Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Some of us might be numbed to much of the rottenness or mythical/professed end of times, but the Riverboat Gamblers are right there to slap us broadly across our faces, producing the same effect as tearing us from deep sleep in our snug and warm beds and tossing us into winter season lake. They won't let us take this lying down - even if there's nothing that can be done to fix any of the messes or clean up any of the droppings that have been so carelessly left behind. The song, "Prophetic Visions Of The Coming End Times," - released only on a split 7-inch vinyl with Andrew W.K. last year - is like a house or a car, doused in barrel after barrel of gasoline that's been lit on fire. The four-piece of buds from Denton, Texas (now calling Austin, Texas their home) are there dancing around that car or house, watching it become so far beyond recognition in just moments, with the flames taking off in a rush, spewing orange and yellow venom, like spit and vulgarity, a devil's cackle. Lead singer Mike Wiebe, as if the wind's shifted directions and is now pushing the smoke directly into his tender eyes or some of that slobbery venom is getting all over his face and clothing, sings as if slightly resigned to the idea of the world going to shit, while doing it with his less agitated and stirred up voice. He sings, "This is truly the end times/Let's live like it is/Let's live like it is/Now here comes our final bow/Now here comes our curtain call/Can you feel it?/I won't try and I won't fight/Not this time," and he mentions briefly, that life rarely gives us what we need to get by. It makes everything seem pretty bleak and rough, but the gloriousness in a Riverboat Gamblers song is the ability to be caught up in the stings and the burns, but still feel as if there's a party, some crazy, destructive-but-good-hearted kegger going on inside. The band has been working for over 13 years now, churning out these high-octane anthems of rebellion and often, disgust in times and it's easy enough to just get lost in the guts of these songs - punctuated by authentic anger and dramatic tension that casts urgency across all of it. Wiebe sings to us, poignantly, about these days - these days of the locusts. We can either take them sitting down or get eaten all the same, but with the gasoline and the matches in our hands. Somehow, neither is a great option, but the distinction can only be made if there really are any options at all.