Slow Dancing in the Dark with Joji

On September 1, 2022, I had the privilege of attending Joji’s first show of his Smithereens Tour in Palo Alto. The concert was held at the Frost Amphitheater at Stanford University. My friend, Lupe Velazquez, and I had been anticipating this day for months beforehand. We had both gone to Joji’s Nectar Tour just a few months before in November and were stoked to finally see him perform his two new songs, “Yukon (Interlude)” and “Glimpse of Us.” While we were also a little bitter because he delayed his new album’s release date to November (meaning the setlist would pretty much be the same), neither of us would ever pass up on the opportunity to see Joji live! Here is how it all went down:

As we arrived at the venue, my eyes immediately drifted to the fans’ diversity of outfits and styles in the crowded lines. I was in awe of the many platform boots and glamorous makeup styles I saw. It was as if everyone had treated the concert as a fashion show, and I loved it! 

My friend and I stood in line to enter the venue for around 2 hours. Although the show was scheduled to start at 6:30, there seemed to be technical difficulties that had pushed back the time. Finally, around 7:30, the line began moving as the crowd began marching in. My legs were already tired, and my growling stomach had stripped my energy away. Regardless, my excitement allowed me to push through as my adrenaline kicked in and I stormed inside the large venue. 

My friend and I flaunted our tickets for the general admission pit as we ran down to the barricade. We scored a standing spot that was super close to the stage. The crowd was fully packed and people were already cheering as fans played Pokemon Go and Subway Surfers on their phones for everyone to see. I enjoyed the playful environment and got ready for the opening act, SavageRealm.

As SavageRealm marched onto the stage, the crowd went absolutely wild. He began chatting with everyone and played a few of his most popular, and explicit, songs. SavageRealm did an extraordinary job keeping the crowd engaged, especially when he divided the crowd up and made two chosen fans play rock-paper-scissors. His stage presence was phenomenal, and he was only the first opening act! As we cheered him off the stage, we waited for another 15 minutes or so until the next opener came along – Rei Brown.

Rei Brown immediately enchanted the audience with his singing and slow-paced songs. Not many people knew the words to his songs, but we enjoyed his presence nevertheless. After waiting for an even longer period of time, it was finally time for the performance we had all been anticipating: here comes Joji!

Joji stormed in as the flashing lights and loud cheers surrounded him. He immediately began jumping and hyping up the crowd until the only thing I could hear was screaming. After introducing the show, Joji started with the first song off his setlist, “Sanctuary.”

The entire show had everyone mesmerized. The visuals and lights corresponded with each song’s vibes and music videos. In between performing his many songs, such as “Pretty Boy,” “Gimme Love,” and “Like You Do,” Joji had many humorous breaks. For example, he stopped the show by delivering his UberEats order to the stage, throwing several tour t-shirts into the crowd using a catapult, and even interacting with a professional look-alike of Captain Jack Sparrow. Joji did an amazing job putting on a show and entertaining the crowd. My favorite part of the concert was near the end when he finished performing “Slow Dancing in the Dark” and walked off the stage. The crowd began cheering, “One more song!” as we were all expecting him to perform his recent popular song. I was fully convinced that the show was over. As I began to accept the end of the concert, Joji walked back on and yelled, “You thought it was over!” Flabbergasted, the crowd screamed and got ready to sing along with the official last song of the night, “A Glimpse of Us.” This was the first time he had performed this song live. What an honor I had to witness it! 

Once the show finally ended, my friend and I hunted down the shortest merchandise line so we could buy the newly-designed tour shirts. The second I bought the shirt, I knew I would wear it to school the next day as I’d flaunt my fun night and wallow in my post-concert depression.

Joji maintained a positive atmosphere from start to finish and put on the best show his fans could ask for. He engaged and connected with the audience throughout his many songs, jokes, and acts. If you get the chance, I highly recommend seeing Joji live, as you will be blown away by his incredible stage presence!