THE RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS – by peter soyer
Who cares about the Riverboat Gamblers? Who cares about rockers from Denton, TX, who spend almost as much time in the emergency room as they do on stage? Who cares that their bassist, Pat Lilliard, broke his front teeth when his face connected with a flying microphone? Who cares that they canceled a load of tour dates because Lilliard’s face was too swollen for him to move? Who cares that the gamblers have recouped and are off to Europe in February to kick some euro ass? I do. When a band puts this much raw energy into everything they do, there will undoubtedly be injuries, but no one expected a microphone to decimate Lilliard’s pearly whites. Gearhead Records, the gambler’s current label, said that 30 percent of all the band’s live shows end with at least one member in the ER. I’d like to see an episode of ER where wiry punks come in half drunk, bleeding from the mouth holding shards of shattered teeth in their sweaty hands. Major injuries aside, the gamblers have been heaving balls of solid rock at crowds since their formation in 1997. What started as a party scene circuit of shows has turned into a continent-to-continent barrage of rock. After cutting their teeth (pre-microphone) the gamblers ventured out from their meager Texas town and were picked up by Washington D.C.’s Vile Beat Records. Tim Kerr produced their self-titled debut in 2001 and the gamblers were underway to winning the heart of America. Two years later the gamblers teamed with Kerr again for their second release on the other side of the states with San Francisco’s Gearhead Records. The Riverboat Gamblers have taken the balls-out aggressiveness of eighties punk (Black Flag, Butthole Surfers) and melded it with a garage rock sound that every other band wishes they had. From the Misfits to Rancid to The Hives, the gamblers have all the right influences floating under their music. Punchy four chord progressions and cranky bass lines thrust together under harmonized screams while the listener gets a taste of what great songs sound like. Every song from their short catalogue sounds like they are making it up as they go with everyone building on what the others are doing. They have made an art of putting a party into each song. This is how punk and garage used to be. Chaotic. Reckless. Uncontrollable. Flawed. Imperfect. Amazing.