UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

3-4-24 PDF
March 4, 2024
2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Run River North: Anything But Typical


At a Run River North show, you can rest assured that if you’re moving and dancing, you aren’t the only one. Read Managing Editor Emily Boyd’s piece on a recent Run River North show.

Run River North commands the stage from the moment they step foot through that backstage door at Brighton Music Hall to the tune of the theme song from Jurassic Park. At first glance, they look like the stereotypical indie-rockers with their pants rolled up in the style of the hip LA scene that they come from. However, only a few notes into their opening song, “Pretender,” and it’s obvious that they’re anything but what you’d expect. At the start of the show, singer Alex Hwang let his long hair down from its usual man-bun, indicating that this would be the kind of concert to let your hair down, relax, and enjoy yourself.
Run River North is a six-member band featuring Alex Hwang on lead vocals, Daniel Chae on violin and guitar, John Chong (a.k.a. Mr. Music) on drums, Joe Chun as the bassist, Sally Kang on keyboards, and Jennifer Rim also on violin (they do move in herds!). All of the members of Run River North are incredibly talented and play more than one instrument—and spoiler—Jennifer also plays guitar for their performance of “Anthony.”
Alex’s voice is an instrument good enough on its own, but it is complemented by the immense talents he has surrounded himself with. Jennifer on violin is the fire to Sally’s ice cool performance on the keyboard. One of the strengths of Run River North’s music is the balance of all of these instruments, highlighting each when necessary, but never overpowering each other.
John Chong on drums is a performance art in and of itself. Typically the drums are centered in the back of the stage, but for Run River North, being anything but typical, they bring their drummer up front on stage left. As soon as John begins playing it answers the questions people might have about the curious stage set-up. Chong brings an energy that deserves to be showcased and appreciated. During the second song, “Seven,” it is clear why John is referred to as Mr. Music, as he uses his face to stabilize the symbol’s reverberation. In doing so, John creates a strange sense of intimacy with the drums which are otherwise a more violent instrument.
Throughout the performance, Alex intertwines telling stories with the music, but being good at both only makes sense for songs which are stories in lyrical form when done right. In that sense, Run River North is able to provide musical entertainment, but with the added promise of a good story behind that music that they have created. Despite providing a portion of backstory to their music, Alex made the concession, “When you write a song it stops being yours.”
Alex introduced one of their songs: “In this song ‘Foxbeard,’ there’s this word in there that gets people. I think it just pulls something. The word is ‘glory’ and then when you add it to ‘his name,’ [people ask] 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.”
Preceding the performance of “David Robinson,” Alex reveals that the song is not a metaphor, it’s just a song about David Robinson—yes, like the one from the NBA. Alex added this about David Robinson: “He just seems like a really nice guy, so I just want him to be in my life somehow. So I hope you guys like David Robinson as much as we do.”
Maybe you don’t jump around when you go to shows. Sometimes it’s because no one else is moving, so you don’t want to feel strange. However, at a Run River North show, you can rest assured that if you’re not moving and dancing that you’ll be the only one.
Alex brings up one of the points that they are asked in interviews and at shows, “We always get asked what it’s like being Korean-American.” Certainly, with their talent, no one will be asking where they came from as much as they will be wondering where they’re going. Alex hopes they get to a point when that question is no longer asked; meanwhile, we are all greedily asking for more Run River North.
Set List:

  1. Pretender
  2. Seven
  3. Excuses
  4. Ghost
  5. Run or Hide
  6. Foxbeard (song from before they were Run River North a.k.a. Monsters Calling Home)
  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