Live Review: RUNNING TOUCH @ 170 Russell, 12.10.18
LIVE at 170 Russell, Melbourne
12 / 10 / 18
Words by Claire Norman
170 Russell was buzzing with bass lines when Running Touch took to the stage last week.
Fast moving strobe lights entertained our eyes while local bird chirps took me back to the parks of my home in the North-East while he made the eager crowd wait for his appearance.
In order to the keep the rowdy, young crowd contained, Running Touch enlisted the support of two acts, Sÿde and Alta. Sÿde entertained with the dreamy pop electronica of their hits ‘Orbit’ and ‘Above the Clouds’ while the smooth layered voice and sound of Alta contrasted the heavy bass lines spilling off stage from their hit ‘Sentiment’ and new single ‘Figured Out’.
The crowd was excited and ready to spend their Friday with such an experimental producer like Running Touch, and made sure he knew it when he hit the stage and moved straight into ‘This Is Just To Say’. Despite being one of his first singles, released in 2016, it was well known and well received by the crowd.
Adorned with his trademark black paint strip across his eyes and face, Running Touch looked as if he was one of the cool cousins of The Incredibles’ family. Similar to the Incredibles, Running touch runs (heh) with an air of anonymity, making it difficult to know his real name and what he truly looks like. However, this was not a ploy to hide his identity, as Mr. Touch mentioned in an interview with Sydney’s Happy Mag, stating that this cover helps to remove “media out of the equation [and ensure there is a] focus on the music”.
Armed with a live band – from the other band Running Touch is affiliated with, Ocean Grove, who pose a very different sound to the one I was experiencing, as they are a metal/hardcore outfit – Running Touch’s songs came to life. Joined by a guitarist/keys player and a drummer, with Touch being the multi-instrumentalist that he is, dabbling with guitar, synths, beat pads, and keys, the live set was in another dimension to his recorded work. This was really evident in ‘Courtesy Of’ from his 2017 EP, A Body Slow. The hearty piano chords that control the song and guiding guitar were really alleviated in the live performance. This song certainly got the crowd moving and was soon accompanied by cryptic graphics around the venue on big screens. Whilst being enticing, the images had an enigmatic aesthetic, similar to Running Touch himself.
The screens then introduced us to ‘Lovely’, another hit track from Touch’s 2017 EP before moving into ‘What’s Best For You’, the first single released for Running Touch, a deep house track that certainly catapulted Dr. Touch into the music scene. At this point I realised that not only was Running Touch covering his eyes with paint, but the guitarist had covered his mouth, and the drummer was wearing what kind of looked like a wrestling mask to cover his face. These stylistic choices added to the essence of the night however made a lot of questions arise. Was the guitarist intending to channel Coachella vibes? Were they emulating the three wise monkeys and channelling their inner ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’? No one can be sure but I appreciated the aesthetic.
In a set that felt like it moved from strength to strength, Touch turned the ‘cool graphics’ notch up to level ‘ultra-cool’ for crowd faves ‘Equaliser’ and ‘Aubrey’. Easily the biggest party track on the EP, ‘Aubrey’ showed a funkier side to Running Touch with some great guitar lines at its core layered with jazzy synths that it’s hard to not dance to.
Running Touch then soothed the packed crowd into his final song, ‘My Hands’, released in August. This slow-building jam stuck with the audience like a raspberry seed in their teeth, a true climax of the gig, showcasing the talent of his fellow Ocean Grove bandmates. Despite having perhaps a darker sound that his previous work, the guiding piano chords support more open, honest lyrics.
Running Touch has had a huge couple of years and although he is shrouded in mystery, I know myself and many others will be running to uncover some new music in the future when the only direction for this multi-instrumentalist is upwards.