Saturday, March 26, 2016

Run River North delivers good show, brings needed update to the Asian-American experience

Posted By on Sat, Mar 26, 2016 at 2:27 PM

THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND

How do I not make this too ethnic and meta? Fuck it, here goes.

click to enlarge Run River North at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Run River North at the Social
Run River North (March 24, the Social) is a six-member L.A. band constituted entirely of Korean-Americans. The Asian storyline is inevitable. And then there’s me, a card-carrying Asian-American myself, who’s now filtering it. Add everything up and it all feels pretty loaded. But I’m gonna run with it because us Asians have relatively little occasion to do so, and this group is a highly unusual situation.

click to enlarge Run River North at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Run River North at the Social
Asians aren’t the biggest minority group in America and are, by now, assimilated well enough to not shock the optics any more. But there’s something particularly conspicuous about Run River North. To see an all-Asian group not based in Asia that’s not a self-parodic marketing gimmick (thanks, Far East Movement) is glaring in its own way. They could easily pass for one with their eugenic looks – I saw at least four members onstage that my girlfriend would leave me for – but they’re an earnest band, and a pretty good and accomplished one at that.

click to enlarge Run River North at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Run River North at the Social
Instead of the usual genres in which Asians have historically distinguished themselves, Run River North deals in youthful, elegant indie pop with folk and chamber leanings that’s in line with acts like Of Monsters and Men, Radical Face and the Lumineers. Live, they’re much more rock, which suits me even better. It’s a sound and aesthetic that’s got immense commercial appeal in a way that’s neither cheap nor trips the gag reflex. Everything they do is with exceptional verve and precision, and they delivered a substantial and enjoyable show. And even if their middle-left sensibility’s too vanilla for you, you gotta give the drummer credit for the Death From Above shirt he wore onstage here.

click to enlarge Run River North at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Run River North at the Social
As perhaps little as being in the middle represents artistically, it means something considerable socially. Although the band itself is an ethnic phenomenon, their sizable following isn’t. From what I could see at this show, I was one of only a few Asians in attendance.

click to enlarge Look, Ma, no Asians - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Look, Ma, no Asians
What all this equals is something that shatters a good deal of the stereotypes I grew up with. And, personally, maybe I finally see some kids who are like-faced mainstream images that don’t make me facepalm.

click to enlarge Run River North at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Run River North at the Social
Opening was Richard Sherfey and All God’s Children. They’re a local band studded with seasoned musicians who lent all the wingspan of the American trad-rock circles they’ve run in for years. But the word of their gospel-thick Southern rock was really delivered by frontman Sherfey himself, who moved around the stage and club like a wino preacher. Whether it’s the Holy Ghost or just the spirits (I have my own ideas), it kind of doesn’t matter. So long as he was riding glory, and he was.

click to enlarge Richard Sherfey & All God's Children at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Richard Sherfey & All God's Children at the Social

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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.

Follow Bao on Twitter (@baolehuu)
Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com



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