How Joji got Filipinos slow dancing in the dark in his ‘Pandemonium’ concert

Vixey Lema

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How Joji got Filipinos slow dancing in the dark in his ‘Pandemonium’ concert
The crowd was hyped, ready to catch a glimpse of Japanese singer-songwriter Joji's intriguing personas

MANILA, Philippines – As the lights faded, the Araneta Coliseum echoed with cheers on Tuesday night, November 28. The crowd was hyped, ready to catch a glimpse of Japanese singer-songwriter Joji’s intriguing personas — be it Filthy Frank, Pink Guy, or just plain Joji — as he marked his first solo concert in the Philippines.

Most fans rocked all-black attire, while some stood out in Joji’s iconic Pink Guy morph suit.

Their eyes glued to the stage’s screens, the crowd exploded when Joji finally appeared. He was chill, sporting a laid-back outfit with a cap, gripping his mic like a boss.

JOJI. Vixey Lema/Rappler

Five huge podiums stood onstage, each claimed by a band member. The crowd was jamming, nodding their heads as the musicians flaunted their skills.

SavageRealm was on point with the buttons, “Gator” Isaac Sleator mesmerized with smooth piano melodies, Joshua Snow slayed the guitar like a hardcore metal star, and “The Bear” on drums pounded out rhythms with sheer intensity.

SAVAGEREALM. Vixey Lema/Rappler

GATOR. Vixey Lema/Rappler

JOSHUA SNOW. Vixey Lema/Rappler

THE BEAR. Vixey Lema/Rappler

Joji took center stage and shouted out to his fans, “Manila!” 

He dove right into “Sanctuary,” with the crowd singing along. Then, he delivered intense melancholic vibes that resonated throughout the venue with “YEAH RIGHT,” “NIGHT RIDER,” and “Will He.” Also included in his setlist were “Daylight,” “YUKON,” and “worldstar money.”

Joji’s music dives deep into heartbreak, betrayal, and all things love-related, making him the go-to sad dude. He blends heartfelt lyrics with lo-fi and R&B tunes, spicing it up with a mix of trap and EDM for that extra oomph.

JOJI. Vixey Lema/Rappler

Joji couldn’t stop being amazed by the Filipino crowd’s energy the whole concert through. He also gave a shout-out to Filipino food, saying it’s the best.

As he transitioned to his performance of “Pretty Boy,” he quipped, “Manila’s got a lot of beautiful people…. I know a pretty boy when I see one.”

A Joji experience wouldn’t be complete without some memes and cheeky jokes, which he threw in in between songs. His playful banter with SavageRealm also kept the energy up.

Capping off the first half of his set, he captivated the audience with his charming baritone voice in his performances of “I Don’t Wanna Waste My Time” and “Ew.”

Right when the audience expected more emotional tunes, Joji’s DJ set, Yebi Labs, turned the coliseum into a festival zone. Wearing balaclavas, they got everyone pumped with a mix of tunes from various artists.

Meanwhile, Joji leveled it up, throwing out free merch, inflatable balls, and some pool noodles into the crowd. As the beat hit hard, the smoke machine kicked in onstage, and the audience lost it.

Yebi Labs. Vixey Lema/Rappler

They then all returned to their podiums, reviving the energy for a few more tracks, including “Die for You,” “Like You Do,” and “CAN’T GET OVER YOU.”

Joji created a nostalgic moment with “Plastic Taste,” resonating with longtime fans, and ended the night on an upbeat note with “Gimme Love.”

As he walked down the podium after the song, the audience shouted “Joji!” and “Isa pa (One more song)!” They were not letting him leave without hearing the crowd favorites.

He didn’t let them down; he treated them to not just one but two encores with “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK” and “Glimpse of Us.”

In awe of the immense energy from the crowd, he called Manila the “greatest city in the world” as he officially closed the show.

Joji is set to wrap up his Pandemonium tour with his last two concerts, in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. – 

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Vixey Lema

Vixey Marie Lema is a digital communications specialist.