January 3, 2018


Why Coachella's Spotlight on J-Rock With X Japan and Otoboke Beaver Is Significant

Kevin Nixon/Metal Hammer Magazine via Getty Images
Kevin Nixon/Metal Hammer Magazine via Getty Images

While the newly unveiled Coachella lineup is remarkable for its headliners featuring the biggest stars in hip-hop and R&B , the Indio, Calif. festival also stands out for its embracing two native Japanese rock acts and the significance in delivering visibility for an international music scene.

Long-running, glam-rock sensations X Japan along with punk quartet Otoboke Beaver are slated for the festival, both playing the Day 2 shows on April 14 and 21. The inclusions bring a refreshing breath of diversity to not only the increasingly similar U.S. festival lineups, but also give a major opportunity to two of the Japanese-rock scene's most exciting bands that offer a similarly thrilling experience to their Western counterparts.

Despite not releasing an album in nearly 20 years, X Japan has remained a sensation in their native country since their '80s breakout. The band reunited in the late '00s, recently playing a slew of international tour dates and releasing their highly personal We Are X documentary. Comparatively, Otoboke Beaver is a relative newcomer with the feminist punk outfit forming in 2009 with growing international interest and festival appearances. The festival culture in Japan is huge—with popular shows in Summer Sonic, Rock in Japan, Punkspring, Metrock and more than a 100,000 coming to Niigata's annual Fuji Rock fest—with Japanese rock acts groomed to take on the world's biggest stages thanks to a healthy music industry (only second to the U.S.) and a love of live concert experiences.

When visibility for artists of color is more important than ever—and, as the end of 2017 proved, particularly necessary for Asian artists after NBC's major Korean-pop faux pas—including a classic act like X Japan and promising new stars in Otoboke Beaver gives an opportunity for these J-pop musicians to be an exciting discovery band for festivalgoers and open their minds to the different types of music one can expect at a U.S. music festival.

See the full Coachella 2018 lineup here and then watch fellow J-rock stars Babymetal recall their first festival performance in our video interview below: