Of all the shows I’ve been to, this was the most intimate and sincere performance I’ve been lucky enough to experience.
To close off the US leg of his ‘OO-LI And’ tour, WOODZ landed at Kings Theatre, New York.
WOODZ, also known as Cho Seungyoun, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer, and producer. Needless to say, he’s a multihyphenate.
My conversion from a casual listener to a fan was quite immediate. I can’t imagine anyone else not becoming a fan, whether it be of his music or his captivating on-stage presence, after seeing him live. From the moment he entered the stage with “Busted,” his confident and alluring energy flooded the theatre.
WOODZ wasted no time in pumping up his fans as he showcased his powerful vocals through this punchy rock track. In “Busted,” the still compression of his voice expands, eventually climaxing beside the escalation of a heavy beat. This culmination expresses the aching realization that his lover’s feelings were ingenuine. The track continues in this pace, heightening tension and then releasing in explosion, another time with a cathartic rap.
Despite the emotionally painful lyrics, the energetic beat invigorated the eager audience. Many could relate to this experience of frustration and betrayal, screaming along with the built up anger that comes with heartbreak. WOODZ’s songwriting is largely built upon these poignant expressions of yearning and foolish love.
There were countless moments that set this show apart from others, one of them being the extensive 22-song setlist that featured just about his entire discography, song requests, a preview of the now released “AMNESIA,” and a personal cover unique to his New York show.
After highlighting his bright high notes through “WAITING” and “Chaser,” WOODZ spent time interacting with the audience, greeting them with a gentle demeanor that exuded sincerity. It was clear that he was very present in the moment, carefully reading fans’ handmade banners and responding as they freely expressed how happy they were to show their love and support for him and his music.
Following the banter, he welcomed us to guess what song he had prepared for us. Fitting with the spirit of the holidays, WOODZ gifted Michael Bublé’s “It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” effortlessly making a rock show feel warm and cozy.
“Look at the tree,” he said, shyly pointing towards one to the side of the stage, carefully adorned with ornaments. Fans would later make the connection that WOODZ had handpicked the tree earlier that day to decorate the stage with. Seeing how much care and time he put into the show made it all the more meaningful for the audience.
Continuing his expression of gratitude towards fans is “Multiply,” an all-English-language love letter dedicated to his international fans. The light and comforting melody invited us to sway and sing along, creating a confectionary duet between WOODZ and his audience, “Wanna be by your side / Let the world know you're mine / I love you a million times / Loving you multiplied.”
“ABYSS” followed after, a slower ballad that is absent of distraction. Instead, his vulnerability speaks directly to listeners. Beside the shimmering riffs of an electric guitar is his longing to be understood while conflicted in his right.
The setlist traversed many of WOODZ’s earlier alternative r&b songs too. “DIFFERENT” was released in 2018, and many fans could hear the evolution of his sound amongst the newer tracks of OO-LI, which have a stronger rock influence. Much like in his other songs, WOODZ confronts the inevitable reality that he and his lover can’t be together. Their differences are unavoidable, carrying a greater force than their love.
From start to finish, this show proved to be uniquely Cho Seungyoun. It felt so fulfilling and satisfying to experience such a generous setlist accompanied by personal interactions and preparations. His charisma, artistry, and clear passion for performing channeled throughout the entire show, elevating his already enticing sound and creating a production unlike any other.
Setlist (my favorites in bold)
- Love Me Harder
- Who Knows
- Dirt on my Leather
- SUN OR SUCK
- Kiss of Fire
- FEEL LIKE
- I hate you
- BUMP BUMP
- Hope to Be Like You
- Ready To Fight