Run Dan Run (to NYC)

Run Dan Run is a Charleston-based, indie-pop trio: Dan McCurry on vocals and keyboard, Ash Hopkins on guitar, Nick Jenkins on drums.
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I first met Run Dan Run in Jackson, Mississippi in spring of 2007.  I was driving back to the film office from my lunch break, when I glanced at the Rainbow Co-op and saw three unfamiliar, stereotypically scrawny guys in jeans and thrift tees loping across the street. Because I didn’t recognize them right off, I knew they had to be playing somewhere that night.

A few hours later I headed to the tri-bar parking lot—WC Don’s was still struggling on at that point, Martin’s was in its post-rock, lame-jam era that sadly, continues till this day, and Hal and Mal’s was and is consistent as twenty years of always. I found the guys at Don’s. Most people stayed up front with the DJ and the bar, because at that point, Jackson’s music scene was in flux. Venues were in the midst of closing down or redefining themselves, and most of the tri-bar shows weren’t worth anyone’s time. That particular night, roughly ten people were willing to shell out $5 to get into the back room.  Fortunately for me, I was one of them.

Run Dan Run was promoting the (then) recent release of their first full album, Basic Mechanics. The technical precision of Nick’s drumming and the occasional, achingly pretty guitar bits reminded me of old Sunny Day Real Estate. Meanwhile, Dan delivered vague narratives of emotionally awkward experiences in his whispery tenor. Every once and awhile he veered slightly off-pitch, rendering his songs all the more heartbreakingly endearing. Other tunes were poppy and danceable, loaded with catchy hooks and looped keyboards. The show was so much fun that the next night I drove two hours to catch them again in Oxford.

Now with new songs, new arrangements of old songs, and a new EP (27 Coming Street), Run Dan Run is one of the busiest bands in Charleston. In addition to working with the Hearts and Plugs Art Collective that they helped found, thus far in 2009 Run Dan Run has managed two New York tours (funded by Dan’s full-time gig as a piano teacher), not to mention Nick’s other bands and solo work, his bevy of visual art pursuits and the Brooklyn-based marching troupe, Asphalt Orchestra, that he’s currently involved with. And the band played Ash’s wedding—which means, of course, that (in between tours, I guess), Ash got married.  I caught Run Dan Run last month at Lit Lounge. One of the show’s most interesting songs was the acerbic, low-fi “Anonymous Girl”—as yet, unreleased, so keep an ear out.

What follows is a bit of footage from that show, which was less straightforward than the Jackson show of yesteryear—even the songs I recognized were spookier, exploring minor keys and more intentional pacing. For a Q&A with the band, head over to The South Wing.

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