ONE OK ROCK, Waterparks & Stand Atlantic – Ram’s Head Live – Baltimore, MD – March 6, 2019
Eye of the Storm
It was a sold-out night at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore for Japanese band ONE OK ROCK, just one of many packed shows on this tour. Fans piled into the multi-level venue with ease, thanks to the unique layout of the room, and did the last bit of their waiting before bearing witness to an incredible performance and light show from all three bands on the line-up. It was a much calmer show, crowd-wise, compared to others of similar genres I’ve attended in the past. But the crowd was happy and sang loudly the entire night, with a mini mosh pit forming somewhere in the middle.
Australian natives Stand Atlantic took the stage first with an upbeat, typical pop punk performance. Their on-stage presence was a bit awkward, but it came off as part of their appeal while they played through their set and chatted with the crowd between songs. Part-way through, lead singer Bonnie Fraser changed things up by introducing a saxophone player to the performance. It was a fun little spin on the usual pop-punk sound that we’re all familiar with. Shortly following, the room was beautifully lit up by cell phone lights while the band slowed things down, but they quickly bounced right back into their high energy hooks.
Second in the touring line-up is Waterparks, who have gained quite a name for themselves due to quirky lead singer, Awsten Knight. Lighting-wise, their set was dark and harder to see, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind one bit as Awsten stepped out with a toothbat (something he’s recently become obsessed with and a fan finally gifted to him). The following surrounding this band tends to be high-energy and intense, which is definitely noticeable in the crowd as they power through their set while the venue continues to fill up.
ONE OK ROCK, also sometimes stylized as 10969, rounds out the night with the most spectacular light display I have ever seen by a band, especially in a smaller venue. They’re obviously seasoned performers who don’t fail to impress. For some of us in the crowd, it’s the first time seeing them since they opened for Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer back in 2016. While they were great back then, they’ve really stepped up their game since. Their thirteen-song set, with a one-song encore, was a pretty equal mix of songs of their new album Eye of the Storm and songs from their previous album Ambitions. They opened with “Push Back,” which starts as a chant and was near-mesmerizing to hear everyone in the room join in.
The set is full of an electrifying energy that can be difficult to capture, but provides a different experience, depending where in the room you’re standing. Those in the upper levels of the balcony were able to experience the entire atmosphere. There is a little extra magic, being above the rest of the crowd and hearing the songs sung in unison. While those in the lower levels and on the floor are privileged to a more intimate and personal show as lead singer Taka interacts with the crowd as best as he can from stage. He thanked everyone several times, explaining that they enjoy being back on the east coast, before jumping into another series of songs that feature more chants and fewer instrumentals than some of the earlier work.
About mid-way through the night, things slowed down. It’s interesting watching how the crowd reacts when they aren’t asked to light the room up. A few phones go up, but mostly people look around them and take in the moment while ONE OK ROCK performs “Head High” and fan favorite “Take What You Want.” The harmonies are beautiful to hear in person and Taka sure knows how to nail a high note, earning gasps and cheers from even the hardest-to-please concert-goers. While he jumps around the stage, it’s a wonder how he manages to keep his breath. Then they roll right into another chant, which is unique to their sound. It allows for maximum crowd-interaction and even those who are new to the band can easily learn the words.
There’s a portion of the show that purely focuses on instrumentals between Toru (guitar), Ryota (bass), and Tomoya (drums); switching between solos and battling each other before Taka (vocals) re-enters the stage. It’s an unbelievably epic display of all their individual talents just before the night ends with an encore of “Wasted Nights” off their most recent album. The fans wait around long after the music has died down and the guys have left the stage. There’s a sense of belonging and community in the room that’s hard to find anywhere else besides the live show of your favorite band. Everywhere you look, friends are reconnecting after being separated and someone is giving final hugs before saying goodbye until their next show together. It’s a pleasant end to a wonderful night.
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 9, 2019.
Photos by Kaiti Fleeger © 2019.