The intersection of Hollywood and Highland is a well-known tourist spot in Los Angeles. People in costumes of famous characters line the Walk of Fame for tourists’ amusement while shoppers buzz in and out of the five-story mall. However, even the locals knew something special was going on Saturday, January 9, 2010, when the structure built on the roof of Sephora was revealed to be a stage, and a crowd formed on the sidewalk below to gaze between that and the large screen located next to Express, at the main entrance to the Hollywood and Highland Center. There were differently dressed up people that day, carrying signs and flags and stuffed dolls with pink hair. When asked “What’s going on?” members of the crowd replied, “X Japan are filming music videos.”

Fans milled around and watched the last moments of setup and preparation. Around 3 p.m., “Jade” blasted through the speakers on Hollywood Boulevard to test the sound system. “Endless Rain” followed, and the crowd could guess at two of the four songs they would hear for the filming. The crowd grew as the sun crept lower in the sky, and at 4 p.m., everyone looked up to the clear-floored stage as X Japan appeared. Shouts erupted from the crowd as Pata, Heath, Toshi, and Sugizo could be seen through the stage. Sugizo was the first to approach the edge as he tested the railing’s stability, but it was Toshi who looked down at the crowd, smiled, and waved.

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The opening to “Rusty Nail” rang loud and clear on the street, and fans immediately cheered and jumped up and down. Some sang along, others screamed and watched in awe that X Japan was actually up on that rooftop. At the end of “Rusty Nail” the band left the stage for a costume change. Their return signaled the start of “Jade,” the newest song in X Japan’s repertoire. Though the music was pre-recorded, fans listened eagerly to the heavy drumbeat and guitar riff as Toshi’s voice soared through the sky and carried the contrasting, smooth, melodic lyrics to the street below.
Another costume change led the band into “Endless Rain.” The clip used was a live version, so the audience got to sing along to the chorus just like in all the live concerts from years and decades past. X Japan left the stage as the audience sang, and then returned in one last set of costumes for “I.V.” Toshi held his microphone down to signal the audience to sing “In the rain,” and “Find a way,” as he responded. When the riff to the Saw IV song kicked in, the audience simultaneously head banged, pumped their arms, and sang along. When the song was over, X Japan left the stage and didn’t re-emerge until sunset to shoot with the pyrotechnics and lasers.

Over the next six hours, the filming pattern continued in a similar manner. Each time, a few different things would happen, such as fireworks, laser lights, and flames shooting into the air. The crowd at least tripled in size from the time the event began, with just as many people there out of sheer curiosity as there were fans who waited as long as twenty years to see X Japan perform. The video feed from the stage appeared on the ground level screen for fans to get a closer view of X Japan’s vantage point. Around 7 pm, the screen showed live clips from the March 2008 Reunion Concerts, the hide Memorial Summit, and the Taiwan live. Staff members wandered the crowd and passed out glow sticks in blue, green, pink, and purple. Press, both American and Japanese, interviewed audience members during the downtime between takes.

As the night approached 9 pm, Yoshiki took the microphone and thanked everyone for coming out to see the band and be part of the filming process. He announced that it was the last take for the four songs, and this seemed to reignite the audience as they cheered and sang along louder than previous takes. At the end the band took their bows and waved to the crowd, who all waved and cheered back. Throughout the dispersing audience people said goodbye, “It was nice to meet you,” and showed a general camaraderie for their fellow fans, many of which of whom traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to watch the momentous event.

The filming came to an end, but X Japan’s presence in the United States has only just begun.

Live Report by: Corinne
Edited by: Ali W.
Photography by: Tre Gallery (#28-40)
Official Photos: Courtesy of X Japan and BAM! Marketing and Promotions