GULF SHORES, Alabama -- Twenty-One Pilots singer Tyler Joseph promised to give the crowd who showed up early for the first day of the Hangout Festival on Friday (May 17) his all and he wasn't kidding. The Ohio rap-rock-tronica duo brought the full arsenal during their hour-long lunchtime set, running the gamut from screamo and hip-hop to piano pop, daring back flips and death-defying scaffolding scaling.
"We're going to give you everything we have today and we're just gonna pour it out for you," promised Joseph, who like drummer Josh Dun, took the stage wearing a skeleton hoodie that zipped up over his face. When he wasn't sprinting across the Letting Go Stage, Joseph was crooning at his beat-up piano (or bashing its keys with his chair) and leaping off the drum riser as Dun stood up to spin his cymbals around in circles.
With a sound that swings from Jason Mraz-like hang loose shuffles played on ukulele to a mid-set mash up of covers that included R. Kelly's "Ignition," DJ Khaled's "All I Do is Win," Nelly's "Rid Wit Me" and bits of Third Eye Blind sung Vaudeville-style accompanied by Joseph's uke strumming, the band's set was perfect for a festival that takes place on a white sandy beach.
As the ode to Joseph's mother, "House of Gold," came crashing to close, Dun did a perfect backflip off the piano, an acrobatic feat matched a short time later by the Joseph, who scaled the stage rigging to sing a song from high above the audience. The singer/rapper picked up a mini keytar to pick out the 80s synth grooves of "Holding on to You, which he accented with his own leap from atop the beat-up upright.
Both men donned ski masks for "Car Radio," getting the audience involved in some "whoo hoo!" chanting, before they climbed out onto the upstretched hands of the audience and bashed drums during the dark disco groover "Trees."
The set ended with the bouncy party anthem "Guns For Hands," which got the crowd jumping up and down and throwing their hands up as the tune devolved into a gloriously noisy synth pop mess.
Mission accomplished. Catch the highlights on demand at the Hangout hub.