One OK Rock Brings Power, Lights, and Perfection to Varsity Theater


I walked into the Varsity Theater to find myself completely out of place. I was one of the oldest people there also making me one of the tallest. I felt terrible and tried to find a spot along the wall as to not obstruct the view of those behind me but, at a sold out show, it seems like the wall spots are the first to be taken. I took a deep breath and pushed weaved my way through the crowd until I found a spot where I felt like I was obstructing the view for just a handful of people who, if they asked, could easily move in front of me. I felt out of place. There was a sense of excitement in the audience that I just couldn’t get into. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was excited to be at a show because, well, that’s what I do and I’m always stoked to catch some new bands but the excitement in the club was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was loud and rowdy without the booze that usually facilities a mood like this. I was intrigued and settled in for whatever the night would bring.

Australian pop-punkers Stand Atlantic took the stage first to a roar of applause. Clearly an audience that doesn’t go to a show every night, whispers around me led me to believe that some people were a bit confused when the band took the stage and they realized it wasn’t the headliner. It took a little bit but people seemed to warm up to the idea of an opener (or two) and, within no time, the crowd was jumping along to the infectious pop-punk beats of this band. I loved the vibe of this band. Definitely old school, you could hear influences from some of the great pop-punk bands of days past which happen to take up most of my daily playlist. Fun and light-hearted, vocalist/ guitarist Bonnie Fraser urged the band to join in on the fun. Some did and some did not but the level of excitement that was radiating throughout the venue never faltered. There was a sense of power behind this band and although they were the first of two openers for this show, they treated the show like they were headlining. These guys have been around for a couple of years now and have toured with some powerhouses of bands but haven’t seemed to have hit their stride here in the United States yet. If every show during this tour is like last night’s set, I think that is quickly going to change and we can expect a headlining tour from these Australian rockers sooner rather than later.

Following a super quick set change was Waterparks from Texas. The only American band on the bill, Waterparks’ vocalist Awsten Knight seemed a bit discouraged by the response of the crowd for the first couple of songs but, after calling the audience out, finally got what he wanted by the third song. Much like Stand Atlantic, Waterparks’ music is upbeat and infectious but there’s a bit more of an edge to it. Whereas Stand Atlantic’s music seemed to nod towards the greats in the pop-punk scene, Waterparks’ sound mixed a few new elements into the sound like hip-hop and indie rock tendencies. A unique sound while still remaining approachable and familiar, Waterparks kept that energy bar high (even though Awsten seemed to not 100% agree) and had the audience in the palm of their hand. Even during an acoustic song that was nothing short of beautiful, there was a sense of energy throughout the excited crowd that refused to be ignored.

Something changed in the air as the stage was switched over from Waterparks to headliner One OK Rock and as soon as the Waterparks banner started to be torn down to reveal One OK Rock’s, the audience’s conversations turned into deafening cheers. Sure, I had heard One OK Rock before and knew they were great but I didn’t expect this amount of excitement over the band. I stood back and thought about it. Being from Japan, One OK Rock doesn’t come to the states all of the time and seem to come to Minneapolis even less. These people had been waiting years for this show. It all made sense and it was honestly impossible not to get lost in the excitement of those around me.

The lights went down and the four piece rock band stormed the stage with an absolute sense of power. They wasted no time and jumped into their first song which, in turn, had the entire audience jumping around with the band. Within the first couple of notes it was clear that this band has a sense of power when it comes to their stage show and a sense of perfection when it comes to their music. Opening with the song “Push Back” was a great choice as this song highlights the true vocal talent of this young group. With harmonies that gave me goosebumps and the chills, it was the type of song that instantly caught you and had you truly captivated by the lights and sound.

With nine albums out, One OK Rock is definitely what I would call a seasoned band but with only one member over the age of 30, they are still young and able to have fun with what they’re doing. That is clear to see and I loved the way vocalist Takahiro “Taka” Moriuchi played with the crowd by holding out the microphone and letting the audience take over. I may not have been able to sing along to the words as I never really dove deep into One OK Rock’s discography but the rest of the crowd could and that sound left me with chills. From the epic light show to the sound of perfection to the fun the audience was clearly having, last night’s show was an absolute blast. I may have been exhausted from a week full of work and shows but One OK Rock had a power and sound that made me forget about all of that.

After just over a dozen songs, the show was done. I, along with the rest of the crowd, was reluctant to leave as I never wanted the show to end but, as they always says, all good things must come to an end. At least this end ended with a smile on my face and a pep in my step.