One OK Rock

support Tonight Alive + Mallory Knox
author LF date 09/12/14 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Although it's been a while since I was into anything I could find that was Japanese, the announcement that one of Japan's biggest rock bands was to play in Copenhagen was still definitely too interesting to ignore. Add to that the fact that both of the announced support bands are also pretty interesting in their own right, and the decision to come to Amager Bio tonight is really a no brainer. Fortunately a fair amount of people seem to agree with me on this since the venue is already buzzing when I arrive just in time for the first guitar note of Mallory Knox.

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Mallory Knox

As I hurry inside, pleased with how many people have come out early for a Tuesday show, the band settles in on stage with their first song. During their set they play a good mix of tunes from their two albums that all have pretty equally catchy melodies, and as they play solidly through them the quality of the songs is more than enough to slowly get the crowd going after a little while. Vocalist Mikey Chapman's singing especially is spot on tonight but him hitting every note perfectly ends up being the most impressive thing about the band tonight. Even as they play their intelligently composed songs with no obvious shortcomings, the only person moving and engaging the crowd is the mainly laid-back Chapman, who jumps around from time to time and demands that we "Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!". And it's not that letting their melodies do most of their work for them is such a bad idea as most of them are well-composed and bouncy, and a fair part of the audience up front is jumping along and occasionally screaming during the set. Even then the band seems almost tired on stage, and their set ends up feeling like a slow start to the evening as their songs unfortunately never pack quite the punch they could have. My personal highlight of their set ends up being the soulful "Death Rattle" towards the end, but again mainly due to the lovely variations in Chapman's vocals. It seems to me that every band on stage tonight goes about their show in a very business-like manner, and in Mallory Knox' case it results in an admittedly good sounding but boring performance.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Beggars
  • 2. Shout at the Moon
  • 3. Getaway
  • 4. Wake Up
  • 5. Ghost in the Mirror
  • 6. Death Rattle
  • 7. Lighthouse

Tonight Alive

Contrasting sharply with the act just before them, the Aussies of Tonight Alive provide an entirely different level of energetic performance. Even as they are normally categorized as plain pop punk, they appear as the heaviest sounding band tonight, complete with an emphasis on easycore breakdowns and a single "Blergh!" from vocalist Jenna McDougall. Initially I get worried as McDougall seems to cut some of her more impressive notes short as they kick off with "The Edge" and continue with a slightly rushed version of "The Fire". It seems that her primary focus on stage is to convey massive energy and she does that very successfully as she is constantly pacing the stage and swinging her arms around. Her huge arm movements do look a little forced up this close however, and seem like they would suit a bigger stage much better. Luckily it soon becomes evident that she knows exactly where it's best for her to focus and push her voice when playing live, while also giving herself room to save energy by intertwining the melodies with a more spoken-word like approach that incidentally works well for engaging the audience as well. As the set rolls on, she reaches for some higher parts and especially on "Complexes" it works impressively well, providing one of the more memorable moments of the evening.

Unfortunately the guitars are all but gone in the mix throughout the set to the point where I figure I can only hear some of the cooler riffs hidden in there because I know what to listen for already. With all the energy flying around, it's like tempo runs away with the band from time to time, giving some songs a bit of a chaotic expression that doesn't do justice to the catchy melodies they consist of. In terms of song choices the focus is generally on the band's newest album "The Other Side", but for us older fans the setlist also includes banging versions of both "Wasting Away" and "Listening". While I wouldn't mind McDougall standing more still on stage to be able to really put power behind some of their more challenging melodies, their set is generally thrilling to watch, not least because they do such a good job of engaging especially the dedicated fans they have in the audience. Thus I end up thinking that we get the best of both worlds here, as we get an infectiously energetic live band that doesn't forget to focus on the quality of the music they're playing.

Setlist:

  • 1. The Edge
  • 2. The Fire
  • 3. Don't Wish
  • 4. Hell and Back
  • 5. The Ocean
  • 6. Wasting Away
  • 7. The Other Side
  • 8. Complexes
  • 9. Listening
  • 10. Lonely Girl

One OK Rock

As mentioned it's been a while since I spent my time with things like manga and J-Rock, but I feel all that coming back to me tonight, not least when waiting for the main act of tonight to come on stage, I spot a girl wearing a Recon Corps jacket from one of my favorite animé shows ("Attack on Titan"), this getting me even more excited for One OK Rock than I already was. As the foursome enter the stage, it's evident that they have a different kind of superstar vibe around them, both from the way they act on stage and from the almost frenzied energy the audience give off as they scream them a warm welcome. It seems the entire floor is ready for firing it up just from finally seeing their idols on Danish ground, and this extreme goodwill towards them is only extended as the band plays through a very good-sounding set like it's the only thing they've ever been doing.

One of the only signs that this band comes from an entirely different scene than what we're used to in Europe is the way they intertwine English and Japanese in their lyrics. People say that they are the most American sounding of the J-rock bands and this is indeed true, as their music recalls bands like The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Linkin Park or Three Days Grace, mixing poppy melodies and a vibe of grandeur with hard rock instrumentals and occasional screams. Somehow balancing the energy levels of the two bands before them, they play with just the right amount of outward energy while also sounding vibrant and seemingly not missing a note anywhere. They are an extremely well-produced band, and their backing track provides plenty of electronic effects and extra vocal harmonies which smoothes out the experience. While that can sometimes alienate me as a listener, One OK Rock weaves this together so seamlessly with their live instruments that this is not a problem at all, and every song sounds like a carefully constructed unit where every note has been purposefully placed.

Their material tonight is mostly newer, spanning the two new singles "Mighty Long Fall" and "Decision", a couple of songs from 2011's "Zankyo Reference", with the bulk of it being from their newest album "Jinsei×Boku=". The band even takes time to include a guitar jam in their set, working as a short interlude halfway through, but considering the amount of albums they have released I find it odd that they don't use that time on cramming another song on their otherwise relatively short setlist. The oldest song they play tonight is played as the encore, namely the love-song "Wherever You Are" from 2010, which starts out heartfelt and acoustic with just the vocalist Taka and the lead guitarist Toru on stage before they are joined by the rest of the members for a swooping finale to an overall solid evening.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Deeper Deeper
  • 2. Nothing Helps
  • 3. Re:make
  • 4. Clock Strikes
  • 5. Jam session
  • 6. Mighty Long Fall
  • 7. Be the Light
  • 8. Decision
  • 9. NO SCARED
  • 10. The Beginning

- Encore

  • 11. Wherever You Are

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