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Twenty One Pilots, Nas and Run the Jewels at X Games

Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots hopping from his piano during the band's concert at X Games Aspen.
Tomas Zuccareno/ESPN |

Around the town

Overheard in the crowd: “I’m 42. ‘Illmatic’ came out when I was in college, when I was all about smoking bongs and Nas.” – Man responding to a teenager who asked him how and why he was rapping along word-for-word during most of Nas’ set

Only in Aspen: Man in a body-length fur coat and hat, taking in Run the Jewels from the VIP section

And then there’s this: The blizzard that shut down Saturday night’s Snowboard Superpipe final also stopped bus service from Rubey Park to Buttermilk just after 8 p.m., which kept our reporter and a crowd of deadmau5 fans from getting to the venue for the DJ’s snowy headlining show.

Backflips, soaring leaps and feats of balance weren’t limited to the on-snow competitions at X Games this weekend.

Headlining the attendant music festival at Buttermilk on Friday night, duo Twenty One Pilots gave the sold-out, singing-along crowd a medal-worthy performance filled with theatrics and extreme showmanship.

Drummer Josh Dun did a flip off of a piano in the middle of “Hold Onto You” and kept the beat going on the reggae-tinged “Ride” while, yes, riding on the crowd on a wooden platform (they closed the show with both members on top of the crowd, banging mallets on bass drums during “Guns for Hands”). Singer and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Joseph bounded across the stage throughout, with running leaps on and off risers and a high physical drama to match hits like “Car Radio” and “Tear in My Heart.”



The band’s hourlong set was a spectacle worthy of the X Games that offered substance along with its overabundant style. Its genre-agnostic approach to music — embracing elements of emo punk, rap, reggae rock, pure pop, piano balladry and the ukulele — made Twenty One Pilots the breakout band of 2015 and has sent the album “Blurryface” near the top of the Billboard charts. In concert, the band swung wildly from hard-charging tracks like opener “HeavyDirtySoul” to the piano-based anthem “Stressed Out” to the dub-tinged screamer “Polarize” — and somehow it worked. “Lane Boy,” a song about the inconsistency of Twenty One Pilots songs with the sing-along chorus “Don’t trust a perfect person and don’t trust a song that’s flawless,” sounded like something of a mid-set mission statement.

Backstage, Joseph said his lyrics — mostly confessional and personal — unify the divergent sounds and what might seem like his band’s sonic ADD.



“Musically, the sound hits you from all angles,” he said. “The attitude behind it and the lyrics, I think, is the most consistent part. As much as people listen to it and think it’s crazy, musically it makes sense to us, too. It doesn’t feel crazy to us.”

While Twenty One Pilots offered the allure of the new on Friday, rap great Nas showcased the timeless the night before.

After opening with “Get Down” from the 2002 album “God’s Son,” he told the crowd, “Let’s go back to the beginning,” and kicked into a swaggering, mostly chronological set beginning with “NY State of Mind” and “Life’s a Bitch” from his iconic 1994 debut “Illmatic.” Many of the songs in the “Illmatic”-heavy set came out before most in the enthusiastic audience at the outdoor show were born, but Nas’ hip-hop god status was confirmed by the fact that they rapped along with most of the words. The operatic “Hate Me Now” and the show-stopping closer “One Mic” were high points in a crowd-pleasing hourlong set.

This was a greatest-hits show, but not phoned-in like many such concerts can seem — the Brooklyn rapper was engaged and in command of the lyrical acuity and rhyming skill that put him on top (though he did truncate a few songs that he’s maybe grown tired of). He also seemed to be having a good time: playing air guitar during “Fake Thugs,” marveling at the mountainscape beyond Buttermilk and jokingly explaining the function and cultural importance of a cassette tape to the X Gamers.

After “Hip Hop Is Dead,” his rallying cry and ode to the power of rap music, an encouraged Nas told the crowd, “I think hip-hop is very much alive in this year, 2016. Y’all keep it alive.”

Rap duo Run the Jewels gave a tireless effort opening for Nas, but the results rang hollow for most of the show. A late-arriving crowd put a damper on the performance — as El-P and Killer Mike came onstage to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” on Thursday evening, there were just a few hundred fans in the general-admission section and no more than a few dozen in the VIP area.

Songs that have turned crowds riotous in shows elsewhere over the past year — notably the opening anthemic trio of “Run the Jewels,” “Oh My Darling (Don’t Cry)” and “Blockbuster Night Part 1” — were performed mostly to a field of snow. The duo gave their all, though, and while it wasn’t the fevered mosh-mad scene of most Run the Jewels concerts, the crowd did gradually fill in, and the intense, politically charged tail end proved resonant and rewarding. “Lie, Cheat, Steal” — dedicated to “presidents and warmongers,” among others — and the police-brutality protest song “Early” reinforced that Run the Jewels is bringing a social conscience back to pop music that’s been missing since Rage Against the Machine. You can’t help but be hopeful when you see that activist spirit find a place in the celebration of youth culture that is the X Games.

atravers@aspentimes.com


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Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

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Twenty One Pilots, Nas and Run the Jewels at X Games

Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots hopping from his piano during the band's concert at X Games Aspen.
Tomas Zuccareno/ESPN |

Around the town

Overheard in the crowd: “I’m 42. ‘Illmatic’ came out when I was in college, when I was all about smoking bongs and Nas.” – Man responding to a teenager who asked him how and why he was rapping along word-for-word during most of Nas’ set

Only in Aspen: Man in a body-length fur coat and hat, taking in Run the Jewels from the VIP section

And then there’s this: The blizzard that shut down Saturday night’s Snowboard Superpipe final also stopped bus service from Rubey Park to Buttermilk just after 8 p.m., which kept our reporter and a crowd of deadmau5 fans from getting to the venue for the DJ’s snowy headlining show.

Backflips, soaring leaps and feats of balance weren’t limited to the on-snow competitions at X Games this weekend.

Headlining the attendant music festival at Buttermilk on Friday night, duo Twenty One Pilots gave the sold-out, singing-along crowd a medal-worthy performance filled with theatrics and extreme showmanship.

Drummer Josh Dun did a flip off of a piano in the middle of “Hold Onto You” and kept the beat going on the reggae-tinged “Ride” while, yes, riding on the crowd on a wooden platform (they closed the show with both members on top of the crowd, banging mallets on bass drums during “Guns for Hands”). Singer and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Joseph bounded across the stage throughout, with running leaps on and off risers and a high physical drama to match hits like “Car Radio” and “Tear in My Heart.”





The band’s hourlong set was a spectacle worthy of the X Games that offered substance along with its overabundant style. Its genre-agnostic approach to music — embracing elements of emo punk, rap, reggae rock, pure pop, piano balladry and the ukulele — made Twenty One Pilots the breakout band of 2015 and has sent the album “Blurryface” near the top of the Billboard charts. In concert, the band swung wildly from hard-charging tracks like opener “HeavyDirtySoul” to the piano-based anthem “Stressed Out” to the dub-tinged screamer “Polarize” — and somehow it worked. “Lane Boy,” a song about the inconsistency of Twenty One Pilots songs with the sing-along chorus “Don’t trust a perfect person and don’t trust a song that’s flawless,” sounded like something of a mid-set mission statement.

Backstage, Joseph said his lyrics — mostly confessional and personal — unify the divergent sounds and what might seem like his band’s sonic ADD.





“Musically, the sound hits you from all angles,” he said. “The attitude behind it and the lyrics, I think, is the most consistent part. As much as people listen to it and think it’s crazy, musically it makes sense to us, too. It doesn’t feel crazy to us.”

While Twenty One Pilots offered the allure of the new on Friday, rap great Nas showcased the timeless the night before.

After opening with “Get Down” from the 2002 album “God’s Son,” he told the crowd, “Let’s go back to the beginning,” and kicked into a swaggering, mostly chronological set beginning with “NY State of Mind” and “Life’s a Bitch” from his iconic 1994 debut “Illmatic.” Many of the songs in the “Illmatic”-heavy set came out before most in the enthusiastic audience at the outdoor show were born, but Nas’ hip-hop god status was confirmed by the fact that they rapped along with most of the words. The operatic “Hate Me Now” and the show-stopping closer “One Mic” were high points in a crowd-pleasing hourlong set.

This was a greatest-hits show, but not phoned-in like many such concerts can seem — the Brooklyn rapper was engaged and in command of the lyrical acuity and rhyming skill that put him on top (though he did truncate a few songs that he’s maybe grown tired of). He also seemed to be having a good time: playing air guitar during “Fake Thugs,” marveling at the mountainscape beyond Buttermilk and jokingly explaining the function and cultural importance of a cassette tape to the X Gamers.

After “Hip Hop Is Dead,” his rallying cry and ode to the power of rap music, an encouraged Nas told the crowd, “I think hip-hop is very much alive in this year, 2016. Y’all keep it alive.”

Rap duo Run the Jewels gave a tireless effort opening for Nas, but the results rang hollow for most of the show. A late-arriving crowd put a damper on the performance — as El-P and Killer Mike came onstage to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” on Thursday evening, there were just a few hundred fans in the general-admission section and no more than a few dozen in the VIP area.

Songs that have turned crowds riotous in shows elsewhere over the past year — notably the opening anthemic trio of “Run the Jewels,” “Oh My Darling (Don’t Cry)” and “Blockbuster Night Part 1” — were performed mostly to a field of snow. The duo gave their all, though, and while it wasn’t the fevered mosh-mad scene of most Run the Jewels concerts, the crowd did gradually fill in, and the intense, politically charged tail end proved resonant and rewarding. “Lie, Cheat, Steal” — dedicated to “presidents and warmongers,” among others — and the police-brutality protest song “Early” reinforced that Run the Jewels is bringing a social conscience back to pop music that’s been missing since Rage Against the Machine. You can’t help but be hopeful when you see that activist spirit find a place in the celebration of youth culture that is the X Games.

atravers@aspentimes.com


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User