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[Herald Review] Saay's first concert, a 'Mise-en-Scene' of her music

R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her first solo concert in Seoul

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Dec. 18, 2022 - 19:13

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R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert "Mise-en-Scene" at Rolling Hall in Hongdae, western Seoul, on Dec. 15. (Choi Ji-won/ The Korea Herald)

For Saay, it was all about the coherent flow, whether it be her album, her music or her life. It was the same for her first gig "Mise-en-Scene" on Thursday night.

The show itself was a continuation from her second LP "S:inema." The night opened with the album's intro song "everything comes n goes" and the first track "Interstellar." After hyping everyone up with "Mind ur business," Saay turned down the music and spoke to her fans.

"I'm so nervous that I almost died there. This is my first concert bearing my name," Saay said to some hundreds of fans packed inside Rolling Hall. Rolling Hall is a live music hall with 27 years of history in Hongdae, western Seoul.

Making eye contact with her fans, Saay calmed her trembling voice and continued to address the crowd.

"The first and foremost intention I had in mind for this show was a well-organized narrative. After releasing my second full-length album, I wanted to tell a story that we could all empathize together -- from the old school to the new school and from my first LP to the second LP," she said.

Returning to her set-list, Saay ramped up the audience with "Sweet as Hell." The hall was splashed in bright pink, and the crowd jumped up and down to the groovy flow, all apparently in comfortable shoes -- a prerequisite from Saay for all participants of her concert.

The hall dimmed dark during the interlude, titled "Interluded: life is a beauty," the second interlude of her second LP. Before fans got used to the darkness, Saay threw in a bash with "Vodka & Lemon Shot," a electric R&B score from her first LP "Claasic" dropped in 2018.

R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert "Mise-en-Scene" at Rolling Hall in Hongdae, western Seoul, on Dec. 15. (Choi Ji-won/ The Korea Herald)

The concert felt more like a fan-gathering as the 30-year-old spoke freely about herself, from the obstacles she had to overcome to be here and the vulnerabilities that she still kept inside.

"I felt relieved after I dropped my second LP. I had so much to say. I was concerned about what I could talk about after I dropped my first LP. The second LP was supposed to come out instead of 'Feelosophy,' but back then, I'd felt I wasn't ready yet (for another full-length album)," Saay said.

She continued to speak about her recent release, "S:inema," which was unveiled two months ago in October.

"I feel we're all just the same people, and I'd thought about how I could deliver my own experiences in my 20s. I hoped it could console the listeners. If the first LP had been about telling my own stories, I wanted to get closer to people with the second one. I tried to fill it with relatable words that were easy to listen to," Saay said.

R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert "Mise-en-Scene" at Rolling Hall in Hongdae, western Seoul, on Dec. 15. (Choi Ji-won/ The Korea Herald)

The atmosphere took a tender turn with "Are & Be," a song from her 2020 EP "Feelosophy," which the artist explained was a song "solely written for my fans."

Up next were some softer tunes that took the audience on a time travel to Saay's earlier solo career, from "Love Drop" to "Fallin'" and "I'm Okay."

In between the songs, Saay spoke ever so naturally to the fans at the start of all her songs, giving small snippets into how the singer-songwriter had come to turn her experience into music. With eyes closed, it felt like Saay was speaking into the ears on a radio, cooing the audience on a cold winter night.

As a smaller venue, Rolling Hall brought Saay and her fans more close. She not only spoke directly with fans from the stage, but she signed a CD waving in the air, introduced a familiar fan to the audience and even sung "Cold View" on the spot at the request of the crowd.

Saay was also repaid with a surprise event during her debut song "Circle," as fans lit up the stage with the flashlights on their phones.

R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert "Mise-en-Scene" at Rolling Hall in Hongdae, western Seoul, on Dec. 15. (Choi Ji-won/ The Korea Herald)

Marking the night's halfway point was "Interlude: world gone crazy" during which Saay went back stage to get dressed up for the night's highlight -- the performances.

As much of a dancer as she is a singer and producer, her performances were one of the most anticipated parts of the night by her fans. Knowing this, Saay had prepared every element of the stage herself, including the choreography which she made herself from scratch, she'd said in a recent interview with the Korea Herald.

Spruced up in shiny and furry outfits, Saay was accompanied by dancers as she returned onstage. Building the energy in the room was "Talk 2 Me Nice," the title track of her second LP, which was followed by another new banger "Rocky" from the album, which had been inspired by the film of the same title. The night seemed to hit the climax with "Sh*t Makerrrrrrrr," which turned the gig into an EDM-like festival.

R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert R&B singer-songwriter Saay holds her solo concert "Mise-en-Scene" at Rolling Hall in Hongdae, western Seoul, on Dec. 15. (Choi Ji-won/ The Korea Herald)

Next giving a peek into her genre-bashing discography, she performed her hip-hop infused "A.M.A.F" and bass-heavy "Omega," both off her 2018 EP "Feelosophy."

As the show neared the end, a female fan spoke up from the audience.

"I was 18 years old when I first liked you, and I'm turning 30 next year," she said. The fan claimed to have first discovered Saay when she debuted in 2012 as EvoL, and added she'd even made a website under Saay's real name, Kwon So-hee, back then. Replying that she remembers the website, Saay turned silent, and fans shouted out, "Don't cry! Don't cry!"

Clearing her throat, Saay thanked everyone, and again shared a deeply-felt gratitude for everyone supporting and rooting for her, not just for her fans, but all the staff as well as her family and friends.

"It's been 11 years since I debuted, but this is my first standalone gig. Regardless of the show's size, I'm just so grateful. I'm not a perfect person, but I really gave my everything preparing for tonight," Saay said.

Ending the official set-list was the final track off the second LP, "S:perience." Saay wrapped up the night with two encore tracks, "Zgzg" and "Encore."

Setting her foot into the music scene as the leader of the girl group EvoL in 2012, Saay had a rough start to her career as EvoL disbanded in 2015 and she spent years writing songs for other musicians. She joined Universal Music Korea in 2017 and officially made her solo debut with her first single "Circle" in July the same year.