Featuring sibling and founding duo Christine Fink (vocals) and renowned singer/songwriter Orenda Fink, arguably be known for her stint in Azure Ray and for a solo career, along with Greg Elasser, Josh Soto and Eric Ohlsson, the Omaha, NE-based punk/soul/funk collective High Up can trace its origins to when its frontwoman Christine Fink would perform at local karaoke bars across Muscle Shoals, AL. As the story goes the first time that Orenda Fink caught her sister sing at nearby Sheffield, AL’s Old Town Tavern, Orenda was blown away by how Christine brought the entire house down. Several years later, Christine moved to Omaha to be closer to her sister Orenda — and Orenda began to see that no matter where her sister performed, the crowd turned into putty in her hands — with people lining up to buy her drinks, shake her hand or make requests of their favorite soul songs.
However, after a while Christine began to feel depressed and aimless as her life became an increasingly dreary shuffle between uninspiring minimum wage jobs and the thrill of her weekend performances wore off. One night, the siblings had a conversation about the future– particularly Christine’s future — and Orenda insisted that her sister should try to pursue a career in music, as performing for people was what made her the happiest.
After several discussions the Fink Sisters decided to start their own band with the premise that sonically speaking the project would draw from a variety of influences including Janis Joplin, Sam Cooke and the Muscle Shoals sound, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, The Velvet Underground — and doing so in a way that would showcase Christine’s soulful pop belter vocals and Orenda’s carefully crafted songwriting. The Finks then recruited Elasser, Soto and Ohlsson to further flesh out the project’s sound. And to my ears at least, the band’s sound as you’ll hear on their latest single “Two Weeks” off their soon-to-be released self-titled EP manages to sound like Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” but filtered through furious Muscle Shoals-meets James Brown funk, and a bit of ska for good measure. Adding to the fury behind the song, the song’s narrator speaks of a specific situation that should feel familiar to anyone, who has slaved at a miserable job — the ecstatic joy of telling your employer “Fuck you! I quit!”
And although the narrator admits that being broke and not knowing when you’ll see money sucks, being reminded of your dignity and self respect is a powerful thing — and that going out there without a safety net and risking everything to achieve your dreams is an admirable thing. Interestingly, the recently released music video follows a protagonist, who quits a miserable job to pursue a music career but in her own way, following her own vision.
The band will be embarking on a Midwest tour throughout February and March and it’ll include a stop in Austin for SXSW. Check out tour dates below.
02.10 – Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck * (tickets)
02.11 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown * (tickets)
02.13 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
02.14 – Maquoketa, IA @ Codfish Hollow Barnstormers * (tickets)
02.15 – Chicago, IL @ 1st Ward
02.16 – Lincoln, NE @ Duffy’s Tavern
03.14 – 03.18 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
* with Leopold & His Fiction