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…
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.