Filthy Frank, Pink Guy, Joji — George Kusunoki Miller has had many names and has evolved throughout the years. Yet, his transformation through these different identities and phases has left him with a loyal and avid fanbase. His evolution from internet comedian to international superstar has made him a pop culture icon, now with over 22 million Spotify monthly listeners. His professional music career as Joji has since led to four albums and numerous tours, his most recent being the Pandemonium tour.
Spanning North America, Australia, Asia and New Zealand, Pandemonium is Joji’s fourth musical tour, beginning on Sept. 29, 2023, in Houston, Texas. The tour reached the DMV last week on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C., where the nearly sold-out venue hosted thousands of fans. Supported by two opening acts — rappers SavageRealm and Lil Toe — and special guest producer Kenny Beats, the concert was three hours of heart-wrenching performances and hype DJ sets interjected with Joji’s famed performative antics between songs.
Openers SavageReal and Lil Toe performed for the first hour of the concert, which began at 8 p.m. With their gritty rap, comedy and crowdwork, it was a natural pick for Joji’s fanbase. They warmed up the crowd and brought energy to the stage, even opening a mosh pit at multiple points on the arena floor. Afterward, famed DJ and producer Kenny Beats built the hype with a rap-infused DJ set, ranging from throwbacks by Missy Elliott and Soulja Boy to modern hits by Ice Spice and Sexyy Red. The accompanying lasers, lights and on-screen visuals complemented these performances as each act brought their A-game. The pre-Joji performers knew exactly who their audience was and played to it perfectly as excitement built and the night progressed.
And as for the headliner himself? It seemed like Joji had just as much fun performing as his audience did watching him. No stranger to the spotlight, Joji knew how to captivate the audience as he opened with his hit “Sanctuary.” The setlist itself was packed with Joji hits, including “YEAH RIGHT,” “Die For You,” “Gimme Love” and “CAN’T GET OVER YOU (feat. Clams Casino),” but also included songs from his older albums such as “worldstar money (interlude).” Along with the setlist, however, it was also his performances between these songs that elevated the concert experience.
A comedian at heart, Joji knows how to make a crowd laugh — and that is exactly what he did. His antics included playing a round of the videogame Super Smash Brothers with SavageRealm (who supported him on stage as his DJ throughout his set), firing merch with a T-shirt cannon into the crowd and looking at memes on the big screen between songs. Despite his loss in Smash that night, Joji won the hearts of the thousands of fans in attendance.
Mischief and music aside, the visuals of the performance were captivating, complete with cube-shaped platforms that rose and sank throughout the performance and lights that changed to match the art of the albums that each song was from. The watercolor-like streaks of blue and green for songs from SMITHEREENS, bright red for songs from Nectar, black and beige for BALLADS 1 and deep purples and blues for In Tongues transported the audience to the respective Joji era of each song he performed.
His dedication to the concert didn’t end with his planned setlist — Joji performed two encore songs, coming back out twice to chants of “JOJI!” from the crowd, still eager to hear his most well-known hits. His first encore, “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK,” lit up the arena as fans pulled out their flashlights and sang their hearts out to the song that launched him into the mainstream back in 2018. After “ending” the show again, Joji finished with “Glimpse of Us” — the 2022 hit off of his most recent album, SMITHEREENS, that won him multiple award nominations.
As fans trickled out of the venue around 11 p.m., abuzz with energy and cladded in new merch, Joji’s effect was tangible. It's safe to assume that his performances on this tour will only continue to dazzle his eager fans.