Just a few years ago, singer-songwriter George Miller was better known as his YouTube persona Filthy Frank, a slur-slinging figure for burgeoning incels to rally behind. Since then, he’s abandoned his original channel, allowing it to collect dust for the past three years. As a result, Filthy Frank has become Joji, a chart-topping singer.
“The Extravaganza,” a livestreamed event created by and starring Joji, sought to meld those two worlds together. The result is a lot of chaos and confusion, with just the slightest bit of fun.
The setup of the event was simple enough. In a digestible hour, Joji took the audience through multiple sets in a late-night show format. He initially came out on stage on a bicycle, looking very much like an off-brand version of Jimmy Kimmel: pinched suit, hair gelled and plopped to the side.
With every performance off of his new album Nectar, Joji attempted to be as entertaining as possible. The concept of each performance was definitely creative and meant to test the bounds of content creation in today’s livestreaming concert era. His skill as a singer was the night’s strongest aspect: His voice during each performance was nearly identical to how it sounds recorded on the album.
In an admirable feat, he performed the track “Sanctuary” while sitting in a carnival-esque dunk tank. Surrounding staff members lobbed balls at the tank’s target in hopes of drowning him. His live vocals were exceptional, smooth and honeyed, though mixed with the occasional expletive whenever someone threw a ball at him instead of the target. The staffers then brought out someone who looked like a professional baseball player to take Joji out of his misery mid-song, dunking him just as he was about to launch into a belting note.
For the most part, the performances were hit or miss and, overall, very sweaty. During his “Attention” performance, Joji sang in a massive horse costume, huffing and puffing and perspiring to finish the song. Viewers watched as he sweat through the song “Run” — while actually running. He switched from clumsily transcending monkey bars during the beginning of the song to actually running on a treadmill, begging for the song to be shorter.
In one of the more lackluster performances of the night, Joji was placed in a boxing ring during an ongoing match. As he sang “Pretty Boy,” he dodged the hits and kicks of a painfully choreographed fight that was awkward and hard to watch.
Joji even cooked eggs as he was surrounded by extraterrestrial beings waddling around onstage. Joji would quickly scream, “Where’s the salt?” before returning to singing, and the aliens in their spray-painted boxers instantly retrieved it for him.
Many of the event’s performances and interspersed comedic segments started off on a high note, and yet, by the end, they fell flat. Every performance was accompanied by a scarecrow, lovingly named Gator, “playing” the piano. Joji didn’t hesitate to remind viewers of this fact: “Look at this guy go! Holy s—!” he said at the end of what seemed like every song. Joji seemed to think that reminding viewers during nearly every performance would make the whole bit funnier.
In between his actual musical performances, he had various “talent show” segments with magicians or opera singers. During one, he had to kick a Justin Timberlake look-alike off the stage, repeatedly reminding him, “We can’t afford you.” Like the Gator bit, the joke was redone constantly and extended for far, far too long.
Even if Joji traded in his skin-tight pink suit from his YouTube days for a sanitized North Face vest, there’s a part of Filthy Frank that still remains. In his old persona’s deranged fashion, Joji ended the show with a quick celebration with his fellow guests. Then, he snapped, turning to “stab” someone and quickly running off the stage.
His YouTube claim to fame seems distant to the album-releasing version of him in the present. Only in events such as “The Extravaganza” has he shown those parts of him again, an homage to his old self. The event was chaotic, a noisy mess that was comedic, but it still prioritized the music. There’s more Joji than Frank, and Miller didn’t seem to mind.