By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Catching the Gamblers at Rubber Gloves almost certainly ensures a typical set from the crazier-than-you-could-ever-be punk rock act: jumping, flailing, stage diving, falling, moshing and all the other reasons the band made Spin's list of the 25 greatest live bands around in 2006. But the Saturday show at the Main Street Live stage might be a little different.
Hanging from the rafters is kind of tough when, y'know, there isn't a roof. But frontman Mike Wiebe says he's doing his best to come up with ways to bring the small-club energy to the band's bigger venue sets: "That's something I've never perfected," he says. "We're lucky that we've had to deal with the problem of playing larger stages, but it's really different. You have to think about it from the perspective of the people who are far away and aren't right there in the middle of a visceral club environment. It's more like theater, I guess, or watching a band on television. You've got to focus more on singing and hitting every note—which I can't really do—and not just jumping around and flailing."
It might not sound wholly compelling—at least not as much as the club shows tend to be—but anyone who saw the Gamblers almost steal the show while supporting The Toadies at the Palladium Ballroom in August knows that, even in a large setting, the band still manages to pack a punch. And, at this week's performances, Wiebe promises another treat: The band will be performing a few new tracks from its upcoming March release, Underneath the Owl, which Wiebe says is a little darker and more experimental than previous efforts—but not too much.
"It's not jazz fusion or anything," he says, "but we didn't want to release the same record again."
The onstage antics, though? They're not going anywhere.
"I'm doing pretty mundane stuff during my downtime," he says, describing his day-to-day life working at a bar in Austin. "So, onstage, everything just kinda comes out."