The River High, hailing from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, has fashioned a sound being described as Northern Southern-tinged rock. The band plants one foot in indie rock territory and the other in americana, then delves both hands into the storehouses of classic rock and blues.
The River High’s lineup of Justin Law, Rena Rasmussen, Joe Masanz, and Jason Anderson came together in 2012 around their friendship and desire to combine different streams of rock music. The result is what it might sound like if the Civil Wars and Nirvana met up for a drink at a dive bar and decided to play Lynyrd Skynyrd on the jukebox.
Justin Law and Rena Rasmussen take a dueling vocal approach that blends their voices seamlessly, only to shift into trade-offs the next minute. Carrying the band’s vocal harmonies are Law’s fuzzed out and chiming electric guitar work and a swaggering rhythm section of Joe Masanz and Jason Anderson.
“We try to keep the attitude that we will play what we like, like what we play, and let the chips fall where they may,” Law says. “The River High is about the band as a whole, and it works because we all bring our influences to the table. We either find something we all like, or we duke it out until it feels like The River High.”
The River High’s diverse sound has been winning new fans in Minneapolis and St. Paul clubs like The Pourhouse, Driftwood, Cabooze, Inbound Brewco, and Fine Line Music Cafe, as well as Duluth venue The Red Herring. The band has also developed a reputation for adding an eccentric cover tune selection to their live sets, sometimes playing a song once and never again. Will it be a KISS’ “Rock and Roll All Nite,” but swung in 3/4 timing? An Aerosmith tune? Taylor Swift? Heart’s “Alone”? Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” with fuzzy guitars? All of these have happened. Rasmussen calls this “a fun setlist subplot for our fans.”
Local radio is also began taking notice in 2016. The River High has received airplay on the 93X Loud & Local Show, as well as being interviewed and featured on Barb Abney’s Go Local Show on Go96.
The River High’s first EP, the self-titled The River High, released in August of 2015. It includes the thumping singalong “And Then I Went,” the indie-rock groove of “Move,” the band’s wall-of-sound calling card “Down to the River,” the swinging soft-loud crowd-favorite “What the Sparrow Knows,” and the bombastic “Rhythmic Gospel.”
The River High is playing regularly in the Twin Cities as they work on material for their next album.