CONCERT REVIEW: Twenty One Pilots’ The Icy Tour At Madison Square Garden
On Tuesday, August 23rd, legendary alt-rock duo twenty one pilots performed at the historic Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, New York, for a stop on their North American Icy Tour. It. Was. Incredible. (This article describes the setlist and visuals for the Icy Tour in depth. This is your spoiler warning.)
Before I delve into the excellency of the mainstage, an applause to the opener: Peter McPoland. McPoland opened the night with an energy unmatched by any performer I’ve ever seen. He performed cornerstones of his discography, including Shit Show and Romeo and Juliet, and between his songs, wherein he seemed as though he was possessed by his own creations, he talked back to the crowd with a comfortability and humility that made the entire performance refreshing and enjoyable. It was impossible not to smile and jam during his set.
The main event opened with a brand new opening-visual, featuring lead singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun as they explore an icy wasteland, and eventually encounter a blue door floating in the sky. The duo are sucked into this blue door in the video, and seamlessly exit a blue door on the floor in the real-life mainstage. The set opened the same as their Takeover Tour, which traversed across the U.S. in late 2021, with a performance of Scaled and Icy’s Billy-Joel-esque opening track Good Day transitioning into the heavy-hitting alt-rap chant No Chances. The third song to make its way to the stage was a surprise: Guns for Hands, a 2011 release off of Regional At Best that was later remastered for 2013’s Vessel. Guns for Hands has been notably absent in live performance since the mid 2010s, and has made its way back to the stage following the release of Scaled and Icy, being played at the small-club shows for the Takeover Tour. More twenty one pilots mainstay live moments ensued, such as the Holding Onto You flip and the Lane Boy intro and mosh.
On B-stage, Tyler led the crowd through a Mulberry Street phone-flashlight light-show, instructing the crowd when to hold up their flashlights. It was a wonder to see: 10,000 people all perfectly and simultaneously leading a feat of live visual effects. After Mulberry Street, Tyler, alone on the B-stage, performed a medley of one song from each album, including Addict with a Pen, Forest, Ode to Sleep, Hometown, Bandito, and Choker.
Tyler transitioned back to the mainstage and performed a familiar campfire set with the backing band and Josh. Since the release of Scaled and Icy, the band’s live performances have included acoustic covers of songs, as the boys and their post-2021 backing band sit around a campfire.
After the campfire, the band transitioned into rapid-fire twenty one pilots classics, including Jumpsuit with a transition directly into Heavydirtysoul, My Blood with a transition directly into Saturday, and featuring a Josh Dun drum-crowd-ride. (If you can’t imagine what that looks like, Google it.) A few songs later, Car Radio transitioned directly into Billboard-topper Stressed Out, which featured a fun live-moment new to the Skeleton Clique: Tyler Joseph crowd-surfing an air mattress from the B-stage all the way back to the mainstage.
The show concluded, as all twenty one pilots shows do, with an electric performance of Trees, ultimately ending with the boys crowd-standing with bass drums and shooting confetti all the way to Brooklyn. Tyler and Josh climbed back onto the stage and hit-it-home with their time-honored phrase: “We’re twenty one pilots and so are you. We’ll see you next time. Peace.”
Before I begin the final paragraph of praise for all the performers, I can’t write about this show without mentioning the ugly. Many fans were left with a sour taste in their mouth after The Garden failed on many accounts to properly accommodate and communicate with disabled fans. It is an unfortunate reality that, often out of the public-eye, disabled fans still often struggle to have the same enjoyable concert experiences as able-bodied individuals.
Overall, though, the Icy Tour at Madison Square Garden was an incredible show, all the way from Peter McPoland’s high energy and explosive passion to the Clique throwing up their three fingers. As always, twenty one pilots is a show you never want to miss. Catch them in your city here: https://www.twentyonepilots.com/tour