I remember following a mildly popular two-man group from Ohio’s journey this summer, as they released hints on their upcoming album. I traversed back in time, finding my favorite album to be their self-titled, and thoroughly enjoyed their music. But never did I expect for them to stop by our quaint country on their world tour, and never in my life did I feel an immense pressure and need to see them. What resulted was one of the most enjoyable days of my life – the eighteenth of July.
I am not a long-time fan of Twenty One Pilots. I was not there for the release of Vessel, so not at all for Regional at Best. I began listening to their music in the summer as they were branded as a new joiner to the association of ’emo’ bands. You know, Fall Out Boy and the like. Their sound is very distinct though, and many find trouble categorizing and defining them – which is a very positive thing. They’re not pop punk, they lean more on the electronic side. With that being said, my opinions are simply my own and do not fully reflect the band.
Admittedly, Twenty One Pilots is a band that I listen to, but have no strong emotional connection to. Their music does wonders for me, but the band itself? Tyler and Josh are wonderful beings and I highly respect them, nonetheless. I was ecstatic when they were revealed to be coming here in the late summer after much hinting on Twitter. For the first few months of the school year I was looking forward to their appearance – and so were my friends. With much shame I have to admit that there were various screams of Twenty One Pilots in the school halls, and I apologize to anyone who was burdened to hear them. I would also like to apologize in advance for the quality of these photos, whoops. Now enough with my rambling, let me talk about my experience and the concert itself!
The concert was set to start at 5PM.
I arrived there before the mall even opened.
The tickets to the concert weren’t attained through traditional means. You could get tickets by being a cardholder of some fancy VIP Ayala Malls cards, or swapping in receipts that totaled a certain amount (bought from any store in the mall but only on the day itself). Obviously I am not a cardholder, and sadly neither is anyone in my family. If I recall correctly, for about 1,000 Php of purchases, you get two standing tickets. That’s not bad, especially for Twenty One Pilots! It worked on a first come first serve basis, so I obviously went there as early as possible. With all earnest, the deal was pretty good – as you get to buy stuff and attend a concert. The only problem was it wasn’t that much of a ‘deal’ since if you wanted guaranteed tickets like me, you end up buying about a thousand pesos worth of food since small restaurants, coffee shops and the like are the only stores open before the mall’s opening.
My initial plan was to rush in to the first store that opened and to buy as much as I could, but thinking about it, everyone else was going to do that too. With a friend in hand and my grandmother as a wonderful guardian, we were able to get in before opening, thank you guard. It wasn’t only us, there were a handful of people around the area we decided to stay in first (Coffee Bean). We realized that we could spend the 1,000Php there, so we bought… almost a whole cheesecake in order to hit the needed amount. The receipt had to be presented to the concierge in order to be switched to the tickets, and we were second in line next to a mother who constantly talked about how badly her daughter wanted to watch the concert. She seemed mildly annoyed and it was pretty amusing, haha. The tickets couldn’t be swapped in until the mall opened, so we patiently waited in line. When the clock struck 9, there was a hoard of screaming adolescents that emerged from the nearest entrance, somehow they all had receipts. I’m not sure how, but I knew that if I hadn’t been able to get in early, I would not be able to make it in time.
So with the tickets, I met up with another group of friends. One of them managed to have a sponsor, and had tickets to another section of the standing area, at the front and right portion of the stage, whereas the ticket from my receipt was barricaded behind the two left and right front sections. I was lucky to be handed one of these tickets from him, so I basically received an upgrade. I was thrilled! For the next few hours, we just roamed around the mall and enjoyed ourselves. We had lunch at Fully Booked’s Press Cafe, visited DataBlitz and Fudge Rock, and just went around the mall and took time distinguishing from regular shoppers confused at the vast array of teenage girls in the activity center and fellow concertgoers. Another thing that came to my attention was that in contrast to Trinoma, Town had fast wifi available almost everywhere, and I kept in touch with fellow Filipinos who were attending the concert and I had the opportunity to meet some of them. I preferred Trinoma’s setlist more but the crowds and lack of wifi made me appreciate Town a bit more, haha. Though I should note, they played ten songs there in contrast to the twelve (listed below), but… the Judge.
An hour and a half before the concert was set to start, we returned to the activity center – the concert’s venue. Take note that it was indoors in the heart and center of a very crowded mall. With a look at the general section, the line continued around the whole concert area! I remember the start of the line forming right at the mall’s opening as well, as people headed straight there after receiving and redeeming their tickets. My friends and I waited at the sponsor area’s line, which was much shorter and more forgiving than the general section’s.
MERCHANDISE: There was official merchandise being sold at the show. To my disappointment, there were no CDs or vinyls. I was looking forward to attaining a physical copy of Blurryface, or perhaps even their older albums because the distributor had announced that there would be no stock of Blurryface in Astroplus or in other music stores in the Philippines. Instead, there were two shirts, obviously of different designs – on sale for a whopping 1300 Php each. That is quite a hefty price but I got one of the shirts because hey, official merchandise and it was to support the band. Here’s a bad picture of me trying one of them on.
PEOPLE: I can’t speak for the general section but it was… let’s just say that I’m glad that I got to upgrade my ticket. The sponsor area wasn’t as troublesome – a little less than half of the area was basically empty space! However, it was still crowded as everyone was pushing to the front. Luckily my friends and I were one of the first ones to enter the area once they started letting people in, so we were able to position ourselves right at the barricade with a bit of rude pushing and shoving, oops. Something that bothered me before the concert started was this group of girls behind us, talking about how they had extra tickets and how they were going to keep it for memories. Cool, I understand. Next were complaints about the band and why the venue was terrible, and questions such as “who’s the one that plays the piano?” and “this band isn’t even that good”. I know I have no right to judge them but that irked me, and I felt like some tickets could’ve went to others who were more deserving.
JENNA JOSEPH: I… got a view of Jenna. She also waved at me. That’s pretty damn noteworthy. She looked pretty apathetic throughout the whole concert, which was pretty cute, haha.
SETLIST: Oh boy, I want to say that I enjoyed the concert. I had high hopes for it because in other parts of their tour in Southeast Asia, they had sets that were more than an hour long, and played around eighteen songs each. We got about twelve songs.
- Stressed Out
- Holding on to You
- House of Gold (intro)
- We Don’t Believe What’s on TV
- Lane Boy
- No Woman, No Cry (cover)
- The Run and Go
- Tear in my Heart
- Car Radio
- Guns for Hands (Trees outro)
(As taken from setlist.fm)
I really had high hopes for this concert, but the venue alone should’ve told me to not keep my hopes too high. Yes, I did look up the previous setlists from the recent venues they had performed in, they were all miles ahead of this one. Perhaps this was due to the fact that they were performing in a mall and a full setlist could have disturbed the shopping experience for all the clueless people, but really, Twenty One Pilots? Performing a mall show? But let’s focus on what good they did.
Heavydirtysoul was a wonderful opener, it was expected as it was the Blurryface tour. It got me pumped up despite the fact that I cannot rap it at all, and other favorites such as Tear in my Heart and Car Radio, and pleasingly, The Run and Go were played and made me quite happy, most especially The Run and Go! Tyler was very interactive with the crowd, especially during We Don’t Believe What’s on TV, the atmosphere was great. You lose yourself and get immersed in the concert and in Tyler and Josh and at times you forget that you’re actually in the activity center of a busy mall. The lighting was astounding, I didn’t expect it to be that good, but the smoke and spotlights hit everything right, most notably in the very beginning of the concert. The dark visuals and tones from Heavydirtysoul made it much more thrilling and impactful. The lines were also more organized than I expected them to be. Also, as their signature, Josh got onto a platform and played his drums, which I sadly wasn’t able to see due to the crowd and my lackluster height. (Waaa.) Tyler of course, did climb onto the pillar which was stationed in the crowd area, and that was amazing. It made me think about the demands that he probably made for the mall before agreeing to perform here, and the short battle that probably erupted before Ayala resentfully agreed, heh.
Other than that, there was not much I could say. It was pretty good for a mall concert, though whoever represented Twenty One Pilots in finding a location to perform at in the Philippines should have considered a bigger fanbase. The venue wasn’t appropriate for a band of such revere, but for what it was – it was handled well. The lines were organized (although the fans were in quite a bit of emotional disarray), the security did their job (aside from a stunt that I mention in the next paragraph), the concert stage was set up appropriately.
What really disappointed me was the abrupt ending. We had Guns for Hands, a powerful, emotional song. Tyler’s vocals were as touching as ever, but afterwards? That was it. We had no encore, just a bow, and what made me pretty sad was the fact that they didn’t play Trees. As people were leaving, I kind of just stood there and waited. “It can’t be over,” I tried to tell myself. The instruments were carried out one by one, and I had accepted that it was it. I did see a group of girls climb over the barriers to take a water bottle and bandana that they used during the concert before promptly being chased by security. That was amusing, but also rude. I heard that one made it out unscathed, and a part of my heart wishes to congratulate her and is filled with envy, and the other wants to say that it left a bad impression on our country and on the fans. But hey, if I had the chance to, I think I’d do it. After all, there was no meeting Tyler or Josh, there was no chance to. They were swiftly escorted in and out by security, and that was it. It ended with a bow.
It was like an empty, gut feeling.
I told myself that it was a mall show, of course it would be that way. My heart and musical soul looks forward to the return of the duo, this time in a bigger venue, preferably MOA Arena. It’s a location and a stage they are deserving of, and this time, it would be much more proper and well-suited to the fanbase that they carry.
But in the finale, it was the end of the day, yet I was indeed – a walking denial.
(That was bad. I’m sorry. Twenty One Pilots, please come back to Manila. I know you’re doing another tour.)