The Return of the King

It was foretold centuries ago by the great philosophers and learned men. The astronomers looked to the heavens and said “the world as we know it will reach its end. The apocalypse will be feared. And that constellation there (no, a little to the left) will appear on earth to save the people, and all will be made right again.” Well, my friends, he is here.

That’s right. Yoshiki’s plans to conquer the United States have been put in action at last, 18 years after they were first conceived. Along with XJapan, Yoshiki held the first press conference in New York City to pitch plans for a North American tour in 1992. Probably most of you weren’t even born yet. The plans fell through, however, and the band split up in ’97. A proper campaign and future presidency seemed out of his reach until last year when Yoshiki brought his band-members together for what was supposed to be a “final performance” for vocalist Toshi, at the Hollywood music-video filming concert. However, during that time, the band was able to rally together and, although I’m sure it took more than a few shirtless and heartfelt ‘ganbare!’s from the determined Yoshiki, they reunited for a total comeback.

Now that Yoshiki is based out of Los Angeles, his campaign is able to go much more smoothly. With the intention of “starting over” in the US, he has already founded a charity organization THE YOSHIKI FOUNDATION OF AMERICA, and hosted the opening event on July 1st in L.A.. The band is scheduled for Chicago’s Lollapalooza music festival in August, and Yoshiki and other members will be making appearances at select conventions in the country throughout the summer…. Did you think that would satisfy him?

In the fall, the band will be totally reborn– this time in the American music-industry, not the Japanese market. They will release a brand new full-length album which, as quoted by Yoshiki, is currently “90% complete”. But that’s not all, they have also announced a 10-city North American tour that will begin sometime in October, including a (projected) run through Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Vancouver, New York, Boston, etc. They will perform in 2,000-6,000 capacity venues– so if you were expecting an intimate, rock-band comeback…

XJapan is Back

I know it seems like I mock, but actually this is one of the most exciting things happening in the Jrock scene these days. As evidenced by his persistence in trying to get over here for a tour, and with past efforts such as S.K.I.N., Yoshiki is one of the pioneers of Visual Kei overseas activity. It’s pretty cool that he’s finally making this all happen, but also in many ways I’m not remotely surprised. There was never any doubt in my mind that Yoshiki would come to conquer– it was just a matter of time.

XJapan is an interesting phenomenon, though.

For example, if you look at abingdon boys school, MIYAVI, and GACKT, these guys can all sell out the Tokyo Dome in minutes over in Japan. I honestly doubt MIYAVI could sell out a 2,000 capacity venue here. But the point isn’t necessarily whether it’s possible or not. The point is that when an artist like abingdon boys school or GACKT, perform overseas, they perform in miniscule venues. In many ways, the way I look at it, it’s preferable to see them perform overseas because you can get close enough to touch them. In Japan, they perform at huge venues, so that’s not really possible. It creates a different experience of the band overseas. Because it felt like such a powerful experience seeing a.b.s and MIYAVI in tiny venues, I feel like the live impacted me so much more than it otherwise would have, and as a result, I’m a much more devoted fan.

However, when XJapan performed in Hollywood last year, the amount of people who showed up to be a part of that moment was staggering. When their appearance at Lollapalooza was announced, however, it got a mixed response. I think a lot of people wanted Yoshiki to plan his North American activity more like GACKT has planned his European debut. Small, intimate, personal venues that sell out, but for the people who get to go, it’s an unbelievable experience.

But somehow if you look at what happened with the Hollywood filming event, you wonder if that sort of thing is even possible for this band. Does it seem incredible that they can perform before 20-60,000 people in North America? Does this mean that everyone knows a closet-XJapan-fan? There you were, living your Visualist life, thinking you were isolated and alone in your fandom…and now you know that with those kinds of numbers projected for this tour, we should practically all know at least one XJapan fan?

I think the ambition and trust Yoshiki shows by knowing they’ll sell out 6,000 seats is terrific, because these artists should believe they have this kind of fanbase– they need to have that belief in us, because generally they seem to underestimate our numbers. And I hope that by showing this kind of confidence, he can inspire more Jrock artists to perform overseas. But not in 6,000 capacity venues, please and thank you.

6 responses to “The Return of the King

  1. Hahahaha, I was born in 1990! Unfortunately by 1992 I had no grasp on who Yoshiki was or even what Japan was for that matter.

    I agree with you that I hope this tour works out because I would love to see him coax some other VK artists overseas. Yoshiki is an influential powerhouse, so his presence in the US could really help.

    • That would certainly be awesome if this tour inspired other bands to perform overseas. I also hope it would inspire bands to be able to do lives and receive recognition independent of, say, anime conventions and so on. Although I understand that it’s an easy way to appeal to an organized interest, I also think it’s time the West came to acknowledge Japan’s rock scene as it’s own unique aspect of the culture– not just as a theme song.

  2. I totally agree with you. I had a concert of Versailles in Amsterdam, and it took place in a very small venue (I think 100 / 150 people) but it was very intens. People at the front could touch the artists, and it was overal a wonderful experience.

    I think a part of that experience will fade away when they perform in larger venues.

    • It does make for an extremely meaningful experience when you’re able to get that close to the artists. The larger the venue gets, the intensity of experience can potentially (although not necessarily) become more and more diluted.

      Also, as an aside, when GACKT performs in the small venues in Europe, the attendees will be able to experience a level of live such as he would have had earlier in his career, way before the major arena gigs. So in a way, we also get to witness a ‘beginning’ in the West, the same as fans did when he started in Japan. However, in this case for XJapan, it will be more like jumping in the middle, if you know what I mean.

      That’s awesome that you got to see Versailles live. Will you be going to any more shows in the near future?

  3. I’m glad that Yoshiki is confident in himself and everything, but I’m skeptical if he’ll be able to fill 2-6k venues in every city. I mean, in LA and NY and similar places I dont doubt it, but unless people are traveling far to go to all of the shows, I think some of them might be a little less full. From what I hear about the SKIN concert in 07, it was a 5K capacity venue and even with giving out all of the free tickets from it being at an anime con, it was probably maybe half full.

    But on the other hand, I do know -multiple- people that travel great lengths and expenses to go to anything X Japan related (traveling across the country for just the PV shooting in Jan, or a 14 hr car ride planned last second just for the Party this last weekend), plus I’m sure there will be a -lot- of people traveling from Japan just to see them for the opportunity to see them in a more intimate venue (even though it will still be pretty big).

    Also, I’m kind of sad that they’ll be doing such big shows. the smaller, more intimate shows really are something amazing to experience. When I saw Satsuki & auncia last year in little tokyo the place was a TINY bar and I was literally right there less than 2ft from them the whole time. That was probably one of my most amazing experiences. and even with X Japan’s little faux performance at the Yoshiki Foundation party last weekend, it was still a pretty small place (or at least it felt that way from being 2nd row, I dont know the capacity exactly) and I felt that they were able to connect with the audience a lot (even though it was for a PV).

    All in all, I’m just hoping the ticket prices wont be too expensive. I know with big acts here in America ticket prices can be anywhere in the hundreds and i dont know if I wouold be that willing to do that for them…

    • I don’t think skepticism about his ability to fill those venues is entirely baseless. However, I think that even if they don’t sell out every venue, I have a feeling that they’ll still make an extremely successful run of it.
      After all, somehow the limited success of the S.K.I.N. gig kind of makes sense to me. I mean, I would have been psyched to be able to make it, but I’m not surprised it got a mediocre reception.
      Unlike S.K.I.N., which although comprised of huge-name acts, was pretty much an unknown factor, X Japan has huge popularity in both the US and Japan, and for both nationalities of fandom, this is a huge event in their musical career. It’s been 18 years since the original tour was pitched, so I’m sure diehard veteran fans are seizuring with joy right about now. As you say, people will travel (and I have no doubt they’ll come from Japan and probably other countries as well) for this. And besides, X Japan really does have a more internationally-friendly sound, so I would be surprised to discover that they aren’t widely popular in the metal scene in the West.

      I’m not too happy about the venue size either, to be honest. I’m not a huge fan, so really I’m much less motivated to make an effort to see them since they’ll be performing in large venues. But I suppose we’ll see what happens when more information is released.

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