Hatsune Miku and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, arguably the two most important, influential Japanese pop stars of the last decade, will both perform at this year’s Coachella festival this April, held at its traditional ceremonial grounds out the middle of a desert in California somewhere. For the uninitiated, it’s worth mentioning here at the top that Hatsune Miku does not actually exist and is, in fact, a collection of “vocaloid” software developed by Crypton Future Media.
This will not be the first United States performance for either idol, or even the first time that both are on the same bill, but it is the first time that either have performed at such a high-profile North American music festival. As can be seen on the official Coachella website, Miku performs on the first day of each festival weekend, while Kyary Pamyu Pamyu takes the stage on the third. Both acts receive third-string billing based on the customary Music Festival Ranking of Importance as Denoted by Font Size, making them less notable than Charli XCX, but more notable than, say, Cashmere Cat.
Hatsune Miku performances are incredible marvels of modern effects engineering, which combine live musical performances with pre-animated holograms, advanced motion capture techniques, and other augmented reality trickery to put on spectacular pop idol events that would be prohibitively expensive (or just physically impossible) for actual humans to pull off. Since theoretically anyone can write music with Hatsune Miku at the mic, her repertoire runs an enormously diverse musical gambit, including EDM, folk music, love ballads, and various forms of metal, just to scratch the surface. As such, her live performances vary widely in tone and style, often at the drop of a hat, and since everything on stage is either a screen or a hologram, the entire show can morph just as quickly.
Miku’s upcoming show won’t be the first hologram performance at Coachella — that honor goes to the late Tupac Shakur’s surprise appearance at Coachella 2012, 26 years after his murder — but it’s likely to be the most colorful and bombastic.
Kypary Pamyu Pamyu’s shows, meanwhile, are an appropriate pairing with Miku’s extravagant displays. Kyary’s performances tend to be large, elaborate stage productions characterized by outlandish costumes, enormous sets, and even the odd practical effect, some or all of which can change from song to song. They’re all done IRL, of course — no holograms or virtual performances to be seen on a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu stage. This means that KPP has a better chance of landing a daytime slot than Miku does, since Miku’s whole deal heavily depends on darkness to work properly, but Coachella has yet to divulge a specific schedule for this year’s festival.
If you’re interested in braving the desert for a weekend of outlandish anime performance (plus Brockhampton, Marina, and others), you’ll have to snag tickets for the second weekend, since the first has already sold out. I’ve never been to a Coachella, but I do remember an early My Brother, My Brother, and Me episode where Griffin recounts getting some kind of butthole infection while camping there, so I’m not particularly motivated to attend.