Following his headlining performance at 88rising’s Head in the Clouds Festival, lo-fi pop artist Joji embarked on a U.S. coastal tour for his latest album “Nectar,” hitting up New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. On November 20th at The Warfield in San Francisco, Joji entered the stage with his signature outfit of a white wife beater and sweatpants to a cheering crowd. As the singer opened with the mellow lyrics of “Sanctuary,” the audience screamed along every word, showing off their overzealous enthusiasm. This naturally set the tone for the rest of the night. Joji’s concert is like when you go with your friends to karaoke and sing sad ballads at the top of your lungs. In other words, the show was a gathering of people who were more than ready to get hit with the feels.
At the show, Joji took listeners through the roller coaster ride that is love, moving into “Mr. Hollywood.” Crooning a song about hoping that a lover stays despite falling out of love, Joji lulled the crowd with a soothing melody and relatable lyrics. Pulling from his debut album “Ballads,” the artist performed “Attention,” singing of the attention he wishes from his crush who is wasting her time on uninterested men. There’s something striking about Joji’s monotone delivery of the lyrics with the steady ticking instrumental and simple piano melody that emphasize the helpless and hopeless feeling of one-sided love, as his vocals reverberated through the venue.
While the artist goes deep with his music, he also brought notes of levity during the show. His acoustic performance of “Ew” focused on the clarity of his voice and the playful piano, which gradually took center stage with a syncopated melody as Joji kept suggestively moaning variations of “ooh so sexy,” until the end. Likewise for another track, when he sang, “no one loves me like you do,” he quickly switched up the mood to interject “nobody, bitch!” thrilling fans each time he threw in the adlib. Also, the artist took some time to interact with the audience, bringing onstage a large slingshot to launch goodies into the crowd, surprising fans with tour merch and even underwear.
Turning up the show with cheerful tunes, Joji literally jumped into “Can’t Get Over You,” hopping to the breezy chorus. When the opening instrumental of “Gimme Love” played, the audience immediately screamed in recognition. Fooling around with the crowd and pointing at different people demanding their love, the artist quickly reverted back to earnestly delivering the emotional outro, further underscored by the live band’s performance. Another great track that hyped the crowd was “Your Man.” The drums, guitar and synth paired with Joji’s laidback and silly delivery, yelping “your man” increasingly louder and in a higher pitch as the song went on, fueled the crowd’s excitement.
Bringing the show back to its melancholy roots, the singer closed the show with the rollicking track, “Run.” Featuring a haunting guitar riff, the song is about running away from your feelings because of a failed relationship. Not keeping the fans waiting long, he returned for encore performances of his hit track, “Slow Dancing in the Dark.” There’s this cathartic sense of release as Joji and the entire crowd sing together, as if they’re letting go of some sadness. Joji’s never made crying in the club more fun.