One Ok Rock

Venue: The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel, Singapore
Date: 22nd November 2013
Promoter: LAMC Productions
Review by: Fadhil R.
Special Thanks: Andre, and the LAMC Productions team

In the same way that night follows day, the fact that One Ok Rock won our hearts by a combined showmanship and fierce attitude that brought out the kind remarks from fans all over Singapore, there were no harsh criticisms from their homeland, Japan, against them sticking to their rock roots and “stack the ammo” brigade that remain unchanged. Basically it means every album they’ve done, ideas just kept pouring in like as if the band is limitless. The same tone, the same sound all over again, which is pretty neat. If the general drive of what was said of the band being motivated all the time for performances had been aimed at the fact that alternative rock remains powerful at taking the fans into centre stage, then it’s all good. Even if the central tone was only by the looks of one man, traditionally muscular, is going through extremely bruising times of interacting with the crowd, having had to define his brilliant vocals, then it’s an awesome treat for the fans.

Just go onto the stage, loosen your clothes, and we’ll have a health check. The crowd was ready for that and Coliseum wasn’t the best venue everyone’s expecting, but is one place that you can get a full view of the awesomeness, up-close. What I fail to see is how some of these people, fans or the media — whoever it might be — can either be so dense or so hypocritical. The venue is “tight” and “competitive” because of every band expressing their love for music on the big stage to an unknown crowd and still rock despite weather conditions. I applaud them all anyways. But does this really mean something? Is One Ok Rock coming to our shores an indication of strength Singapore possesses of pulling in more great bands? Surprisingly, that could be the case.

You could feel that the crowd was struck by the “Assassin’s Creed” lookalike banner being hung as the backdrop, yet everyone was pumped by the announcement of the band’s arrival stage in Japanese. Taka, the vocalist and his comrades changed the mood and didn’t hesitate too much with songs like “Ending Story” and “Deeper Deeper”. Just like fans everywhere, they went ballistic and mental by jumping to no end. This has become some sort of a distracting debate in a good way, which clearly shows that on that night, no one and I mean no one, pulled out their handphones to snap pictures from the moment One Ok Rock stepped into the ring. Except me, that is. Even ‘Nothing Helps’ and other pump fisting tunes like ‘Let’s Take It Someday’ and ‘Jibun Rock’ go without saying that in realistic terms, the kind of feeling that get the pulses racing, but when we talk about the kind of band that gets pulses racing, the kind of atmosphere memories and dreams are made of, then One Ok Rock are the ones especially close to Asian hearts. The band by then is beginning to shape up as we speak with songs of that caliber gaining momentum rapidly.

Having said that, while One Ok Rock has not won or received as many awards nor recognition in the last few years, compared to Fall Out Boy’s greatness or The Used’s jaw-dropping stage presence, it is clear that the band’s efforts just haven’t been as decisive in terms of achieving collective glory, other than video games and live-action manga soundtracks. Then again, who needs glory when the band has one of the greatest fanbases worldwide? Personally, I do agree that the band has been outstanding in their live performances, in fairness; the boys by then had begun wrecking the stage with their silly antics and consistently navigating the crowd’s movement to which they desire. Taka, who was once a member of a boy band, was the most familiar among the rest and for him however, the feeling goes a little deeper. He commanded the sellout crowd to squat down right before ‘C.H.A.O.S.M.Y.T.H’ began, and trust me, everyone was eager to do it. And what better way to do it than to jump straight off from the ground with sheer power. A wonderful sight but I might elaborate that slightly.

As I have explained many times before, performing on a lot of tours doesn’t mean much from a band perspective. Sure, I understand that the media and advertisers love the hype such music brings to the entertainment, but a great band is all about chemistry and taking your fellow band mates forward with you. That’s One Ok Rock’s trademark right there, and we are more than happy for them.

On that note, I must say that I found the die-hard fans, female fans especially, who decide to throw bras and panties or probably facemasks to enhance their chances of getting a one-night stand with the band rather strange. While I respect their decision to express themselves in whatever way they feel necessary, I seriously can’t see the One Ok Rock faithful doing the same for any other bands regardless how fantastic their live performances may have been. Or maybe it’s just my opinion. Anyways, despite what some have said and its obvious flaws, the sound system of the venue, the timing, the lack of clear air, transportation and lightings were somehow converted into being a winner who had the last laugh. The Coliseum is a worthwhile location. But at times the anger stirred with excitement and paranoia of the crowd from all sides, have been baffling. It has been revealing too, a reflection of personality and the conversion of a concert into a kind hoping to be a metal show where reality matters little, another stick with which to get their friends headbang together.

There are no prizes for guessing which song they going to play next and it was supposed to be the band’s first ever performance in Singapore, so the setlist might change here and there. The fact that they came out differently doesn’t mean they failed in impressing the crowd. ‘No Scared’ and ‘Clock Strikes’ ultimately was their icing on the cake and it’s the kind of inspiration for which you can’t budget. The band can live with that. Or rather, we can live with the outcome. I’m not sure Taka can live with the way a spiky bra is being thrown at his face. As for me, there was a safety-first feel about being in the middle of the crowd, but that’s not a bad thing. When you’re comfortable being in that way and when you’re facing a band like One Ok Rock it makes sense, particularly when you haven’t been moshing for a long time. There’s nothing wrong with riding your friend’s back and getting yourself rise above the crowd in these situations, and both the bassist and drummer lived up to the billing. The fiery guts of them both was effective and you know something badass going to go down when Ryota the bassist had developed an identity that goes with his bass guitar neck line being LED lighted in red.

Most felt it was going to take time. And they’re being proved right at last. ‘Liar’, ‘Re:make’ and ‘The Beginning’ all made their way through the end of the setlist as the band made their final push. If you’re a rose-tinted spectacles; or, in this case, black-blue-tinted spectacles type of person, you might argue that the band got things right on Friday night. They’re in the zone almost immediately every song they’ve played, probably due to the heat but nevertheless, they absorbed enough energy from the crowd’s support for the rest of the setlist and then come out guns blazing with songs to spare. It’s a valid enough narrative, too and you’d almost be tempted to give them a kiss. The only way you’re going to close a concert like this is by tactically saying goodbye and pretend not to have an encore. Talk about ending without breaking a sweat, but calm was needed as the crowd was chanting the band to be back on stage. Yet the chants didn’t last long. Even if you don’t follow One Ok Rock since their early days, the band reappearing in the spotlight for the encore with no words except for their gleeful expressions and loving body language is the kind of story that warms the heart. After all, this is a band that hardly played in Southeast Asia so it meant a lot to them. It also means that we’ll get to see bassist Ryota at least one more time shirtless. “One more song, ok?” Taka immersed himself with ‘Wherever You Are’ and rightly so, he looked willing to ignite the crowd once more with his mesmerizing vocals. And no this is not a ‘end on a high note’ kind of feeling. This is seizing an opportunity.

It goes back to two factors: one is that the band’s brilliant showmanship is beyond my control, and the other is how the presence of each band member altered the mood of everyone in that arena, in a positive way. Their style was so direct that I didn’t even bother taking pictures anymore and that’s one step forward. What’s for sure is that One Ok Rock will continue to be a force to be reckoned with. They are close to the finished article, but not quite there yet. Toru, Taka, Ryota and Tomoya bowed gracefully as they end the night by throwing drumsticks and picks into the crowd. One thing seems certain. Every single soul out there wasn’t depressed after the show. Well, perhaps a few with post-concert depression.