Concert Review: Chef’Special and Twenty One Pilots Rock Madison Square Garden

Chef’Special is a Dutch Indie-Pop band that formed in 2008, and I’m calling it now – they are going to be the next big thing. In order for you to understand why I am so certain of this, I need to give you a bit of backstory.

Three years ago, I went to a Fall Out Boy concert with my sister. There were two warm up acts: the second was Panic! At The Disco, and the first was Twenty One Pilots. At the time, my sister and I – along with a majority of people at the concert – were ecstatic to see FOB and PAD, but we had never heard of Twenty One Pilots. When Twenty One Pilots graced the stage, they tore it up. They were so incredible, that I made sure to write down their name, and 5 hours later I had downloaded every single one of their songs that I could find. Three years later, and they are headlining the Emotional Roadshow world tour, in a whopping 112 shows around the world. Their last leg in the US culminated in New York, at Madison Square Park, in an arena that sat roughly 20,000 people. To say they blew up big would be an understatement.

I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane. I promise you it was relevant, and this is why; Chef’Special is in the exact same position that Twenty One Pilots was in three years ago. Chef’Special was the first opening act in a tour for a world-renowned band, and it will only be a matter of time until they are the headliners. However, I think it will take them less than three years.

To give you an idea of Chef’Special’s style: if Twenty One Pilots, Rizzle Kicks, and Collie Buddz had a musical baby, then Chef’Special would be the newborn. Like Twenty One Pilots, they do not conform to one genre of music; their beats and vocals have flavors of pop, hip-hop, rock, rap, and reggae.

I was fortunate enough to see Chef’Special open for Twenty One Pilots at Madison Square Garden, and boy, they did not disappoint. It is so rare that a band is even better live than they are in the recording studio: this band from the Netherlands is one of them. They opened their set with Amigo. Fun fact, they actually recorded the music video for this song during their tour. The audience generally seemed unfamiliar with Chef’Special’s songs, but that was irrelevant. Joshua Nolet, the lead vocalist of the band, was so effective at getting the crowd riled up: he exuded a irresistibly enthusiastic energy that the crowd fed off of, and sent it right back tenfold.

There were many things that Joshua and the band had going for them: their musicality was incredible, their vocals on point, and Nolet’s dance moves were insane – man oh man, that singer has rhythm. He also knew just how to get the audience involved, with hand bobs, fist pumps, head bangs, and call-and-response. For example, in their Biggest Monkey song, Joshua encouraged the crowd to find their inner monkey, and sing along with the lyrics.

Some artists have the ability to make it seem like they are singing directly to you. During their song, In Your Arms, the lights were dimmed, and everybody put up their phone lights. It was as if the crowd was the night’s sky, twinkling like stars, and Chef’Special was shining brighter than them all. The effect was magical, and the vocals melted like butter, and spoke directly to the soul.

Chef’Special was also smart at getting their brand out there – they would consistently get their name out to the audience, and thank the crowd. I can assure you that their name will most certainly not be forgotten. Just like I knew Twenty One Pilots was the real deal three years ago, I know Chef’Special has something incredibly special – and it would be a crime if the world never got to see it.

When Chef’Special ended their set, the second warm up act, MUTEMATH, took to the stage. MUTEMATH’s lead vocalist, Paul Meany, has a voice that is simply angelic, reminiscent of Alex Clare and Sam Smith. The lighting for their set was incredible; with a disco ball, and flashing watering neon lights, which were almost mathematical in their perfection. On the side of the stage, the bands name was lit up – and through the letters, you could see a projection of the live show, which had a truly beautiful impact. The band also had great stage presence, and knew how to put on a show. The lead singer flung a ball shaped light around his head in a circular motion, Darren King played the drums in the middle of the audience, three band members played drums at the same time on stage, and Paul did a backflip over his piano numerous times! Twenty One Pilots really know how to pick their warm-up acts.

At 9:00pm, Twenty One Pilots took to the stage. The backdrop to the set was elaborate, with skulls, rabbits, and many other abstract by enchanting images. Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun came out wearing their signature masks. The crowd went absolutely crazy, screaming at the top of their lungs. TOP is another band that is just as good live as they are on their albums, and their fans loved it. Clearly loyal to the band, the fans knew every single word to every single song, and were more than happy to take over when Tyler gave them the mic.

There were a number of things that Twenty One Pilots did during their concert that I have never seen before. For one thing, they worked the room like no one else. They began the set on the stage. Out of nowhere, at one point during the set, Tyler ended up standing on a box in the top row of the Nosebleed section. Then Tyler and Josh moved to a stage in the middle of the room, and performed a medley of their old classics. After this, the audience was given a wooden plank to hold up, and Tyler would stand on this plank, which only had his crowd for support. There was a ‘Hamster Ball of Death’ stunt, where Josh got into a plastic ball, and ran around the audience, again using their hands for support. Another elaborate stunt was during the song Car Radio, where Tyler stood on what seemed to be a fifty-foot podium at the back of the room, and ripped his mask off.

My favorite part of the concert was in the middle of Twenty One Pilots act. They brought both opening acts back on stage, and they all performed covers of iconic songs together, such as Shout. At one point, while a T-Rex was playing on the drums (because why not), Joshua Nolet whipped out his insane dance moves during Jump Around, performing some expertly executed breakdancing steps. Throughout the night, the humor of every single artist was unbelievable. This was especially exhibited in the group covers: the Titanic music came on, Josh Dun played the classic melody on a saxophone, and Joshua Nolet did the Titanic hold with a fellow artist, which gained a well-deserved chuckle from the audience.

True to tradition, Twenty One Pilots ended the night on Alone, where yet again, the fans held up planks of wood for Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph to stand on. At the end of the song, the two performers hit the planks of wood they were standing on, and then threw their hands up to the sky, and each time they did this, a burst of confetti and smoke would spray up. It was an unbelievable ending to a truly phenomenal night.

My biggest takeaway from the night was how gracious and supportive Twenty One Pilots, MUTEMATH, and Chef’Special were to each other, and to their fans. The Emotional Roadshow provided music and artists that were everything the entertainment industry should be, and it was an emotional roller coaster to watch. If you ever get the chance to watch any of these bands live, DO IT! You will forever regret it if you don’t.

And watch out for Chef’Special. They are certainly special. I’m telling you, that band is the next big thing.

If you want to check out Chef’Special’s music, or find out more about them, follow this link:

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