For most of the foreign rock bands who are struggling to gain momentum worldwide, the U.S. is definitely a tough nut to crack. Saturated with fully-developed idiosyncrasy of every genre of music you can think of, the condescending American market would hardly take any “exotic species” seriously. Even if some of them do create unusual tunes, they may end up not understood or accepted by American people, thus getting no attention at all. However, everything said above does not apply to the Japanese rock band ONE OK ROCK, who embarked on their world tour last October in Paris, and finally made their significant debut in the states with a stunning sold-out concert at Club Nokia on Feb.7th. It is no exaggeration to say that ONE OK ROCK presented a more appealing show than many domestic acts. When more and more musicians are running out of gimmicks to turn the stage into a flamboyant circus show, the four young members of ONE OK ROCK fired up the packed venue with their brilliance and sincerity emanating from the inside. From Taka’s great articulation of English sentences in the lyrics to the well-prepared entertaining English MC, from the impeccable interpretation of instrumentals to Taka’s remarkable ability to animate his distinctive voice, ONE OK ROCK literally smashed the language barrier between a Japanese band and the American audience through ways of communication and their stage presence.
Both pre-concert lighting and sound effects fading away, the darkened venue was wrapped up in incredible excitement which suddenly transformed into thunderous cheers and screams when each of the band members made their grand entrance. However, the clamor was soon engulfed into an ethereally haunting ambiance as Taka seamlessly mingled his elusive husky chant with Toru’s guitar arpeggio, leading the venue to dive into “Ending Story??”. Pounding rhythms from bass and drums growing as the music proceeded, ONE OK ROCK literally blasted open the show when they reached the second chorus of the song. Taka commanded the crowd with his powerful vocals while the energetic bassist Ryota, upper body naked, adopted many daring poses when playing the bass and beckoned the fervent fans to roar louder.
Right after Toru dynamically beat off the last riffs of their opening song, an eerie laughter followed by claps and a catchy bass line dominated the venue — it was the time to sink “Deeper Deeper” into the enchanting world powered by ONE OK ROCK. Flawlessly shifting from his normal register to the high-pitched screams against the punchy background music, Taka fleshed out the words in lyrics and captivated their hardcore fans and newcomers alike. At the same time, iridescent beams of light from the stage alternated and interweaved with each other, adding to the ravishing vibe which connected the crowd and the band as a whole. People pumped their fists in the air, jumping, stomping and dancing without reservation, in reaction to the superb performances exclusive to this night.
The set continued with several other masterpieces from the band’s portfolio. During the song “Be the Light”, it was very impressive to see so many hardcore fans, with the light from their lighters and cellphones’ screens, helped render the venue in a warm atmosphere that the band meant to create through the song. Throughout the set list, ONE OK ROCK never failed to keep their American audience amazed at how outstanding they were, not only in terms of making music, but also speaking English with a sense of humor. The band expressed how excited they were to launch the debut show in Los Angeles and how lucky they were to get connected with people from different countries through music. They tried their best to communicate with the audience in English and did not forget to add some amusing touch to the MC session – Tomoya said he wanted an American girlfriend and asked if there was any volunteer, which undoubtedly made another highlight of that night.
In the second half of the concert, ONE OK ROCK stirred up hysteria with the opening strains of songs like “Re:make”and “Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer”, catapulting everyone into the aural ecstasy that reverberated through every single corner of the venue. While performing these older songs, the band shared an incredibly giant cathartic experience together with the audience in perfect unison, which made it difficult to tell whether this was their very first show in Los Angeles.
Talented and energetic, ONE OK ROCK brought all the hopes and dreams to life with their fascinating music and performances. The American market has enough reasons to pay great attention to these promising young men, and ONE OK ROCK are definitely coming back to rock Los Angeles again as they promised.
1. Introduction〜Where idiot should go〜
2. Ending Story??
3. Deeper Deeper
4. Nothing Helps
6. Let’s Take It Someday
7. Jibun Rock
8. Clock Strikes
9. Be the Light
11. Answer Is Near
12. NO SCARED
14. Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer
15. The Beginning
EN. Wherever You Are
Photo Credit: LA WEEKLY Timothy Norris