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LIVE REPORT: ONE OK ROCK “Who are you?? Who are we??” Tour Live in Jakarta (November 24, 2013)

ONE OK ROCK Weekend Part 2: Welcome to Jakarta!

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THE GOOD

The boys killed it again!

ONE OK ROCK made their Indonesian debut via an intense live jam-packed with gripping moments belying the fact that this is actually their 11th stop in a whirlwind tour spanning 2 continents. I myself have barely recovered from the physically straining Singapore live but Boss Toru and the gang hardly showed signs of fatigue, running across the stage and headbanging like crazy.

The setlist is similar to that of Singapore’s but as artists feed off the response of their audience, Indonesians gifted OOR with a reception that was equally stunning as the band’s performance thus giving this particular live its own special blend of awesomeness. OORJKT had a more give and take between performer and audience.

I didn’t make it to front row this time (more on this later) but I was able to see the whole stage and it has allowed me to really appreciate ONE OK ROCK’s production in totality. For instance, I didn’t mind it before, but the stage lighting for was really good. Like during the first verse of Be the Light, soft beams of white light bathed Taka from all directions before giving way to a cacophony of yellow and blue as the song builds it dramatic tension. The lighting turned helter skelter during the really hard-hitting songs like Deeper Deeper and NO SCARED which complimented very well how the boys turned the stage into their very own playground. And watching these boys play was really a sight to behold.

I was in awe with how well coordinated their movements were. It was not as if they seemed rehearsed with proper timing and all that. The band was well coordinated in a way that there was no instance of a single member stealing the show for himself. Taka was of course front and center but from where I was, it was absolutely stunning how Toru, Tomoya and Ryota held their own. Each had their quirks: Taka liked raising both his arms wide open (his wingspan was impressive); Ryota (who’s hair was tied back for most parts of the show) tend to keep his feet far apart and when he’s really into it, appeared like he’s doing the split while pounding on his bass; Toru (who was wearing a sleeveless top) got twitchy sometimes and Tomoya banged on his drums with that adorably goofy expression of his. Seen together, their antics seemed like a response to the action of another band member. And their headbanging was in sync! It was amazing! At one point, they banged their heads in perfect unison continuously, Ryota and Toru at equal distance from Taka at the center who seemed to be directing the whole ensemble with his left arm. Ryota and Toru had each of their feet far apart, their bottoms at a very low angle and as Taka waved his left arm back and forth, their heads would follow. It was as if all three of them were jackhammering the floor. I wonder how they deal with neck and back aches because mine certainly needs tending.

The band spoke Bahasa during their MCs but Taka used English during his spiels in between songs. Ryota told everyone he liked nasi goreng and even sang a few lines from what I would later learn to be the Indonesian national anthem. Tomoya exclaimed his love for bakmi while Toru urged the crowd to go crazy. Taka made the same requests: lie low then jump for Let’s Take It Someday and for us to sing WOHOHO to Answer is Near. There was a variation though. After a few rounds of WOHOHO, Taka shifted to TARARARA which is actually pretty amusing.

With each request, the crowd responded in full vigor. Indonesian fans, hands down, are so awe-inspiring. Their response to L’Arc~en~Ciel’s live during #LarukuJKT was very overwhelming and the Indonesian live of MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM was the stuff of legends. In OOR’s live, they delivered the same passion. Hands never left the air, always swaying if not clapping hard. From the first song to the encore, the crowd sang their hearts out. Immediately after the band left the stage after The Beginning, chants of “WE WANT MORE” pierced the air and continued for some time. And then the shouts shifted to “ANKORU, ANKORU!”. Just like in Singapore, WOHOHO was also heard. ONE OK ROCK then rewarded these by coming back with Taka holding the Indonesian flag! He waved it all around before draping it on his back. Earlier he said, “Jakarta, we will definitely come back” (*squeal*) and he reiterated it with more conviction this time around. He then placed the Indonesian flag in front of Tomoya’s drums before launching into a goosebump inducing rendition of WHEREVER YOU ARE. What made it so? The audience. Good Lord, that was awesome. The crowd sang in unison, their voices ringing loud and clear that it almost drowned out Taka’s. And it did not waver, down to the final “Wherever You Are ..”. Someone upload an official video of this quick.

Taka concluded WHEREVER YOU ARE by facing Tomaya and placing his left foot over the drums. He held this pose with both arms extended wide as the other 3 finished off the song. And then all of them went to center of the stage to bow at the audience signaling that the live was really over. With that, my ONE OK ROCK weekend also reached its finale.

THE BAD

I am really, REALLY pissed off with how the organizers handled crowd control during entrance to the venue. It was sloppy, amateurish and overall, a direct F*** YOU to the concept of lining up.

Squeezing into the train during rush hour was a more blissful experience compared to getting inside Lapangan Parkir Renang Senayan where the OORJKT live was held. To think I actually enjoyed waiting despite the shifts in weather because excitement was in the air all throughout. It just so happened that shit hit the fan when the gates finally opened.

As I was still very sore due to Singapore’s epic moshing and stayed up all night writing the live report, I arrived 11:30AM at the venue, rather late in comparison to my 7:15AM arrival at Hard Rock Cafe in Sentosa. I was already very content with the spot I got in SG so I wouldn’t mind being a bit far from the stage this time.

As expected, many people were already ahead of me. Quite a number were just loitering around while many were slopped down in front of the entrance. I took my place at the end of the “line” and ate my brunch.

It rained after a while and still no one budged.

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More and more people started arriving as the hours dripped by. Krystle and her friends arrived after lunch and by that time, an impenetrable wall of people were surrounding me so they couldn’t come over to where I was.

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But the wait was really enjoyable. I amused myself gawking at the OOR-inspired garb almost everyone was wearing, from shirts to caps to pins to bandannas. I just hoped the band’s management didn’t mind all these unofficial stuff going around so much. I also chatted with a few other fans stuck with me.

I was particularly impressed with the ONE OK ROCK Bandung group. They were everywhere and all of them proudly wore something that screamed ONE OK ROCK Bandung. They even led us into singing OOR songs. During the live itself, they had a giant banner facing the band.

Later on, I had no choice but to get out of the formation as I really need to pee. Fortunately, I was located near the direction towards the toilet so I was able so squeeze my way out. Even more fortunate, the band started rehearsing and the toilet’s entrance offered a good view of the stage! Thanks to my height, I saw Ryota and Tomoya without needing to climb fences.

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I then went back in “line” and enjoyed listening to the rest of rehearsals. Amazingly, the band rehearsed many songs, even finishing some of them. The crowd sang along and erupted into cheers each time a song finished.

The weather turned hot (but not as terrible as the weather was in Singapore). Still, it was a bit uncomfortable. The collective sigh from everyone could actually be heard loud each time a breeze was felt.

By 5PM, everyone was on their feet. There wasn’t any space to sit down anyway. People started chanting “OPEN GATE! OPEN GATE!” The number of people has since swelled and the those in front of me had somehow tripled (WTF).

5:30PM the gate finally opened and mismanagement reigned. The moment the gate was opened, people from all directions made a beeline towards it, including those who were just loitering at the sides. Those who were in front of the supposed “line” were lucky because they were able to avoid the pandemonium (I hope). But for those who were originally just 10 rows away from the gate, we had to battle it out with people who just came out from nowhere. There was no line. Just a huge mass of people aiming to pass thru a narrow gap in the steel railings. When I finally got close enough to the “gate” 30 freaking minutes later, I saw that the guards were basically just dragging people in. And then they opened 2 more openings on either sides thus allowing those who skipped through the original “line” to go ahead.

There was also no proper waste disposal so not only was there moshing already at the entrance, there were shit tons of discarded water bottles too.

Inside the bag checking area, there was finally a semblance of control, i.e. hello line. I looked back at the railing and was glad to finally escape this:

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I skipped the photo wall and was greeted by…. vast amount of space.

Inside, there were food stalls and portable toilets which was located far away from the stage. It was really thoughtful of the organizers to put these amenities up so people can hang around here as they waited for the band to show up. Then again, who am I kidding???? It would have been better if these kiosks were placed outside so people can enjoy them while waiting. I was desperate for food earlier and there wasn’t much options outside. Why can’t these be outside?

And then another major pet peeve. THE GOODS KIOSK WAS ALSO INSIDE THE VENUE. Viewers then were given the option of: buy goods upon entering and risk finding a good spot or find a good spot now and risk having your chosen good sold out. Someone from Manila requested that I buy goods for her so I lined up. I also wanted to get a hoodie and as it was not available in SG, I took my chances here.

This was the view from my spot at the line at the goods. Note how the space in front of the stage was already filled up.  There was no hoodie available as well. The lady there explained that it already sold out during the earlier lives.

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By the time I reached the stage area, I had this view:

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Pissed off, thirsty and in need of fresh air, I gave up my spot and retreated way back to clear my head. I was in a foul mood and ready to punch just about anyone so I had to get away. I found a good space behind the control booth which allowed me to see the whole stage and observe the audience as well so I just stayed there for the duration of the live.

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It turned out to be a good decision in the end because there was plenty of space for me to jump. Besides, I had the pleasure of being near two of the most unlikely concert goers: an elderly Japanese guy who danced his way to every song (he was really, really enthusiastic I found myself just watching him sometimes) and a 9 month old baby in the arms of her dad. It was obvious her mom was the bigger fan as she had her eyes glued to the stage. But seriously, while I believe in early exposure to the good stuff, this baby clearly needed to be sleeping at home and that giant ear mufflers her parents placed on her head were useless.

Another major gripe I have about the event was the sound system. It was a bit terrible. From where I was, Taka’s mic sounded so loud that it drowned out the instruments. Hence, I could hear every intake of breath he did. When Toru did his guitar solo, it was obvious that the system could use some clearing up as the sound was cracked. It did sounded that Toru missed a note but it could also be the speaker cracking up.

Finally, there was this and Jakarta actually got it right: as I was double-checking the items I bought before coming home, I noticed something different from the shirt I just bought to the one I am wearing which I got in Singapore.

Nevermind the difference in color as that’s just the lighting. The one on the right was the shirt I bought during the Singapore live, the one on the left was freshly bought in Jakarta. The Singapore shirt has a tag of the shirt brand (GILDAN) and said “Made in Bangladesh”. The Jakarta shirt doesn’t have a tag but has this printed inside: the band’s logo, tour name and the words OFFICIAL MERCHANDISE.

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To be clear, I am not insinuating that either of these shirts is unofficial. It’s just that I find it odd that this difference existed. Both shirts seemed to me to be of the same quality, appearance-wise. Wash and wear would eventually determine if there is indeed any disparity in quality. Truth be told, I would have preferred it if the Singapore shirt was more like the Jakarta shirt. And of course, if only the hoodie was available in all countries!

Now, with all that out of the way, I officially close my ONE OK ROCK weekend. Thank you to ONE OK ROCK and to all of those I’ve experienced this amazing cross-country adventure with.

Next tour, I’ll watch them in Japan for sure. Until then, time to get ready for VAMPS this coming Friday.

LIVE REPORT: ONE OK ROCK “Who are you?? Who are we??” Tour Live in Singapore (November 22, 2013)

ONE OK ROCK Weekend Part 1: Hello Singapore!

THE BEGINNING

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.

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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.

THE LIVE

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.

THE AFTERMATH

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:

  1. Intro: Where idiot should go-
  2. Ending Story??
  3. Deeper Deeper
  4. Nothing Helps
  5. C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h.
  6. Let’s take it someday
  7. Jibun ROCK
  8. Clock Strikes
  9. Be the light
  10. Liar
  11. Answer Is Near
  12. NO SCARED
  13. Re:make
  14. Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer
  15. The Beginning
  16. Encore: Wherever you are
top photo grabbed from LAMC Production's Instagram
top photo grabbed from LAMC Production’s Instagram

LIVE REPORT: ONE OK ROCK Start Walking the World Tour Live in Singapore (June 30, 2012)

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:

  1. CODA
  2. LOST AND FOUND
  3. Never Let This Go
  4. 皆無
  5. Re:make
  6. 世間知らずの宇宙飛行士
  7. アンサイズニア
  8. Mr.現代Speaker
  9. Liar
  10. Wherever you are
  11. C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h.
  12. Let’s take it someday
  13. NO SCARED
  14. 恋ノアイボウ心ノクピド
  15. 完全感覚Dreamer

encore

  1. じぶんROCK
  2. 内秘心書

(source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/one-ok-rock?before=1341078704 and http://untestsubject.tumblr.com/post/26225400853)

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.