Festival season may be winding down, but 21 Pilots showed up for their headlining set at Outside Lands on Friday (Aug. 9) with so much adrenaline you’d think they were revving at the start of an action-packed summer.
After making their entrance by striding in front of a sedan completely engulfed in flames, duo Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun wasted no time in getting San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on their level, emotionally and otherwise. “Jumpsuit” and “Levitate,” the first two tracks off their 2018 album Trench, led off the set, and Joseph rolled out a “Fur Elise” classical intro for “Heathens.” They were clearly eager to get to the crowdpleaser ASAP, and fans matched Joseph for every word of the sing-song chorus as the visuals threw him and Dun under splashes of neon green and purple — the Joker’s signature colors for the Suicide Squad soundtrack smash, naturally.
Joseph lapped up every minute of his fans’ attention and relished in goofing off whenever he could — even if it came at the cheeky expense of others. After shouting out Lil Wayne and blink-182, who’d played the Land’s End stage just before them, Joseph dedicated “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV” to “everyone except Tom DeLonge,” the pop-punk trio’s former guitarist and founding member. From there, Joseph threw his floral shirt over his face as a makeshift veil when Dun took his off for “Lane Boy,” and he and Dun were joined onstage by guys in haz mat suits and gas masks as steam jets doused the stage.
A quick costume change had Joseph changing into a skeleton hoodie and a Blurryface-era red beanie, and Joseph and Dun proceeded to get bolder with how far they could push themselves: during “Holding on to You,” Joseph walked straight over the audience using their hands as stepping stones, and Dun dropped his drumsticks for a backflip before the end of the song.
The pair then encouraged the crowd to get rowdy and physical, too. During “Ride” Joseph goaded hundreds of festival-goers to climb up onto the shoulders of the person next to them, a stunt he’s honed on the road, and “My Blood” devolved into madness as the band had the camera crew spotlight the dance moves of security, who then lined up with Joseph and Dun and hopped from right to left as one goofy, quick-stepping unit. Both of them walked back out into (and onto, technically) the crowd multiple times, and Joseph, in particular, enjoyed getting as close as possible to those who’d waited hours to see them.
“Chlorine” and “Trees” sustained the energy of the set through the end, and fans were dancing and beaming just as broadly as Joseph and Dun were right on up through the final moments, which saw the shell of the car bursting into flames one more time. 21 Pilots may have torched a vehicle and turned their stage into a hazardous zone, but given the glowing faces of their fans, it’s safe to say they hardly crashed and burned at Outside Lands.