ONE OK ROCK Weekend Part 1: Hello Singapore!
The time: 7:15 AM (yes, morning). The place: Hard Rock Hotel in Sentosa. I took my place at the end of a still short queue and braced myself for the monumental wait ahead. The live was still 13 hours away. The people in front of me arrived 3AM, some even 6PM the day before. Ah the things we do for love.
Fortunately, Tsu and Sharon arrived a few minutes later. We passed the time talking about random stuff and people watching. But the hours moved…ever….so….slowwwwwwwly. The temperature was climbing too: from a tolerable 29°C to a sweltering 32°C. There were even moments wherein we felt there was no air circulating.
Around noon time, more and more people had arrived. The line was already snaking around the waiting area. People are getting more restless too as coupled with the heat, there was lesser space to move. We were all sweating like pigs.
Soundcheck began and we were treated to the voice of someone who must have had discovered the microphone for the first time. I had no idea checking the microphones would be such an arduous task. He was making these strange noises as if calling out to the fishes at the nearby marina (think Finding Nemo). He kept at it for hours! The guitars were tuned, then the drums. Then he was at it again! Around 4PM though, we heard the unmistakable voice of Taka. The band was rehearsing “Be The Light” and we could hear it very clearly. That lifted everyone’s spirit up. I saw smiles albeit weary ones.
The Singaporean ST passed around a banner and a notebook for everyone to sign on. A photographer from LAMC productions asked around for anyone who wants to have their picture taken. Familiars faces popped up. I saw Jac again and met the L’Arc~en~Ciel Singaporean Street Team. Someone opened a purple L’Arc~en~Ciel umbrella as a girl toting a VAMPS bag passed by. Marshals kept the line intact as tourists wondered what’s with this mass of sweaty individuals, mostly wearing black with skulls on it, were up to.
At 5PM (?), the goods kiosks finally opened. The skull wearing people were now joined by more skull wearing people and even those wearing a druid design. I got myself another shirt (skulls!) and after a moment’s hesitation, a copy of OOR’s latest album. Sharon got a skulls shirt too. It’s amusing because earlier on we were both decided on getting the druid version.
And then we waited some more.
7PM came and HOLY SHIT, THIS IS IT. We were finally ushered into the venue. We ran ahead and landed at this spot: 3rd row, between Taka and Toru’s positions. In other words: PERFECTION.
We still have an hour to go before the boys get onstage but that’s nothing considering how long we had already been waiting. What got me worried though was that even though the venue was open air, there was lack of air! There was little room to move and everyone’s sweat was mingling with someone else’s. Thankfully, the production people gave us cups of water to pass around and they kept this up all throughout the live.
A few minutes more til 8PM and final soundchecks were made. The guy tuning Toru’s guitar was really good. And he even checked the drums! Made us wonder though if he was also the one “toying” with the mike earlier. I didn’t wonder long because my heart just skipped a beat. All the lights went out. The crew shuffled out of the stage. The live was about to begin.
At approximately 10 minutes past 8PM, ONE OK ROCK hit the Singapore stage with a stirring performance of Ending Story?? It was stirring because by the time they reached the chorus, the audience had become a whirlpool. Toru hovered over me, just 10 feet away but I couldn’t concentrate because I was worried of being crushed. I’m not entirely sure how it happened but the crowd started swerving from left to right. I literally toppled over the people right next to me only to be pushed back towards the other direction. This went on for quite a while and it was actually very frightening.
Deeper Deeper followed and the girl in front of me signaled that she felt faint. The people around her including me waved frantically to the crew to get her out. One of the big burly bouncers lifted her to safety. Later on, about 2-3 more people were carried out in the same fashion.
The human whirlpool settled down a bit as the band segued to Nothing Helps. Then they sang C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h. and the swaying was reduced to the hands only. I was finally able to gawk at Toru and Taka. Ryota’s abs and the rest of him occasionally ventured to our side too. They were so close! They’ve also gotten bajillion times hotter since the last time I saw them.
Much like last year, Taka asked everyone squat down as an intro to Let’s take it someday. He had to repeat the request several times before the crowd exhibited a semblance of compliance. Taka, you have to understand. There was no space for us to move. We did do our best though to jump.
It all literally became a blur to me after that. Literally and figuratively. My glasses had fogged up and I was so afraid to remove them knowing that if my clammy hands dropped them, they would turn to dust in a hearbeat. (Note to self: get contacts for succeeding lives).
As for the band itself, they were flawless. Their energy was bountiful and their showmanship was superb. Perfect form all throughout. I must also give special mention to Taka’s voice. It has gotten steadier and it’s amazing how he can sustain it as he growled and reached long notes. The emotions he poured into each song was very tangible. At one point, (can’t remember if it was during C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h. or Be The Light), he achingly sang the final notes of the song as he crouched down to the floor. He remained in fetal position for quite a while, as if in anguish. Then he walked off to the side of the stage and wiped his face with a fluffy white towel. It was mesmerizing.
Their performance of Be The Light was especially poignant for me. Toru shifted to an acoustic guitar and he silenced the rowdy crowd with just the initial chords. As we all know, this song was in memory of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. As OOR performed the song, I thought of my country, the Philippines, and prayed that just like what the song says, our nation, especially the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, would find the strength in our hearts to start anew and “keep it up and not give up, with out heads held high“.
The band followed it up with LIAR and boy, what a complete turn around in emotions. As Tsu empathically said, “NERISSA, IT’S YOUR SONG!” Indeed, it was and I sang it with full vigor.
Taka made another request prior to Answer is Near. He asked us to do the WOHOHO a few times with a few variations. These guys surely know how to keep the crowd hyper. Sometime before or after this segment, the boys did their MCs. Basically, their MCs were different ways of saying that the Singapore crowd was FUCKING AWESOME! Impressively, their English had improved a lot. It also seemed that they were not reading off as script just like last year. Ah but Tomoya stole the show when he introduced himself. I don’t know why but he was wearing a nose clip which was probably why when he introduced himself, he had a really strangely cute voice, almost like a toddler who knows how to get his way. If only someone was able to clearly record his “Hello, I am Tomoya”, I would make it my message alert tone immediately.
Toru and Ryota had their moments too. No, make that TORU AND RYOTA HAD A MOMENT. It bugs me that I cannot remember for which song it was for but the two of them had a guitar duel of sorts. Toru ran to Ryota’s side and they exchanged a few rifts, face to face. Ryota would surge forward and Toru would meet him head on. And then…and then they touched their foreheads. Or at least it seemed that way. They continued with their duel, faces just inches apart. Elsewhere in the venue, fanfics were being hatched and fan arts were being scheduled.
A few more electrifying performances later, Taka took to the mike and said, “In Japanese, ok?” He then went into a lengthy spiel which mentioned “kokoro” a lot. Forgive me, that’s the only word I understood. He ended it in English: “This is our last song: The Beginning”. It was no question that OOR’s fanbase really swelled after they were given the opportunity to record Rurouni Kenshin’s theme. The Beginning had endeared them to a wider audience hence when Taka introduced it, the crowd erupted even more. We were in unison as we sang our hearts out, even as the band members exited the stage.
They came back moments later to finally close the show with a gut-wrenching performance of Wherever You Are. What a beautiful moment and what a fantastic show!
AND THEN THIS HAPPENED
All throughout the show, I was carrying the banner brought over by Michelle and Mariz featuring the messages from Philippine fans. I raised it up whenever a band member leaned over, long enough for him to see what it says but still in consideration of the people behind me. As the live wounded down, the Singaporean ST gave their banners to the band. They were just in front of me so I asked if they can give the Philippine banner as well. I forwarded it to a girl who then promptly threw it to the stage. Ryota saw what happened and he laughed. He then went over to pick up the banner and scanned the contents. I only learned later that while this was happening, Taka caught a red thong as it was thrown to the stage. I didn’t witness any of that as my eyes were transfixed to Ryota as he was holding our banner. He showed it to Tomoya and then both of them raised it over their heads. There on the stage, Ryota and Tomoya were brandishing a banner saying “We want ONE OK ROCK in the Philippines” with all our messages written around it. Taka then asked them what they were holding and Ryota said “Philippines”. Probably realizing that it should have said Singapore, Ryota and Tomoya sheepishly brought down the banner. But that’s fine. All is fine with the world. ONE OK ROCK has our banner. Mission accomplished.
My hair was matted to my face and my shirt was drenched not only with my own sweat but also of the people around me. My legs were like jelly and my whole body felt as if it had run a marathon. I looked like a mess but instead I was gleaming. The grueling waiting period, the brush with heatstroke and being caught in a human whirlpool were all worth it. ONE OK ROCK was worth it.
And yes, I would do it all over again. In a few hours from the time of this writing actually. ONE OK ROCK Weekend Part 2: Welcome to Jakarta is happening later today and I really should be sleeping right now.
A few more random observations before I hit the sack:
- The band members bow to the audience after almost every song. Wow.
- Taka remained looking pristine as we all sweat like pigs, even his co-members. He looked so radiant and fresh all throughout the live it was so unfair. Must be because he was wearing a loose shirt with the sleeves cut off? But Ryota was half naked and he was all sweaty too. And then there was Toru, darling Toru. He was wearing a black V neck shirt which clung to his torso as he was very sweaty. So sweaty in fact that crew members had to wipe his sweat off the floor sometimes. Haha. I don’t know about Tomoya but he looked comfy on his throne.
- There was no hoodie on sale despite being listed as official goods. Then again, considering how hot and humid that day was, selling a hoodie was ludicrous.
- I wasn’t able to see them before or after the live like last year 😦 Too dead tired to conspire with the universe. Perhaps in Jakarta? 😛
Finally, the setlist courtesy of @ONEOKROCK_SG:
- Intro: Where idiot should go-
- Ending Story??
- Deeper Deeper
- Nothing Helps
- Let’s take it someday
- Jibun ROCK
- Clock Strikes
- Be the light
- Answer Is Near
- NO SCARED
- Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer
- The Beginning
- Encore: Wherever you are