Terminal 5 is close enough to the piers that you can feel the icy January breeze slicing a line right between sea and sky, making it a warm, dark fortress for midtown-Manhattan in the wintertime. Even so, it wasn’t a weather-dodging crowd that poured inside for last night’s sold-out show, but a focused, fervent fanbase – one that had clearly been counting down the days until they could get their piece of One Ok Rock’s short-and-sweet North American tour. The excitement was especially high yesterday, just days after the release of their generous eighth studio album, Ambitions, which hit shelves on Friday.
The Tokyo-based four-piece, a modern rock band who are in fact billed as ‘emo’ in some bios, wowed with a sound that was much more sundry and approachable than the term may suggest – certainly not as locked into the post-hardcore or emo-punk molds that can feel more rigidly one-note across the U.S. scene. One Ok Rock, who have been building a cult-like following since forming in ‘05, seem to operate far outside of that bubble. Proof positive: last night’s supercharged setlist, which showed off a wide range of sensibilities – whether it was a flash of glammed-up, shreddy arena rock (“Taking Off”), a moment of pure-emo screaming (“Take Me to the Top”), or a taste of their pensive, orchestral songwriting (“Hard to Love”).
The energetic set was powered by lead vocalist Takahiro “Taka” Moriuchi, guitarist Toru Yamashita, drummer Tomoya Kanki, and bassist Ryota Kohama – who also switched to guitar and even swapped a pick for a bow to simulate strings during “Hard to Love.” “Are you guys fucking ready?” Taka demanded between lyrics as they smashed “The Beginning,” bringing in screams at all angles from their dedicated fans.
It was visibly a night to remember for the crowd, who watched in jaw-dropped awe as the guys tore up the NYC stage and jumped into thin air, mid-solo, at astonishing heights. One Ok Rock’s combined impacts were the perfect recipe for a thrilling performance; equal parts wailing, tongue-out guitar solos, big splashy cymbal hits, and bold, soaring vocals that were satisfyingly unpredictable. They dressed like rockstars, and they performed like rockstars, but there was no telling exactly what chord they would strike from song to song. And that makes for a damn good show.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley