As the Los Angeles Pandemonium tour show vacillated from a romantic atmosphere to a rave-like experience, Joji demonstrated that regardless of how eccentric, playful, and even vulgar one can be, we all experience the intense depths of emotions from love and loss.
The October 6th concert at the Crypto.com Arena began with openers Lil Toe and SavageRealm. The two hip-hop artists shared the stage as they alternated between their top tracks. They wrapped up their set with a shared performance of Lil Toe singing his track “Suck my Nuts” with SavageRealm hyping up the crowd with his ad libs and sound effects. They were succeeded by Kenny Beats who played a killer set that ranged from remixes of “m.A.A.d city” by Kendrick Lamar to “fuckumean” by Gunna. With the high energy evoked by the openers and Kenny Beats, Joji began his show with an engaging and excited crowd that stayed through the encore.
Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Joji, whose real name is George Miller, gained recognition for his The Filthy Frank Show videos he would post on Youtube. He began his musical career with two comedy rap albums released under the name Pink Guy which he eventually left behind to begin making ballads and R&B music under the name Joji. I began listening to Joji after snippets of his Pink Guy tracks went viral on TikTok, and was truly impressed by his ability to carry a fan base over from a completely different genre. His setlist spanned his discography from BALLADS 1 to SMITHEREENS to Nectar, with intermissions of crude jokes, dance parties, mini DJ sets, and basketball, in true Pink Guy fashion. SavageRealm accompanied Joji throughout the concert by playing random sound effects and bouncing jokes off Joji. Played off as someone to keep Joji grounded, SavageRealm stood next to a big red button that he hit to shut off all the power in the arena when Joji inevitably made too many vulgar jokes, showing that it is in fact true that “some things never change.”
Joji performs with raw and immense vulnerability that draws the audience in closer. When performing tracks like “worldstar money (interlude)” or “Afterthought,” people sang along swaying with their hands in the air, couples held onto each other, and phone flashlights lit up the arena like stars.
The most “Joji moment” of the concert was when he first began performing his most popular track, “Glimpse of Us,” and only sang one verse before transitioning the song into a DJ remix with a laser light show. At first, the fan in me was disappointed that we only heard one verse of it performed normally and was confused as to why he cheaped out on his most beloved song, but after performing the last few tracks, Joji ended the show by performing an extended version of “Glimpse of Us” that reminded listeners of the reason they first fell in love with Joji’s discography. Closing with his most heart-wrenching song, Joji demonstrated that underneath comedy and satire, we all cherish emotional connection at the end of the day.
Ending a heart wrenching ballad with an outro of “bruh” DJ soundboard effects and 2 minutes straight of peeing noises, Joji’s performance was akin to that of a frat boy that tells he loves you in bed, but kicks you out the second the deed is done. Lacking aftercare, the R&B singer-songwriter went from asking the crowd to shine flashing lights in the air as we all sang about love, to shooting merchandise at us through a t-shirt gun, resulting in a show that perfectly reflects the juxtaposition of Joji and his rapper alter ego, Pink Guy.
Combining intense emotion with his trademark over-the-top humor, Joji created an atmosphere full of passion, reminding us that in our sorrow and our joys, we must feel everything fully.
Photos by Hope Phahla