Run River North w/ New Dialogue - The Observatory 1/14/20
Photos and Review courtesy of Melissa Zhuang
Run River North
I wasn’t sure what to except when I drove down to the Observatory in Santa Ana to see Run River North. I certainly wasn’t expecting disco-ball jackets, crowds surfs, or the literal on-stage coffee break (no, really, I’m not lying).
New Dialogue stepped on stage and was greeted with whoops and cheers from a supportive crowd down to groove to something new. Not only did they play well, they dressed well. Ela Kitapci donned a shiny, multi-chrome mosaic blazer that simply dazzled the crowd and Taylor Morrow just felt right at home on the stage, comfortable enough to kick off his boots and jam barefoot. They played new songs and their biggest radio hits: “Fake Smile,” “Pilgrims,” “Neon Ocean,” and “Loose Ends.” The best way to describe their sound is a carefully blended mix of electro pop rock with elements of breezy folk. Ela and Taylor layer their voices together and it pops in and out between the drums and guitar. New Dialogue opened up the set with a bang, yelling into the mics, rousing the crowd, and banging their heads to the beat of the drums. (“It’s not a TED talk guys, you don’t have to be so quiet!”). Opening for shows that don’t know you is difficult, but these guys made it look so easy. I think if the crowd wasn’t such a big fan of Run River North they wouldn’t have let them leave the stage. Keep an eye out for New Dialogue, they’re onto some good stuff.
Now, onto Run River North. I have to comment on the stage set-up; besides the essentials: cables, instruments, mics, and keyboard they had set-up cloud deco just to add some visual personality to the stage. Previously named Monsters Calling Home, Run River North is a Korean-American band featuring Alex Hwang on vocals/acoustic guitar/official crowd communicator of the night, Daniel Chae on electric guitar/vocals, and Sally Kang on vocals/keyboard. Coming from a Korean Christian background, just like the church performances they attended in their youth, Alex had printed out cheesy-but-kinda-cute clip-art pamphlets of the events to take place that night. This is a band that loves crowd interaction and truly plays to the people. The very first song of the night was decided by the crowd and so “Lying Beast” was played. “Hands Up” came up (I definitely saw hands go up) and my personal favorite has got to be “I’m Amazing.” There was simply so much energy from the band. Alex took off his shirt not just to show off the work he had done (there were a couple yells of approval from the crowd), but also to create this sense of vulnerability; he was literally putting himself out there. Daniel was constantly groovin’ on the guitar, his face in a concentrated state of focus and Sally was calmly jammin’ to the side.
Now remember the pamphlet I mentioned earlier? This is where it pops back up again. In the middle of the set list, the words: “INTERMISSION: Coffee Break w/Band” and a clip art of a steaming coffee cup and movie ticket are stamped next to them. A lucky fan with a colored dot on their pamphlet was a given an opportunity to drink coffee with the band and chat for a couple minutes. Now this wasn’t just instant coffee poured into a styrofoam cup, this was freshly grinded coffee beans drip-brewed coffee. Turns out Run River North does more than just make music, they also roast coffee beans.
“It’s funny, we spend most of our time making music and the thing that makes us the most money is our coffee and t-shirts,” said Alex.
“Wake Up” and “Rearview” are quirky, catchy songs that made people move their bodies. “Casina” is one of those songs that you hear live and it sounds even better live because the band just makes the song come alive. Alex stepped off stage and continued to sing as he jumped and walked amongst the audience. There are no barriers between Run River North and the people they make music for.
“We ain’t got no money but we got lots of time
Come smell the roses, oh! Come take your time
Dead for a moment, set heaven on fire
Same life, same skin, wear it out, I hope it fits
The sun is coming up, I think it’s time to WAKE UP!”
Follow New Dialogue:
Spotify: @New Dialogue
Youtube: @New Dialogue
Facebook : @newdialogueband
Twitter : @newdialogueband
Follow Run River North:
Facebook : @runrivernorth
Instagram : @runrivernorth
Twitter : @runrivernorth