River High at O’Gara’s – dark, pop, 80s appeal

The last band in the back room at O’Gara’s had a 1980s sound – no wait – it was the 1980s. So I’m not sure how much that memory infused my take on River High but I was definitely getting some 80s sensibilities out of the band.

There’s a dark undercurrent to the music – the last album is entitled Blood and Darkness and they sing about blood quite a bit so there’s truth in the advertising. But there’s an underpinning to the sound as well – a drudging beat that moves the songs forward and a drone that gives it a pleasant finish. The dark gives the music a depth.

They play rock with a catchy chorus. There are four in the band – Joe Masanz (bass), Jason Anderson (drums), Justin Law (guitar and vocals) and Rena Rasmussen (vocals). I think they’re at their best when Law and Rasmussen harmonize. Their voices blend really well together. Rasmussen has an I-won’t-take-crap attitude on the stage that makes her fun to watch and a powerful voice. Masanz looks the part, he’s fun to watch as a performer and Anderson keeps the songs going with a strong beat.

It is hard to pin down the genre. It’s  high energy with catchy chorus. Some songs (like Red Canary) are very danceable, while some are more like ballads. Then there’s that 80s feel, which I think is a quirkiness that gives over to rock. It’s hard not to like a band with a song called K.I.S.S.

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