March 14, 2013


SXSW Breakout Band Alert: Genre-Melting Duo Twenty One Pilots

Shannon Stewart for Fuse
Shannon Stewart for Fuse

SXSW is a makin' n' breakin' ground for new bands, and Twenty One Pilots may just prove to be the breakout act of 2013 based upon their remarkably eclectic opening set for Paramore.

This Columbus, Ohio duo melds Eminem, the Strokes, Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons and even shades of Passion Pit into an unholy mixture of pop, indie and avant music that no other band comes close to approximating.

Check out Twenty One Pilots, Paramore and more in our daily SXSW gallery.

The strange thing about Twenty One Pilots is that you might listen to them for 10 minutes and immediately write them off. After all, frontman Tyler Joseph's schizophrenic delivery (he frequently raps from behind a skull mask) seems calculated in a way that doesn't quite gel with the band's seemingly unhinged style. 

Hell, he even donned a P*ssy Riot mask for one song. But 25 minutes into their set, reservations disappear when you realize how uncommonly talented Joseph is. He's not toying around with music as much as he is reaching out to the audience with his genre-free energy.

His stage presence is impossible to ignore, and not just because of his ability to flip from rapping to ivory-tickling within the same minute. He's the first person to combine digestible rock, rap and electronic music without seeming dated since… well, maybe the '90s.

In short, get ready to see more Twenty One Pilots in your life. Because with a presence like this, Tyler Joseph isn't going away anytime soon.