However entertaining it may be to pass the days blaring your speakers while bouncing around your room, the soul of punk music has always been the live show. In their video for "Victory Lap," the first single off Underneath the Owl, Riverboat Gamblers go back and forth between the ennui of the tour bus and the glorious payoff of the eventual concerts. The too-cool-for-this stoicness which is the downfall of most indie shows is nowhere to be found here. Mike Wiebe throws himself around the stage while the kids throw themselves around the pit, in high contrast black and white, in streams of sweat and flashes of Converse-clad feet kicking out at odd angles. It's almost enough to make me want to throw on a Bouncing Souls tee and head over to the Warped Tour.
The Riverboat Gamblers rocked their way out of the university town of Denton, Texas, in September 2001 with the "Jenna Is a No Show" 7".
It's unclear how the vinyl sliver was able to effectively harness the sonic fury that the Gamblers' legendary UNT house party live act had become; nevertheless, an instant classic was born. A Tim Kerr-produced eponymous LP followed on Vile Beat; it poured a pint of whiskey on an already raging rock & roll fire. Led by the whooping vocals of Teko (Mike Wiebe), the band also featured guitarists Freddy Castro (Fadi El-Assad) and Colin Ambulance (Colin James), bassist Spider (Pat Lillard), and drummer Jesse 3X (Jesse Hamilton). Like their peers in the Catheters and Tight Bros from Way Back When, the Riverboat Gamblers reveled in flailing 1970s cock rock and cared little for subtlety. Despite rabid major-label interest (in part derived from a typically incendiary set at the 2003 South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas), the band signed with rawking indie powerhouse Gearhead, which quickly issued the Something to Crow About LP in June 2003. Extensive touring commenced in the summer of that year, logging time with MC5, Burning Brides, and Flogging Molly along the way. The Riverboat Gamblers signed with Volcom Entertainment in April 2005, spent time on the summer's Warped Tour, and released To the Confusion of Our Enemies in April 2006. By this time, Wiebe, Castro, and Lilliard were rounded out on guitar by Ian McDougall and, eventually, drummer Mark Baker. This lineup only lasted a few more tours, as by March 2007, while on the road with Against Me!, former Gorilla Biscuit Luke Abbey was enlisted to take over the drum kit. After a somewhat tame 2009 release titled Underneath the Owl, the group attempted a muscular return with 2012's The Wolf You Feed. ~ Johnny Loftus