Either it was really fate or we were just really BLESSED (yes, the L’Arc fan in me just cannot resist making those song references XD)
Sat and I arrived at the*SCAPE in Singapore gawking at the VIP line and wondering where the heck the line for the poor souls at GA went off to. We visited the venue the day before so we knew that the GA line should be just opposite that of the VIP’s. After loitering at the merchandise booth where surprisingly there was no line at all, we finally got the sense to ask where we should line up. Turned out all we had to do was walk a few steps from where we were already standing. Toinks. Good thing for us, the line at GA was not yet very long. We settled then to our spot and braced ourselves for the 4 hours to go before gates open.
Waiting didn’t turned out to be an exercise on patience. There was a threat of rain earlier (hence why the GA line was transferred) but it gave way to conducive weather. We passed the time trading stories and contemplating on which merchandise shirt to buy. Also briefly talked to a guy who said he travelled from Malaysia and that he has been an OOR fan for more than 3 years. Now that got me a bit worried. To be honest, I’ve only been listening to the band for less than 2 months and have yet to own an album of theirs. Grooveshark and YouTube were my supportive friends during my getting to know you stage with ONE OK ROCK. They made me familiar with a number of songs but the tracks which I can sing along to were barely a handful. Ok, so just maybe one and it’s the song which really drew me into the band: Liar.
Crew from AFA (or was it J-Live?) came over and filmed us. Twice. The instructions were pretty simple: just act excited. No acting needed for that, mister. We really were excited, giddy even! After that, we finally came face to face with Yaone whom we knew online. She came with good tidings: KOI milk tea and my L’Arc poster from their live 2 months prior. Time then went even faster. Sat drew anime version of us and we traded stories even more. Next thing we knew, staff was already telling us to stand up and get ready.
Getting inside the venue was such a breeze. Kudos to J-Live for being so organized. They let in people by batches, VIPs first (of course) and then us at GA a few persons at a time. Right on the dot, almost everyone was inside Warehouse. The live was sold out but crowd was hardly stifling. Ours was a good spot, just 3 lines from the barricades separating GA from VIP and right between the places of the vocalist and guitarist. In other words, good view of Taka and Toru. Score!
Another plus points for everyone: the live started promptly at 7pm. The stage lights erupted with blinding brilliance but our eyes couldn’t get any wider as the boys appeared on stage. Now you have been warned earlier that I am not familiar with all their songs so I won’t be able to describe each performance in detail. No official setlist had been released as of this writing but according to my two sources, it should be more or less like this:
- LOST AND FOUND
- Never Let This Go
- Wherever you are
- Let’s take it someday
- NO SCARED
The energy of the live was so unbelievable! And it was mutual. Both band and audience fed off the exuberance of the other. There was earnestness in ONE OK ROCK’s performance that we the audience couldn’t help but be drawn to it. The moment the first note was played, our eyes and ears were totally theirs. Arms were outstretched and palms and fists were reaching out into the stage as if it was the very cradle of existence.
Taka was one hell of a vocalist. Imagine a hyperactive kid who had yet another sugar overdose and who happened to be really, really good at singing and you have Taka. He was bouncing around the stage, head-banging, arms flailing all the while seemingly never missing a note. We couldn’t see Tomoya at all but our ears told us that he was banging those drums with full vigor. Ryota and Toru, on the other hand, made a smashing pair. The two of them headbanging with Taka was a sight to behold. Such energy! Such passion! Such talented good-looking boys (spazz)!
Their MCs were also amusing. Speaking in a mixture of Mandarin, Japanese and hell yeah English, they regaled us with their thoughts of Singapore. Taka’s English was really good and he moderated the flow of introductions very well. Ryota was wearing a USS shirt and in his MC he showered poetics on Singapore and even sings a bit a Mandarin song. Tomoya was next and he didn’t even made an effort to conceal that he was reading off a script! He was so nervous it was adorable. Last but not the least was Toru and his was the most engaging. He spoke about being sad for not being able to see the Merlion as it was under construction. But he, as the other members professed too, was really happy to play for the Singapore audience.
In the middle of the set, a familiar tune was strummed and I was instantly livid. Holy shit, it’s Liar! Finally, a song I can sing along to in its entirety!!! And sing I did and even more. Call me biased but the stage lighting was even much better for this performance. Every time the chorus hit, the stage would be bathe in red light and then it would explode like a celestial collision. After that, ONE OK ROCK took us back to earth with a gut-wrenching rendition of Wherever you are. It was very poignant and Taka allowed the audience to sing bits of the songs. To L’Arc fans, this should be the OOR equivalent of MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM. It was that emotional, at least for me. And then while we were still reeling, Taka asked someone from the audience to translate his MC. The next song, he said, was written for a good friend and as he saw everyone there as his friends, the song now was for all of us. I could have sworn I hear sniffles. That could have been me stifling a sob. The song? C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h. Our minds? Totally blown.
At one point during the live and I forgot for which song, Taka made us go “Eh?!” by asking everyone to sit down. There were a lot of uncoordinated movement and losing balance but Taka was firm “I want you to sit down…. and then jump!” I wasn’t even sure now if our feet landed back on the floor after that. Everyone was so high, literally and figuratively. And Ryota was no longer wearing a shirt! Boom.
Taka then announced that they were down to their last song. We were naturally reluctant to let them go. As we wait for the encore, some started singing WO-OHH-OHH from アンサイズニア which Taka made us repeat over and over again when they performed the song earlier. The band then came back, Ryota still shirtless and the rest still sigh, fully clothed. Taka did change though to the Singapore exclusive tour shirt. They played two more songs and then it was over.
Getting out of the venue was also very organized. We went to the merchandise booth to buy a shirt and then ran outside to catch a glimpse of the band as they leave the venue. It was a wait peppered with excitement and false starts. A number of times, we thought it was already the band coming out but it was only a staff member. One security basked in the spotlight and pretended to part of the band. He was hamming it up for the cameras and made us all laugh. Not for long though for as soon as the band came out, it was every wannabe paparazzi for his or herself.
Tired and hungry, Sat, Yaone and I scampered over to Somerset to look for a place to eat. We settled for Ramen Play and ate our ramen in peace, each lost in our own thoughts and probably replaying the live in our heads. Sat was determined to have a taste of Singapore Sling that night so we decided to go to Marina Bay Sands next. But before we left, I got a message from my close friend Berto that he can finally meet with me tonight (he stood me up the other night) so we waited for him. When we told him we want to drink Singapore Sling, he recommended that we go to Raffles Hotel instead as it was there where the famous cocktail was born.
The four of us stayed at Raffles Hotel until they kicked us out because they had to close already. Sat was finally united with hyde’s nemesis, the Singapore Sling while Berto and Yaone told us stories of their stay in Singapore. The discussion afterwards went from personal to profound. The other patrons left one by one and the reggae band has packed up but we were still in deep conversation. Finally, the waiter just politely asked us to leave. Since Chijmes was just around the corner, we decided to just transferred there. BEST. DECISION. EVER.
We walked around Chijmes admiring the whole courtyard. We took Polaroid shots that didn’t even captured the view and there were a lot of teasing. While looking for a place to stay, Yaone suddenly drew us aside and said “It’s ONE OK ROCK!” I turned around and true enough, the big party at the next table included the band. I couldn’t suppress a shout and their staff members casted a bewildered look at us. We then casually strolled to the next table and acted natural. Berto and Sat took off to order us beer. Yaone and I did our best not to stare. Toru was in my line of sight and I was milking the opportunity for all it’s worth. For some reason, Berto and Sat were taking too long. Yaone and I were actually contemplating approaching the band but in the end we decided not to intrude their privacy. We just contented ourselves throwing sly glances their way.
Finally, our beer arrived. At the corner of my eye, I saw Taka leave their table. I didn’t know what pushed me to say it but I grabbed Sat’s collar and whispered to him “You may want to go to the restroom.” Sat gave me a confused him look but I just widened my eyes at him and gestured to the restroom. Finally he complied. As he was entering the restroom, Taka came out. I was observing the whole episode as it unfolded. Awkward moment between them. Then Taka saw Sat was wearing the Singapore live shirt. He said Whoa! They were a bit far so I couldn’t hear a thing but Sat must have said that we were at the live. He pointed at our table then it was Taka pointing to our table. Next thing I knew Taka was walking towards us. I elbowed Yaone and kept repeating “holy shit!”. Taka was in front of me and he was extending his hand. I closed my jaw. Blinked a number of times. Finally gathered my wits. Took his hand and said “We just saw you live earlier. It was a great show!”. He said “Thank you” then walked to my side of the table. I told him I flew all the way from the Philippines to see them and that Sat was from Canada. Taka said, “Canada?” then he turned to their table, called the attention of this band mates and said “Canada!”
What happened next will be forever replayed in my head for all eternity. In slow motion.
All the members of ONE OK ROCK were suddenly at our table. I didn’t know where to look! It’s like they were everywhere all at once! Introductions were made. I was gushing. Sat was blushing. Yaone was tweeting! Berto was a pleased spectator. Taka asked me how old we are. It turned out he was about the same age as Sat. I told him I hope they will visit the Philippines someday. He said “Sure. We’ll do our best”. I countered that we’ll be ready. Next, I got lost in Toru’s eyes. Such nice facial features. He was very reserved but he can say nothing and I would still be contented. Meanwhile Ryota and Tomoya were the most enthusiastic. I told Ryota I liked his abs but it seemed he didn’t understand it. Tomoya said they were still learning English. I said it was ok. Then Ryota asked in Japanese if I understand the language. I replied that I know a little. He asked why. I said so I can understand your songs. He and Tomoya spazzed out. I was spazzing out too. I was able to converse in Japanese with ONE OK ROCK! There were a lot more handshaking after that. The boys introduced us to their bosses. One of them suggested that we take pictures. Yes, it was them who suggested we take pictures! Their manager, I believed, volunteered to take our picture. And then they all went back to their table.
Sat, Berto, Yaone and I exchange looks that said all of us were still processing if whether the last 10 minutes or so did happened. It must have been a while since we snapped out of our catatonic state. We filled up our mugs to the rim and made an extravagant toast. Cheers! The four of us talked some more. My phone was close to dying so unfortunately I couldn’t document the event in real time. Yaone said some of our online friends had already heard of our good fortune and that mentions of disbelief and congratulations were pouring in. Heck, ONE OK ROCK and their staff were at the next table and we still can’t believe that we actually talked to them. We downed our beer. Challenged each other on who can finish theirs first. Sat won. Boo. Then we exchanged banter again.
Around 3AM, the people at the next table turned to leave. Wonders of wonders, the band members returned to our table to say good-bye. What have we done to deserve such good karma? It was a huge effort not to hanaji right then and there. We exchanged a few words again. And then I asked if we can have their autograph. They complied. Taka was such a sweetheart as he was the one passing around our notebooks to the other members. There were more gushing until finally the promise to meet each other again, whether it will be in Singapore or in another country.
We waited until the whole band and their entourage left Chijmes and then collectively let out a LOUD scream! All the emotions we were holding back came out in full force. WE JUST TALKED TO AND SHOOK THE HANDS OF ONE OK ROCK!
I have the pictures and their autograph to prove it. But up to this day, I still can’t believe it has happened. I can pinch myself until it hurts just to prove even to myself that it was no dream. But then again, there is nothing left to bleed. My heart can’t take this anymore.
Until the next live.