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A Glimpse of Joji’s First-Ever Solo Concert in Manila

JOJI concert in Manila
James Francisco

Before Joji dominated TikTok with “Glimpse of Us,” the quintessential breakup song for soft boys, he was better known as Filthy Frank. Many described this guise as the YouTube anti-vlogger, “the embodiment of everything a person should not be.” 

In December of 2022, I witnessed his profanity-fueled yet electric performance with the rest of the 88rising crew at the Head in the Clouds Festival, where the likes of NIKI, Rich Brian, Jackson Wang, and Denise Julia performed. He returned to the Philippines after a year for the Pandemonium World Tour for his first solo concert.

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Vacillating from breakup anthems to lovey-dovey ballads, Joji sure can croon. (One guy described his songs to me as “makeout music,” I can’t disagree.) At the Smart Araneta Coliseum last November 28, he sang popular singles from his vast discography, including hits from his debut album “In Tongues” to his latest one,SMITHEREENS,” which he released last year. 

He opened with his 2020 hit “Sanctuary” before playing a Joji classic, “Yeah Right.” “The food is amazing; the people are amazing; everything’s incredible. I fucking love you,” Joji says sincerely, eliciting thunderous screams from the crowd.

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He performed some “new shit” from “SMITHEREENS,” his newest album. By the time “NIGHT RIDER” was playing, I realized the lighting on-stage changes reflecting the color scheme of each album he borrows from. He slows down with deeply sad songs you still actually want to dance to, with lyrics like, “Will your tongue still remember the taste of my lips?” from “Will He,” his debut single.

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Joji performed arguably one of his most popular songs “Daylight,” which he created with American DJ Diplo. At one point, a mini-rave occurred in a room of mostly Gen Z fans, a welcome intermission that lasted for 15 minutes. Beach balls and toys were tossed by masked men who also DJ-ed. 

He then performed other singles like “Pretty Boy,” “Die For You,” “Afterthought” (a personal favorite), and “Gimmie Love.” During his more intimate songs, you’d see fans collectively holding up their phones with their flashlights on; some even brought lightsticks. It was a sight to behold.

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“Thank you for coming tonight! [Manila is] the greatest city in the world, I swear.” Does Joji say this at every one of his world tour stops? I’d like to believe we truly were the best. He ends the set with the crowd-favorite “Glimpse of Us” (well, of course!). 

We say we’re fine, said we’ve moved on, but Joji, that’s one concert we won’t forget. 

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