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Run River North // Live @ Brighton Music Hall // 4.8.16

Article and Photos by: Jessica Gorrell


Run River North broke all expectations of what the “stereotypical LA indie band” should be when they took the stage at Brighton Music Hall last Friday night. With their pants rolled in the typical LA indie style, and lead singer Alex Hwang with his long mane up in a bun, it was hard not to instantly assume the direction the rest of the night would take. But from the very first chord of the opening song, “Pretender,” it was obvious that Run River North came fully prepared to crush any previous notions of what the audience expected from the six-piece. As the night progressed, Alex let his hair down and a relaxed atmosphere settled throughout the venue, letting the audience know that they could kick back and just enjoy the show.


The six-piece, consisting of Daniel Chae (violin, guitar), John Chong (drums), Joe Chun (bass), Sally Kang (keyboards), Jennifer Rim (violin), and vocalist Alex Hwang, manages to create music that is not only filled with emotion, performed with passion, and received with open arms by their fans, but evokes thoughts and stirs up topics for discussion. One track played, “Foxbeard”, which was created long before Run River North was even called so, always raises questions according to Hwang: “In this song ‘Foxbeard’ there’s this word in there that gets people. I think it just pulls something.” He commented “The word is ‘glory’ and then when you add it to his name, is it a Christian thing? If you follow the song, and if you speak English, you’ll get that it’s actually about the devil”

In other performances of tracks like “Seven,” “Run or Hide,” and “David Robinson” (a track written for the NBA all-star), it’s obvious to see the passion that RRN put into both the music and the performance itself. In “Seven,” John Chong, whom Hwang lovingly refers to as “Mr. Music,” almost becomes one with his drum kit, using his own face as a means of stabilizing one of his cymbals. Whether it was to simply give off some type of effect, or he was truly becoming one with the music, doesn’t matter; it was passionate and bone-chilling as all hell.

But this passion isn’t limited to just incorporating facial elements to a single performance. “Beetle,” one of the band’s softer tracks, was arguably the most passionate performance of the night. So much so, in fact that Hwang had asked the audience to stay quiet so they could actually hear the track. “Could you guys just shut the fuck up for just one song.” He laughed “I mean that with all the love, by the way.”

Run River North truly does love their fans though. During the encore performance of “Growing Up,” the band had moved their mics to the center of the stage and had all sung together, giving off a very friendly “we-love-you-like-family” sort of vibe.

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Overall, Run River North is just one of those bands that can, on the superficial level, will be everything you expect… up until they begin to perform. They bring fire, passion, and the rawest of energies to each song they perform.

Set List:

  1.     Pretender
  2.     Seven
  3.     Excuses
  4.     Ghost
  5.     Run or Hide
  6.     Foxbeard (song from before they were Run RIver North)
  7.     David Robinson
  8.     Winter Wind
  9.     Beetle
  10.     Salt Pond (only on the vinyl)
  11.     Superstition
  12.     29
  13.     Anthony

14.  Encore: Growing Up

Jessica Gorrell
An obsession with all things related to music lead Jessica to study professional writing at the University of Massachusetts in Boston in order to pursue her dream of becoming a leading journalist on the music scene. When she's not busy writing prose or scouring the city for new acts, she likes to relax and play her guitar or shamelessly binge watch a TV show she's discovered.

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