(NOTE: This is the second in a series of entries that take a look at local musicians hitting a national stride this Spring.)
(Riverboat Gamblers frontman Mike Wiebe crowdsurfs during a recent in-store at Waterloo Records. You read that right: I took this photo at a record store.)
The biggest difference between the Riverboat Gamblers and pop/punk sensations like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance? A major label deal. Otherwise, they share some of the same polished and precise punk colors. Oh, and the Riverboat Gamblers actually rock hard. With hooks sharp and fast, they go fishing for melody and come back winners. The recently released LP, To The Confusion of Our Enemies, is a pop/punk classic that would make both Bad Religion and Blink-182 proud. You heard it here first.
They’re from Denton (outside Dallas), but the Riverboat Gamblers now call Austin their home. And, with tunes as catchy and fierce as “True Crime” and “Don’t Bury Me I’m Still Breathing,” it’s any wonder they didn’t rear themselves in Southern California. The tunes are summertime-sunny, anthems for skateboarders, surfers, and the punks who hate both.
The band has a buzz that only grows with every performance. So much buzz that in a recent Rolling Stone piece covering SXSW 2006, David Fricke highlighted the band as a major stand-out. Plus, IFC followed the band around for their TV special, SXSW: Behind the Badge. So, yes, the band is finding bigger audiences every day. When will you see what others have seen?
It’s undeniable that the Riverboat Gamblers put on an amazing punk-rock performance. Lead singer Mike Wiebe has the kind of charm (and the flexible bones) that only lasts a few years, if lucky. So, do yourself a favor and see them live.