Joji — real name George Miller — has become a household name to the YouTube world, known for creating viral comedy videos before fully focusing on his music endeavors. Since then, he has released an EP and two albums under 88rising. On November 7, after a two-year wait, Joji finally graced the Head In The Clouds 2021 stage as a headlining act. The Japanese singer-songwriter built a sanctuary as he entertained the audience for 30 minutes. This also marks his first time performing songs from his sophomore album Nectar, which was released in the midst of the pandemic on September 25, 2020.
If You’ve Been Waiting…
Following the penultimate act beabadoobee, the stage went dark. The audience, eager for what was to come, began to chant for Joji. Then, blue lights started illuminating the stage. Cheers erupted as the name Joji appeared on screen, and soon, the man of the show arrived on stage. With a black parka jacket, white sweatshirt, and sunglasses, Joji started his Head In The Clouds 2021 performance with “Sanctuary.” The song, which was the first song released off of Nectar, features a fusion of electropop ballad with trap, soul, and R&B. Relentless, he continued to sing “YEAH RIGHT,” a lo-fi downtempo track released in 2018.
“Do you want a freestyle?” Joji cheekily asked the crowd. Upon hearing yes, he and the band’s keyboardist, Gator, started an impromptu piece on the piano about getting “all kinds of nuts.” The witty act was cut short as Joji proceeded with his slower songs: “Mr. Hollywood,” “ATTENTION,” “Ew,” and “Like You Do.” Between performances, Joji also threw gifts to the crowd with a giant rubber slingshot, aptly named “slingshot time.”
Haven’t Seen Enough
Joji continued the set with “Demons,” a ballad from his debut EP, In Tongues. The accompanying red lights mirror the giant furry red suit he wore in the music video. However, the somber mood quickly shifted as he prompted the crowd to guess the next song — the catchy, funk-infused “Can’t Get Over You.” It featured a solo by Gator on his red keyboard, properly hyped as Joji came to “examine him” on stage.
Under pink and orange LED lights, “Gimme Love” started playing. During the piano climax, the 2020 song was met with an all-turquoise ocean of audience bracelets, creating an imagery of a man stranded on a far-away island. Joji then performed “Your Man,” another upbeat track that pumped out the crowd. He also earned some cheers for performing a brief handstand in the middle of the song.
Slow Dancing in The Finale
“Your Man” ended quite abruptly; Joji threw a quick thank you as he stormed off the stage. Craving for more, the audience chanted, “Slow Dance! Slow Dance!,” referring to Joji’s biggest hit, “Slow Dancing In The Dark.” Racking up more than 281 million views on YouTube, it was no surprise that the crowd was anticipating the song. The ballad, which featured Joji as a dying satyr in the music video, was praised by many for its melancholic use of synths and Joji’s raw vocals.
Indeed, Joji returned with a laugh. He started with a stripped-down version of the song before going ahead with the original version. The crowd sang along without fail, screaming “In the dark!” at the top of their lungs. As the final act of the night, he sure ended Head In The Clouds 2021 with a bang.
What’s Next for Joji
Joji’s comeback at the Head In The Clouds 2021 stage garnered attention. Many fans and non-fans alike expressed their excitement upon seeing Joji. With live streams available online, audiences from around the world were able to witness his closing on the second and final day of the festival.
The excitement doesn’t end at the show. After Head In The Clouds 2021, Joji is set to perform in New York (November 12-13), San Francisco (November 20-21), and Los Angeles (December 9-10). The tour, dubbed NECTAR: THE FINALE, sold out in just a few days after its announcement. Without a doubt, Joji continues to amaze the world as an established musician.
Last night, Rich Brian closed the first day of Head In The Clouds 2021. Check out our coverage of his entire act here.
Thumbnail courtesy of Miranda McDonald and 88rising.