Twenty One Pilots: Cinema Experience

Have you ever felt so good at a place that you hardly wanted to leave? Have you ever had such a cathartic experience, that it nearly skyrocketed you to another dimension? I’m trying hard not to overpraise this, but truth be told, the extended cut of the livestream concert that Twenty One Pilots hosted in the middle of the pandemic, released in the movie theaters for one night only, has made me feel exactly like that.

It’s not surprising, though. I have been a big fan of this band for six or seven years, I can proudly say I grew up with them in a way. They aren’t just a band to me; as cheesy as it sounds, the way I always describe them is: they are a second family, a second home, as they took a very influential part in my long journey of inner growth and self-discovery. It always amazes me how their songs are so happy in terms of sound but so dark if you listen to the lyrics, as if the music is the body that withholds the pain, the anxiety, the depression or any other kind of emotion that the lyrics represents. And when those emotions become too much, the body releases them in the form of nosebleeds or tears or even deep, haunting screams which for someone who’s dealing with these emotions themselves, could be a cry for help, a safe space, a sense of understanding and being understood. I am so sure that Twenty One Pilots saved multiple lives by now and they are continuing to do so. This is the point where a band ceases to be just a band anymore; they are saviors, superheroes in flesh and bone.

The cinema experience was something else. It was a movie, a concert and a documentary all at once. The whole show started with a quiz on the band – not to hype myself up, but I answered all of the questions correctly – and continued with what seemed like a talk show hosted in Dema. Long-time fans must know that Twenty One Pilots build their discography around an entire storyline, which is just peak genius. So yes, the cinema experience had everything: Blurryface, Dema, the bishops and even our favourite little alien-thing, Ned. The most amazing moment, however, was when it switched onto the concert mode; Tyler sitting on a couch, suddenly bursting out the lyrics of ‘Choker’ without any music in the background, one hundred percent caused goosebumps on everyone’s skin . His vocals are just mesmerizing throughout the entire show. The songs are remixed, but in a fully enjoyable way, being new and nostalgic all at once. It is especially fun when the songs morph into each other and you begin to recognize which album they are from. Funny enough, I myself ended up changing my mind every time I heard a song, saying things like: “Yes, I always knew deep down that I am a Trench era girl” or “Now that I begin to think about it, Vessel must be my favourite album after all” or even “Neah, forget about it. I came in during the Blurryface era, this is the album I am going to stick with”. So yes, being a Twenty One Pilots fan is being unable to decide which album you like the best. They are all unique and each represents different states of one’s life. And this movie is, after all, a journey through time, through the lives of Tyler and Josh, as we do not only listen to a concert, but we get glimpses of where Twenty One Pilots came from and how much has happened since then. Watching the journey of their growth and expansion brings tears to every fans eyes; it is impossible not to acknowledge what these two, incredibly talented men accomplished with their love for music. The power they captured everyone’s hearts with is really special. Music, and art in general, is the best medicine for the soul, and this band is one of the most fitting representations of that idea.

I do not know if we’ll get the chance to see this version of the livestream concert ever again, but if we do, I advise everyone to just go and watch it, because as hard as I am trying, I just cannot express or emphasise enough how amazing this experience was. It never bored me for a second, even though it was a series of switches from the talk show to the concert, from the concert to Dema commercials, from the commercials to the production and behind the scenes of the concert – which is amazing by the way – and from the production back to the concert again, or even to the youth of Twenty One Pilots and their very first concert with a tiny crowd, which must have been my favourite part of the whole movie. Now that I think about it, the phrase that stuck with me the most was a young Tyler Joseph on the screen, saying something along the lines of: “I am not getting paid for this yet, but I really hope I will someday.” This sentence has shaken me to the core and keeps on inspiring me, knowing that passion, hard work and dreaming on a larger scale are always worth pursuing, as they can turn into something amazing overtime. 

All in all, I cannot say anything I haven’t said yet, maybe besides the fact that sometimes I even forgot I am not physically at a concert; the guys truly outshined themselves and seeing how much hard work, dedication and effort it required to bring this idea into fruition is truly remarkable. Truth be told, I entered the movie theater feeling drained and tired of life, yet excited to see something I know would be amazing, but in the end, I left with so much more; something I will cherish and remember until the day I no longer am.

Pom Poko Live at the Mash House – Review

The Mash House in Edinburgh is a small venue, its performance space being a straight edged, low ceilinged, oblong black box about the size of a double garage room. There’s nothing superfluous about the space, nothing to hide behind, and to that end Pom Poko set the stage alive.
With a beaming, broad smile and arms cast wide to a packed room, Ragnhild Fangel enveloped the crowd. As Pom Poko’s lead singer, she never once faltered in her performance while she joyously moved from careening punk-rock chants to angelic melodies, sung at the tip of her register. She has a salt-of-the-earth presence about her which is hard not to like, and watching her hands dance; wrists twisting, fingers twirling as she sung, any air of pretence that might have been perceived, simply melted away. Wholesome is the adjective that came to mind when she first spoke to the crowd and said “We are here to play you a… concert”, her non-idiomatic phrase served only to make the Norwegian musicians come across as ever more likeable to the English speaking listeners in attendance.
Across the drums, bass, and guitar, you got the sense that these were well trained musicians. They carried off crunchy, sharp, jangling riffs, set to odd jazz time signatures, calling to mind the Japanese band Zekkei Kujira. Thinking of another Japanese influence, it became more plausible that Pom Poko could be a reference to the 1994 Studio Ghibli movie by the same title, which featured adorable Tanuki’s, often described as raccoon dogs, set out to save their land from environmental disaster. Pom Poko (the band) play with a similar zeal where on one hand they embody a carefree, joyous, and wholesome spirit, while on the other they push interesting song structures and play with an effervescent life of a young band who are hungry for more. And its wonderful.
For most of the crowd who were thrashing away in the little black box room, Pom Poko was a convincing reminder of the ecstasy of live music.

From Slowthai to Carson Coma – What is it like to attend a festival in the middle of a pandemic?

As a devoted fan of concerts, festivals, and music in general, I, like many others, were devastated when the whole World went under lockdown last year. That meant that not only we couldn’t leave the house without a mask and had to minimize social interactions, but we had to say goodbye to all our beloved summer festivals too. Personally, it was especially hard to let go of Electric Castle, one of the most popular festivals held in Romania, because it would’ve been the perfect graduation gift to attend the concert of an amazing line-up after finishing my university studies, thus including Twenty One Pilots, Machine Gun Kelly, The Neighbourhood, Alec Benjamin or Foals. The waves of the pandemic covered everything in the blink of an eye and washed away all my hopes and dreams for the best festival experience I could’ve ever had. 

Thankfully, this year the organizers came up with the idea of Electric Castle Special, which was similar to the original festival, only shaped in such ways to align with the criteria of holding concerts in the middle of a pandemic, which meant that those who were vaccinated or did a PCR test before entering the festival, could fully enjoy live music this August. One part of the festival was held in Bontida, the other took place in Cluj and included multiple locations with various stages. I had the sheer luck of my workplace collaborating with the festival, and this is how I got in, free of charge (of course, with the Vaccination Certificate and the intention to work), and was able to attend two concerts I was looking forward to the most – Slowthai and Carson Coma.

Slowthai is a British rapper from Northampton, and I have to admit, I only discovered his existence maybe a month before the festival started, thanks to an ad on which you could hear Doorman, a song he made in collaboration with Mura Masa. His music is a combination of hip-hop, punk-rap, and grime, some containing his views on political issues regarding Great Britain, which lead to a little bit of controversy around his name. I went specifically for this one song (worth it, I still remember how an old man was dancing next to me and just vibing to his music, probably having zero clue about what the lyrics meant), but I ended up staying for the whole concert because he was not only a genius on the stage but also very inspirational in all he was saying. To be frank, he made his way into my heart pretty fast and I just loved how open and outspoken he was. I would definitely recommend giving his music a go if one is not afraid to hear some spicy manifestations here and there.

Now you see, Carson Coma is the other end of the spectrum when it comes to my taste in music. While Slowthai could be called bold, fearless, and vulgar, Carson Coma is just a bunch of guys who give you the silly and awkward “boy next door” vibes, they are like the epitome of what a bohemian is. I became a fan of this Hungarian band a year ago when they released their album called Lesz, ami lesz (What will be, will be) which gained a lot of popularity and not by accident! They are a fresh addition to the Hungarian musical palette, mostly thanks to how they are able to combine and cover multiple genres, from alternative rock to the beat music of the 60s, and the way their lyrics work so well with what they intend to communicate into the World (a little fun fact is that they sing in English too, and even have a song in Italian). 

The connection they have with each other and with their fans is insane, not to mention how purely talented and bright these guys are. Me and my friend who loves Carson Coma just as much as I do, couldn’t skip the opportunity to attend their concert. And we are so glad that we went! I can’t say there were many people there (If somehow any of the Carson Coma members ever stumble across this article, I have a message for you guys: Please don’t let this discourage you and come back to Cluj someday to play many more amazing shows! In fact, I know people who couldn’t attend the festival, but would’ve loved to be there.), but these guys had so much energy, put their heart and soul into the whole show, and were really humble and kind to the people who gathered to see them, as they came down to chat a bit and take some photos with the fans. It was such a great experience to see and hear them live in so many ways, and I am really grateful that I could be a part of it.

To conclude all, Electric Castle Special was an amazing experience, even if I couldn’t enjoy all the concerts held. My heart is still aching for the Aurora concert I had to skip because of work, but I believe that both Slowthai and Carson Coma did a great job fulfilling the “withdrawal symptoms” that last year caused in me with the canceled festival season. My advice for you is: don’t waste your youth by not attending festivals. It could change your life and get you out of your comfort zone in the best way possible! And yes, I know, the pandemic isn’t something that should be toyed with, but as the example above states, it is possible to have fun in a carefully checked and well-organized environment, if people decide to behave like decent human beings, and follow the rules required.

I hope that next year will bring back the original festival too, and we will be able to enjoy the live music experience further!