Riverboat Gamblers Cross Borders, Win Hearts

Denton, TX’s Riverboat Gamblers surely know how to reel ’em in. A motley crew of young teens, aged punks and scads of inconspicuous twenty-something males gathered at Vancouver’s Croatian Cultural Centre — a place where pop and chips are more prevalent than overpriced liquor — to sweat their Tuesday night away (March 27). Sharing the bill with Fake Problems and Against Me!, Gamblers frontman Mike Wiebe cracked a grin and launched his band into a relentless hour-long honest-to-gawd punk show. Wiebe prowled through songs such as the ’50s-era prom ballad “On Again/Off” and the Van Halen-tinged rocker “Wastin Time” with a kind of calculated recklessness — his bandmates must have training in the Zen art of avoiding a swinging microphone). And though they’re on the Volcom label and were regulars on Vans’ Warped Tour, there’s were no signs of pop punk here, If anything, Wiebe’s lanky ‘do and low rumble recall a Stooges-era Iggy Pop — without the glass and peanut butter, of course.

When referring to the band’s home state of Texas, which his band was now several thousand miles and one border away from, Wiebe was thoughtful: “The good, the bad, the ugly,” he said, before blasting into “True Crime.” “Some of that is true, some’s not. Here’s a song about Texas.” KAITLIN FONTANA / PHOTOS BY ALAN STREMEL

>> Listen to Riverboat Gamblers on Napster

We asked: Whether on a riverboat, or on land, what’s the biggest gamble you’ve ever taken?

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