the song with her was just the icing on the cake. The main highlight was really the audience – seeing dads with their little girls singing and dancing to Let It Go was SUPER.DUPER.ADORABLE.
Watching Demi perform live on stage was like watching multiple characters embodied in one person. Within the 75 minutes, Demi was sexy, sultry, innocent, edgy, innocent, vulnerable and adorable - you name it, she brought it.
While the songs about being happy and enjoying life, which made the audience get up, dance and sing along, it’s the songs such as Skyscraper and Nightingale that chronicled her personal struggles, which stood out the most. Showing off her vocal runs, these songs also showed how passionate she is as an artiste and as a person.
If this concert is any indication of Demi’s growth musically, I definitely can foresee that she will be back more frequently in Singapore to play even bigger and better shows.
“You guys have been such a fun audience!” Why, thank you Demi Lovato, you make Singapore blush. Watching you perform last night has been such a pleasure for all of us.
Really Don't Care
My Love Is Like a Star
Don't Forget / Catch Me
Let It Go
Give Your Heart a Break
Photo credits: AC Music Entertainment