When ONE OK ROCK last took the stage in New York City, it was February 2014 and in the middle of a snowstorm. On October 3rd, 2015, a hurricane was headed for NYC. Thankfully, the weather held out – yet despite the threat of storms, ONE OK ROCK once again sold out PlayStation Theater in Times Square. (Formerly known as Best Buy Theater.)
Fans began lining up in the early hours of the morning to try and get up front to see this band. In this day and age, it feels rare to see sold out Japanese rock acts in the States, so having ONE OK ROCK sell out feels good and gives some glimmer of hope to the Jrock scene overseas.
The band was late coming on stage due to the sheer volume of people that needed to get into the venue before they began, since there was no opening act. The audience was getting antsy and ended up singing along to the house music, including an impressive group karaoke to Hoobastank’s “The Reason” and Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive,” after which the audience cheered for itself.
As the band finally walked out on stage, the fans surged forward and the screaming cheers began. The intro music of 3xxxv5 played as the members began walking out on stage – drummer Tomoya, followed by bassist Ryota and guitarist Toru. Last but not least was vocalist Taka.
The music quickly morphed into the fast, upbeat song “Take Me To The Top”, with vocalist Taka jumping around the stage. “How are you guys tonight? Are you ready to get crazy?” Taka asked at the end of the first song before immediately launching into the next, “Memories”. He would spin his whole body around the stage, like a marionette controlled by the force of the music.
“It’s been a long time New York! We are ONE OK ROCK!” Taka said, as if anybody could have mistaken whom they were seeing. “Are you ready guys? Raise your hands in the air! Show me your hands! From this side, and that side! Clap your hands!” Taka gave his MC’s throughout the night exclusively in English.
The entire show was very interactive between the band and the crowd. The members would constantly move back and forth, especially Taka. He made use of the wide stage, being sure to reach both sides. Taka would often hold out his microphone, prompting the audience to sing the lyrics to him, as in the chorus of “Clock Strikes”. The crowd was happy to sing along.
The venue was packed, from the front of the stage all the way to the seats in the back. It was nearly impossibly to move on the ground floor during the performance and the heat was intense compared to the cool, rainy, October weather outside. You could literally feel the heat of all the bodies dancing and jumping around going crazy for ONE OK ROCK.
The fans sang along wonderfully to “Cry Out”, the lyrics going “shout it out now!” and the crowd shouting those lyrics. “Sing it!” Taka yelled, as everyone sang together for the chorus of “oh oh oh’s” while clapping together.
“It’s good to be back here, New York. The next song we’re going to play is a kinda slow song and it’s all in Japanese. If you know the words, please sing along with me. In Japanese. Thank you. This is Heartache.”
The crowd calmed down for this slow song, as Taka stood still at the microphone, playing an acoustic guitar. He let the audience sing the chorus completely on their own, and even in Japanese, this New York crowd did not disappoint. A collection of voices could be heard and it was beautiful. Taka stepped away from the microphone and shouted, “You guys are f**kin’ great!” This song was a nice slow down from the fast pace of the previous songs.
The energy was quickly riled up again. When the opening chords of the next song began to play, and it was piano music, people were unsure at first what this was… “Thank you so much,” Taka said. It quickly became clear what the song was, “Just give me a reason…” – it was “The Beginning”. People gave the loudest cheers and screams of the night, surging forward towards the stage, this song being an easy fan favorite. “The Beginning” was used in the Ruroni Kenshin live action movie but is simply well known among ONE OK ROCK fans.
Everyone was going even crazier then they had been previously, and Taka only riled up fans further by leaping off the stage and onto the barrier, close to fans. He held onto a few hands as he sang and the audience sang back to him. The very last line, he held out the microphone and let the crowd sing for him, everyone effortlessly knowing the words.
The last song of the evening was “Mighty Long Fall” which had the whole floor jumping when Taka asked them to. The song was over too soon and the set felt like it went by too quickly, the lights dimming and the band walking off stage. The audience immediately began cheers of “One more song!” and they didn’t have to wait long at all, ONE OK ROCK promptly returning!
For the first encore song, “Wherever You Are,” Taka sat down on the stage. The band initiated clapping, the crowd following. The vocals were passionate for this slow, touching song. Everyone listened closely as he sang, not wanting to break the trance. The fans sang along and at the end, Taka once again holding out his microphone and letting everybody sing the words they knew so well.
“Do you want to hear a couple more songs? Raise your hands if you know our new song, Paper Planes!” The audience jammed along to this song, which sounds different from ONE OK ROCK’s other songs, but everyone seemed to get right into it! Taka asked everyone to sing back to him chants of, “Na na na na!”
From start to finish, the entire band and everyone in the venue gave their 110% into this performance. The band was very interactive with the crowd, and the crowd responded accordingly. ONE OK ROCK is truly a great live band. Their live performances are out of this world; even if you aren’t familiar with their music, they are very easy to get into and rock out to!
ONE OK ROCK is currently touring across North America supporting All Time Low and Sleeping with Sirens on tour. Be sure to check them out!
Take Me To The Top
Stuck In The Middle
Mighty Long Fall
Wherever You Are