In February, a long-time favourite Japanese rock band of mine, ONE OK ROCK, announced their nationwide tour of Japan. To my delight they were coming to Hiroshima City on the 30th and 31st of May. As soon as tickets became available I went with my partner in crime, Karin, to the nearest Lawson combini and bought our two standing tickets using the Loppi machine.
Finally the day arrived and what a day it was! Even though the concert was at a stadium all the way in Hiroshima City, we didn’t need to rush to get there early as concerts run differently here to that in South Africa. Choosing where you want to stand or sit is on a first come first service basis depending on when you buy the ticket. Each ticket is printed with a block number, like B4, and a general number, like 330. Our tickets said B4, 329 and 330. This meant that we would only be allowed into the venue when our block number was called. Therefore, we only needed to get to the stadium about an hour before the doors opened so that I had enough time to buy some band merchandise.
Before reaching the stadium we headed into the main shopping street area of Hiroshima City, Hondori, where we filled up on ‘energy’ in the form of good old fashioned hamburgers, and then stopped into the recently opened Jump Shop.
Once we were done in Hondori we made our way to the stadium along with fellow ONE OK ROCK fans, most of them wearing the band’s t-shirts and easily recognisable red sweat towels.
Even though the stadium was pretty packed, everyone seemed to keep to their own hoola-hoop space and never once did I feel claustrophobic. Again, I had this feeling of incredible politeness coming from everyone around me, and no one ever tried to push forward (a common occurrence in my concert-going experiences back home). One thing that made Karin and I chuckle was when the lights went out the whole stadium fell silent, waiting for the band to come on – this behaviour was really strange to us at first, but we soon got used to it because it happened a few times throughout the night.
Though I must say thank goodness we had bought the sweat towels – even before the opening band started we were already starting to sweat!
Anyway, the opening band was a Japanese Indi-Rock band, not that I recognised them – all I was interested in was the main event!
Eventually it was ONE OK ROCK’s turn to take the stage. And wow. They were amazing! They performed for almost 2 hours, all the while I was jumping, waving my arms about, screaming, singing, and clapping. It was the best concert I have ever been to in terms of quality, sound, atmosphere, everything! The laser lights were fantastic and at one point I honestly felt like I was watching a music video. It is a bit difficult to explain, but everything felt so perfect, so well-coordinated (even the crowd) and I was just so taken aback by it all.
Talking about the crowd, they were amazing as well as there was this sense of solidarity. We all waved our hands together in time to the beat, we jumped together, sang together, and even went deathly silent when the lead singer, Taka, sang a slow song with just a guitar. Normally, you would at least have a few people professing their love, or something along those lines, out loud to the singer/band while the stadium is so quiet. But not this time. Everyone was so quiet, and it gave us all a chance to enjoy the moment and give the singer the respect he deserves. It was breathtaking.
Apologies if this is coming over as overly sappy, but really, I believe it was the best rock concert I have ever been to.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures or videos during the concert, but I have attach a video from their concert in Yokohama below, which is pretty much spot on to what we experienced – including the balls of fire. 😉
By the end of the concert we, and everyone else, were absolutely drenched in sweat, and on our way out we were given free Red Bull drinks. I also made a bee-line to the nearest vending machine (no drinks allowed inside the venue) and downed a Coke – a most well-deserved Coke I believe. 😉
If you ever have a chance to see a Japanese rock or pop band in Japan then I highly recommend it, even from just a cultural perspective it can be different, though also so much fun and very memorable. 😀