The first day of Edmonton's SONiCBOOM Festival began with miserable weather, as the chilly winds of an early-arriving fall season whipped around the Borden Park festival grounds, which eventually turned into a light drizzle of rain. However, the dreary weather was no downer on the sold out opening day of the festivals eighth year. With a stacked bill of nine severely talented bands, and headlined by none other than the infamous Twenty One Pilots, Borden Park was in for one wild night.
Kicking off the festival with high spirits, hometown locals known as The Royal Foundry, had concert goers rushing towards the stage with sparked curiosity after passing through the ticket gates. Progressing on with fellow Canadian artists, Darcys, Wildlife and Hannah Georgas, all which kept the spirits of those gathered in front of the stage warmed and full of delight. Travelling all the way from Australia, Atlas Genius delivered a whole new dynamic to SONiCBOOM, taking advantage of moving around swiftly on stage, while encouraging the audience to follow their lead in order to keep warm. In tow of Atlas Genius, New Zealand's The Naked and Famous had the crowd singing and swaying along to each song, which forced smiles to crack through onto the band members faces. Completely turning up the excitement, July Talk changed the game on stage. With strangely intriguing flirtation between vocalists, the band came out with a bang; marching around, dancing and getting up close and personal with the audience, causing an outburst of shrieks and shouts from the fans in the front row. Beginning her set on top of a large LCD screen, Halsey cranked up the heat with her performance, including various blasts of C02 and pyro, the Brooklyn pop-artist pranced about throughout her performance, bringing an almost-sexy atmosphere to the festival, while pleasantly delivering her 13 song set with ease.
After much anticipation, the time had finally arrived for Saturday night's headliner to take the spotlight. Large LCD screens bordered the back of the stage, while pulsating various images in black and white, resulting in a eruption of screams from the packed field out front. Kicking off their set with 'HeavyDirtySoul', the two-some that makes up the entirety of Twenty One Pilots appeared, wearing red suits accompanied with black ski masks; fog machines and red lights were blasted, resulting in a silhouetted stage, casting a rather subliminal haunting image over their opening. Removing the red coats and ski masks, rolling on with various hits such as: 'Ride', 'Heathens', 'Lane Boy', 'Stressed Out', Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun fired on all cylinders for the duration of their performance, as if literally fueled by the audiences energy. Between covering songs by House of Pain and Dr.Dre, doing back flips on stage, crowd surfing a drum kit, and the vocalist rolling through the crowd in a large, inflatable hamster-ball, the guys had easily out performed every band that had played before them that day. Not necessarily in a negative way, but in a way that has lead them to have the audience eating out of the palms of their hands, so to speak, by their ability to successfully inspire and entice this generations youth unlike any other with their songs of living with imperfection and essentially going-against-the-grain with what's expected in life. Needless to say, opening day of SONiCBOOM 2016 had completely blown any speculation of the festival's teetering survival out of the park. SONiCBOOM Festival is alive, well, and still strong, and I for one, truly cannot wait to see what is in store for next year.