Photo Credit: Timothy Norris / Kia Forum
On the Smithereens Oblivion tour, Joji performed at the famed Kia Forum on a gloomy, foggy Saturday night, perfectly suited to his musical style. In spite of the large venue, the singer managed to create an intimate and unique concert experience for fans through his performances, his witty personality, and his band.
Joji is a shapeshifting entertainer, previously known as Pink Guy and Filthy Frank and now he’s also adopted a DJ persona, Yebi Labs. Joji has attracted a wide range of fans throughout the years, and his openers offered concertgoers a wide range of music.Kicking off the show was Savagerealm, who performed a mixture of both slow and upbeat songs. During his performances, he did plenty of crowd work, encouraging attendees to participate in singing along and get “turnt up” together. Second up was Lil Toe (Ammo), who performed intense, raunchy, high energy rap songs which greatly contrasted the main event of the night. The last opener was fellow Japanese singer, Rei Brown, who sang chill pop tracks as he danced across the stage. His set featured unreleased music, as well as songs such as “Thinking Bout You,” which originally features the headliner.
Almost two hours after the show’s start time, it was finally the main act of the evening’s turn. The lights dimmed, the cheers of the audience grew loud enough to shake the venue, and the live band began to play as Joji walked onstage, wearing a Lakers hat and loudly shouting “Los Angeles!”
Diving right into it, the singer’s first song was “Sanctuary,” which set the tone of creating a safe space for attendees to enjoy the music and atmosphere of the show. He performed hit song after hit song, including “Daylight,” “Attention,” and “Ew.” Joji paused for a quick “pee” break, and Yebi Labs (Joji’s DJ persona) took the stage. The EDM set featured remixes of a variety of songs, including Joji’s own “Test Drive,” “Tick Tock,” and “Glimpse of Us,” and it ended once Joji’s “bathroom break” was finished. The singer then blew through songs such as “Pretty Boy,” “Plastic Taste,” and “Gimme Love,” before leaving the stage as his first faux ending. He returned for an acoustic and regular version of “Slow Dancing in the Dark,” exited yet again for his second faux ending, and came back for the real finale with “Glimpse of Us.”
With so many of his most popular tracks on the setlist, it would’ve been easy to satisfy fans without putting in any extra effort, yet Joji did the exact opposite. The show featured a few onstage mini games, one-liners before every single song to give fans clues of what was to come, and a lot of witty commentary and banter between the singer and opening act Savagerealm, who also served as the evening’s DJ. Joji introduced each member of his live band early on, giving fans a look into how close their bond is and throwing in small comments of how his pianist was “definitely not on drugs” and how Savagerealm “had his Instagram page deleted for posting a photo of CBD.” The night’s DJ even had a big red button next to his soundboard, prepared in case Joji misbehaved and he needed to stop the production. In fact, the DJ did end up using said big red button after Joji insisted Savagerealm get “milked” on stage. Some of the preparations for the night included the “75th Annual Jack Off,” which was a battle of Jack Sparrow impersonators, a game of BlackJack betting “nut bucks,” and the use of “heaven weaponry” to shoot shirts into the crowd.
In a night full of diverse music, funny antics, and fan service, the most memorable moment was without a doubt the final song, “Glimpse of Us.” As Joji returned for the second encore, he mentioned that this was “one last song that he forgot to perform,” and the excitement from the crowd was palpable. Fans reacted in various ways from jumping and screaming to groups swaying along with their arms around each other’s shoulders, reveling in the moment together. Singing the melancholic song, the crowd accompanied Joji, belting the lyrics at the top of their lungs which was enough to elicit goosebumps. All the voices echoed throughout the venue, embodying a true “I made it moment” for Joji, especially in the historic Kia Forum.
Joji gave attendees a one-of-a-kind experience, putting his smooth vocals and quirky persona front and center at the concert. With such a unique story his rise to fame, the show perfectly embodied who Joji is, and exactly why people love him.