Many passersby wondered what the line was for (as so many people are usually curious of any line). There was only one answer.
ONE OK ROCK.
Fans near and far gathered on the snowy evening of February 9th to attend their completely sold out show. For a band making their very first U.S. debut after 9 years and to sell out a show like this is certainly rare. Some camped out and waited for hours just so they can get the absolute front row in the standing area for maximum enjoyment of head-banging, moshing and body surfing pleasure.
The air was filled with exploding excitement as the staff began letting concert-goers in from the cold. One by one, everyone ran downstairs toward the live hall, hoping to get the best spot to see the band. Even though the show started late (as it usually does) with instrument tuning and the like, the lights dimmed and the band members came out one by one to “Introduction ~Where idiot should go~.” Drummer Tomoya was the first to enter to the deafening sound of cheers and shouts from the already excited crowd; next up was bassist Ryota, coming out shirtless and in baggy pants– almost reminiscent of Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Guitarist Toru was next and came out riling up the crowd even more. Last but not least was the vocalist, Taka, and it was down to business.
Starting off with “Ending story??” from their latest album “Jinsei x Boku”, the crowd danced and sang along with Taka as he encouraged everyone to go crazy and went on to “Deeper Deeper” and “Nothing Helps,” followed by “C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h.”
During the first MC, Taka accidentally shouted out in English, “What’s up, L.A.?!” Many in the crowd laughed, some even shouting to correct him. From here, he asked everyone in the crowd to crouch down as low as they could as they were about to jump to the next song. The standing area were trying their best to without falling or bumping into others, to which where Taka commented in English, “This is really hard to coordinate.” Once the crowd had situated themselves and in position, Taka announced the next song to be “Let’s Take It Someday.” He cued everyone to get ready to jump and the entire standing section exploded like sprouts popping out of the ground. The energy exchange between the band and the crowd was mutual; with Ryota and Toru playing their instruments while skillfully head-banging with the audience, while Tomoya struck his drums as hard as he could as his response to everyone’s current hot-blooded nature in “Jibun Rock.”
After a heavy, rock out session, it was time to cool off a bit with some ballads. The stage went dark as the intro to “Be the Light” started. This song is quite emotional, as Taka wrote this to commemorate the Tohoku disaster 3 years ago. Mobile phones were all out at this time, waving back and forth like a windshield wiper cosmo; there were even some teary-eyed fans in the crowd as they sang along. The stage faded to black for a short moment to the audience clapping and cheering after the emotional ballad. To heat things back up, Tomoya, Ryota and Toru engaged in a short jam session, with Taka joining in near its end to bring the crowd back up into a rioting frenzy with “Liar.”
Following with another MC, the band members decided to have a little fun with the fans with their self introductions in English. Ryota started it off with saying how “fucking crazy” everyone had been so far. Toru was up next by shouting into the crowd “Do you know who I am?!” with the fans shouting their responses energetically. He repeated this a few times and finally replied with, “Fucking perfect.” Tomoya stood up from his drum set and yelled “Do you like music?!”, with the crowd shouting, “Yes!” He repeated this a few times and then said, “We like music, too!” Taka got the mic back, introduced himself and asked if people understood his English. He was surprised when people said yes, but let’s be honest here, Taka’s pronunciation has improved tremendously since their early days of “Zeitakubyou.” Despite the positive response, he confessed, “I can’t speak English. I just memorized these lines.” Even though the band had an English script to memorize, their sense of humor and excitement needed no translation.
Taka had engaged the audience to sing the intro “whoas” for a minute or two for “Answer is Near” and into “Re:make,” where he got too excited and accidentally dropped his mic for a second with his attempt to his jump off of the monitor speaker on stage. To keep the impetus going with fans, the band switched gears and played “Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer,” the first single they released since they continued on as a 4-member band. Announcing the last number, “The Beginning,” Taka promised they will be back and stated, “This is not the end, but the beginning for us all.” The battle of who can rock the hardest between the fans and the band started once more; many moshed and body-surfed to the heavy hitting number to keep the security guards up front busy. What was unexpected was having the vocalist jump into the crowd, while the rest of his band members concentrated on playing. A panicked roadie made his way out from backstage to grab him back up, with the help from one of the guards. Despite their better efforts, the roadie and security guard ended up supporting Taka on their respective shoulders until the song was over.
The call for an encore started seconds after the band exited the stage and began chanting between “One more song!” and the band’s name. Once the stage lights came back on, several people in the crowd were spotted with mysterious white balloons in hand. Guitarist Toru and Taka came back on, with Toru carrying out an acoustic guitar with him. Playing a short intro, the duo performed “Wherever you are,” with fans clapping, waving their balloons left and right, and sang along. Toward the end of the song, Tomoya and Ryota came out, situated themselves with their respective instruments, and the band played together to the outro.
To bring the night to an end, Taka shouted, “What time is it?!” The fans responded with the band’s name. The exchange lasted a few seconds. Taka admitted, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” They ended on a high, energetic note with “NO SCARED” and brought the fans back into a head-banging and body-surfing mode. Wanting to stay longer, the band members walked around on stage, clapping to the audience for a job well done, throwing picks and drum sticks before their final bow. They had done it; a successful U.S. debut with both sold out shows in L.A. and New York.
Before their final exit, Ryota shouted out, “You guys are the best! Thank you very much!” in Japanese.
ONE OK ROCK, a band that went from sold out shows at Budokan and Yokohama Arena, two of the most prestigious stages in Japan, to sold out shows worldwide. This is a band you need to keep an eye on. The momentum they have received from their tours show that they’re not planning on slowing down anytime soon. As good as they are now, they still have much potential to grow with their heavy-hitting rock songs.
The band will be back in the States in May as they will be performing at Rock On The Range 2014 in Columbus, Ohio on May 16th-18th. They will be performing alongside some heavy hitting bands, like Avenged Sevenfold, Guns n’ Roses, Motorhead, Wolfmother and Mastadon.
Intro ~Where idiot should go~
Let’s Take It Someday
Be the Light
Answer is Near
Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer
Wherever you are (Acoustic version)