When they first became friends a decade ago, before they were even in a band together, Twenty One Pilots vocalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun would sit around at home in Columbus, Ohio watching videos of bands playing huge sets at Reading and Leeds Festivals, fantasising about whether their music might take them to those hallowed stages someday.
“We were looking at those crowds and trying to wrap our minds around the British music listener,” remembers Dun. “We’ve always had such respect – and kind of a fear – of coming to the UK and playing our music. Reading and Leeds was always a big dream, and a high benchmark.”
When the pair were asked to headline the legendary twin festivals for the first time in August 2019, they decided to do something special, marking the occasion by paying tribute to the giants of British music. They did this by covering ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, and it’s safe to say the choice went down well. “I’ll never forget it,” says Dun. “It was one of my favourite moments of our career.”
For Joseph, the band’s songwriter, playing the Oasis classic and hearing the crowd come together in one voice to sing it back was equally memorable – but it also made his competitive streak itch. “Playing that song, man, it made me want to go: ‘Why can’t I write a song that good?’” he says with a self-deprecating laugh. “I still think of that performance. It impacted me so much watching the fans connect with that song. We didn’t even need to be there. We just happened to usher that song to them, and then they interacted with it. That sort of connection is something I’m still pursuing and searching for. Those shows at Reading and Leeds specifically have influenced decision-making and songwriting that we’ve done since then, so they’re very special to us.”