Riverboat Gamblers: Austin's own swings from the rafters...literally

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We figured that most of the people packed onto the patio at Red 7 on Friday, March 16, were there to see seminal punks J Church. The SxSW Pocket Guide listed "special guests" as the act that would follow J Church, and we hadn't a clue as to who the guests would be.

The audience clearly had a clue, though, because when the "special guests" took to the stage, the crowd was shouting along to the song lyrics, pumping their fists, and enthusiastically flinging beer everywhere. The band was Austin's own Riverboat Gamblers, and the performance they were about to give was nothing short of a decadent punk rock spectacle.

While Riverboat Gamblers charged through their super high-energy songs, singer Mike "Teko" Wiebe put on a performance that even the infamous Iggy Pop may have a hard time matching when The Stooges play tonight at Stubb's. Wiebe never stopped moving -- racing from one end of the stage to the other, jumping off the drum riser, diving into the crowd to crowd surf, climbing on top of the monitors, and literally swinging from the rafters, and not in a way that looked remotely safe.

The first time Wiebe did it, he climbed atop the monitors, grabbed one of the bars that held up the patio tent, and swung across the rafters, monkey bars-style, all the way to the other end of the stage. The second time, he launched himself off the drum riser, grabbed hold of a rafter, and swung back and forth over the crowd. During the last song, Wiebe climbed up onto the rafter to the far left of the stage and hung upside down from his knees, where he stayed, singing red-faced through the final song of the set.

Did we mention that Wiebe was sick? Well, we'd have never known it from his performance, but he let the audience know."I'm sick tonight," Wiebe told the crowd. "I've got bronchitis, tonsilitis, and a touch of Down's Syndrome."

Someone in the crowd commented, "Oh my god, I wonder what the performance is like when he's not sick."

In addition to his explosive energy and kamikaze stage stunts, Wiebe had the best between-song banter we've heard all week.

"Bronchitis is for the birds," he said. 'I injected Vitamin B directly into my dick today."

Riverboat Gamblers will make another SxSW appearance tonight, at 6 p.m. at the Dew Music Festival at Town Lake. We don't recommend missing it. We bet it's gonna be through the roof. Or at least across the rafters.

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