When the sun went down on Saturday, Sept. 24, Atlanta welcomed One Ok Rock from all the way across the North Atlantic. The award-winning Japanese rock band stopped at the Tabernacle on their “Luxury Disease” tour, promoting their new album of the same name.
First debuting in 2007, the band grew in popularity exponentially amongst the younger generation in Japan, establishing themselves through a mix of emo and rock-based influences.
They took the country by storm, playing shows that attracted thousands of fans.
In 2014, the band played at Warped Tour, the largest touring music festival in North America from 1995 to 2019. The following year, One Ok Rock signed a worldwide distribution deal with Warner Bros. and began touring all over the world.
Their newest album — “Luxury Disease,” is their 10th album overall but only their fourth to be released in the United States. It was released on Sept. 9, 2022 — only two weeks before the Atlanta show.
Despite only being on the international scene for less than a decade, the sidewalks outside the Tabernacle in Atlanta saw massive lines hours before the venue doors opened. Many fans were wearing previous tour shirts or other general band merchandise and some groups had even flown into the state to be at the show. Just the wait in line was enough to show the fan base that One Ok Rock has garnered outside of their home country.
The show started with two opening acts: LA rock duo Loveless and English rock band You Me at Six. At almost 9:30 p.m., it was time for the headlining act.
Fog rolled over the stage and the crowd cheered in anticipation for One Ok Rock’s entrance. The energy was palpable. Three of the four members took to the stage, each adjusting their instruments in front of the waiting crowd. Several seconds later, lead singer Takahiro Moriuchi (professionally known as Taka) strolled out onstage, calmly positioning himself behind the microphone stand. The lights went dark and the band immediately launched into their first song, the new album’s opening track.
As the group performed, the vocalist quickly became a burst of energy, running and jumping up and down as he sang, playing off the crowd’s excitement with natural ease. A true showman, Taka has landed spots on Kerrang! magazine’s “50 Greatest Rockstars in the World” and Rock Sound magazine’s “50 Most Influential Figures in Rock”. Taka certainly lives up to those accreditations, his clear and powerful vocals never wavering despite his almost constant movement.
After the first three songs of the concert, Taka took the time to introduce the other band members. All four are professionally mononymous, preferring to be known by single-word names. As the singer spotlighted each instrumentalist, the men played small instrumental solos, giving the audience an even better look at the individual talent that makes up One Ok Rock. On the bass, Osaka-native Ryota; on the drums, Hyogo-native Tomoya; on guitars, Osaka-native Toru. Taka himself is from Tokyo.
Despite the members’ first language being Japanese, a lot of One Ok Rock’s songs include a substantial amount of English. In fact, the four albums that have been released in the United States (“35xxxv (Deluxe Edition),” “Ambitions,” “Eye of the Storm” and now “Luxury Disease”) are comprised of all English tracks, though each album has a Japanese-version counterpart.
The set list for their Atlanta show comprised a combination of songs from their new album and their older ones, nearly all of them sung in half-Japanese, half-English. For the crowd, getting to hear Taka singing in his native language only elevated the concert experience.
While a portion of audience members were able to sing along with the Japanese verses, many were not. Despite this, their enthusiasm never died down during the Japanese portions of the songs.
When the band first began releasing all-English versions of their albums, it was exciting for the members. Taka had loved the English language, despite finding it difficult, and would often listen to English songs.
Both Taka and Toru had hoped the English recordings would help to spread their music further, allowing more people to hear what they wanted to say.
Hearing both English and Japanese at Saturday’s concert felt like a beautiful blending of cultures. No matter which part of the songs people could sing along with, be it English, Japanese or both, everyone in the venue could feel the shared love for the music in the air.
It was the kind of connection every musician wants to create with their music, the kind that transcends language and creates pure passion.
The concert concluded with a two-song encore, the band leading into their last song “American Girls” with an audience-wide chant for Atlanta. It was a display of city pride that could compare only to popular sporting events.
At the end of the show, the crowd, still charged with the frenzy that only live music can supply, flooded into the brightly lit Atlanta streets, the post-concert buzzing merging perfectly into the city’s nightlife.
One Ok Rock is a truly special concert-going experience. The Japanese rock band brings energy, talent and culture to every venue they stop at and the Tabernacle was no exception. Every member of the group is so clearly talented, together they create a band that is definitely worth seeing perform.