Run River North Impressed in Venues Big and Small
The best rock concert Run River North guitarist Joe Chun ever saw was his first. He will never forget Coldplay in July 2009 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
“I was blown away by the production and the energy of the band and the audience,” Chun recalls. “Chris Martin was, and is, an amazing frontman backed by a very talented band. There was never a dull moment in the show. It was one huge dance party.”
Chun, one of six members of Los Angeles-based Run River North, which released its debut album last year, points to a White Denim show last year In Boulder, Colo., as the most influential.
Each member of White Denim “is a master at their craft,” says Chun, whose band first broke nationally on the Jimmy Kimmel Live TV show. “Their chemistry was unbelievable, and everything they played was very tight. Watching them inspired me to never put boundaries on my parts and our sound as a whole.”
Alex Hwang, Run River North’s lead vocalist and guitarist, says Damien Rice performed the best folk concert he has ever seen. It was at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, a former coffee house that accommodates about 200 people, in October 2012.
Hwang hadn’t previously seen Rice and had become a fan after hearing “Blower’s Daughter” from the film Closer.
“I used to cover his songs in cafes, and he influenced a lot of my guitar playing and songwriting,” Hwang says. “Then he took an indefinite hiatus from music after his second album, so it became impossible to see him. Then, after six years of staying silent, Nic Harcourt was able to get him to perform at The Hotel Cafe.
“He played with absolutely no ego.” Hwang remembers. “He sounded and performed exactly like his recordings. But he was actually there and close enough where I could stop his guitar playing if I wanted to. There’s a level of vulnerability and intimacy at the Hotel Cafe. The venue works best if you’re the right artist and you have the right crowd. The cover was $10, I think, and it was an experience that cannot happen again.”
The folk concert that has influenced him most as a musician, though, happened recently. The magical voices of First Aid Kit were mesmerizing at the Wiltern in Los Angeles in November, he says.
“I’ve been listening to their albums for a bit, and this was the first time seeing them live,” Hwang says. “It’s always amazing to see musicians that can sing just as good or better than their recordings, and these sisters definitely are more than amazing.
“Not only were their vocals seemingly effortless and on point, but their musicianship and stage presence was professional and engaging. They also genuinely looked like they enjoyed every minute. At one point, they unplugged their instruments and sang a song completely a cappella—a difficult task for that room, especially with an L.A. crowd. However, they were able to pull it off with everyone quiet and completely captivated.”