Riverboat Gamblers / Off With Their Heads / Dead to Me at the Record Bar

cover-rbg-owth-dtmIt’s a rare occasion that I’m glad to choose one show over another, but it appears last night, I made a wise choice. I’d originally planned on seeing Cinderella at the Crossroads, but passed, due to a 45 commute in a pickup with no AC.

The Record Bar was a far better option, especially as my friend Christine was driving. Driving in her AC-laden car, I might add. Then I hear Cinderella canceled. Punk rock triumphs over hair metal yet again.

img_0122The guys in the Riverboat Gamblers are stick-thin. I can’t imagine the caloric intake required to sustain the level of energy they maintain onstage, but it has to be massive. The instant “Kiss Kiss Kiss” kicked off, they were in motion. At their slowest, lead singer Mike Wiebe might just bounce up and down behind the mic stand while the rest of the band bops alongside him, but there’s still a frenetic undercurrent behind their sound.

Still, it’s when the Gamblers’ craziness in such entertaining “Neil Diamond shit” demonstrates itself by Wiebe climbing tables, ruffling hair, and leading singalongs (as done on “Smash and Grab”) that the people get what they came to see … well, ostensibly. Off With Their Heads had about double the crowd, seemingly making them the real draw. Then again, the Gamblers did play about an hour later than advertised, meaning a lot of folks may have skedaddled due to work this morning.

img_0120Off With Their Heads went over time, and did I care? No. Of course not. They played “I Am You,” meaning I can count it as the one song I’ve gotten to hear every time I’ve seen them. It’s a goddamn rare thing for an act to play your favorite song each and every performance you see, so I count myself as a lucky son of a bitch that the Minneapolis three-piece (augmented to four with their friend Vic) knocks out that gruff-and-ready punk number.

Last night was the third time I’ve seen OWTH in the past year, and I’d love to be able to see them play every weekend, if I could. Their dystopic lyrics are fueled by an amazing amount of energy, and watching them play is an absolute joy. They throw themselves into performance with an enthusiasm that is awe-inspiring when you realize they do it night after night.

img_0116Dead to Me introduced themselves as hailing from “San Francisco, the greatest city in the world.” While that might be hyperbole, it certainly isn’t to say that the band’s set last night far exceeded last year’s performance at the Jackpot in Lawrence. Whether it was the crowd, who knew when to shout and sing along at all the right points, of the fact that there was witty banter to spare (witness a screed against the Catholic church before a new number wherein frontman said he’d put his dick anywhere he chose), but their Record Bar set was a primer in anthemic, fist-pumping punk rock.

img_0110In the interest of brevity, I’m just going to describe both bands who opened in terms of other bands. The Humanoids, a St. Louis five-piece who literally joined the tour last night, would’ve been Kid Dynamite, had their songs been shorter (faster, louder). Their singer had Jason Shevchuck’s voice exactly, almost to the point of the group seeming to be a None More Black cover band … not that it’s a bad thing. They recently signed with Paper + Plastick, making them the second Midwest signing to the label in recent months (OKC’s Red City Radio just released The Dangers of Standing Still on the label), and while it’s not out yet, grab their debut, Are Born from them at a show. It’s only $5, and is worth it for the closer, “Targets,” alone.

img_0109Local openers Bulletproof sounded something like Agnostic Front’s Roger Miret fronting the U.S. Bombs. Their singer flung himself all over the stage with such fervor, his mic cable knocked over his can of PBR. Twice. Fun stuff, if a little difficult to differentiate between songs.

Apologies for the shitty iPhone pics. I didn’t want to haul the DSLR, and the point-and-shoot’s batteries were dead, with no time to swing by anywhere that carried AAs for less than their weight in gold.