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Off with Their Heads/Riverboat Gamblers/Dead to Me: live in Denverlive in Denver (2011)
Reviewer Rating: 4.5
Contributed by: thepopeofchili-townthepopeofchili-town
(others by this writer | submit your own)
I am a huge fan of both Off with Their Heads and Dead to Me. When I learned they would be touring together I was thrilled. When I learned the Riverboat Gamblers would be joining them, I was a bit surprised. For one, there seems to be a great deal of crossover between Off with Their Heads’ and Dead to Me’s fanbases, and the Riverboat Gamblers are something else entirely. Two, I was under the impression that they were fairly popular, certainly moreso than the other two bands at least. I turned out to be about half-right, but we’ll get into that later.
Dead to Me were listed directly under Off with Their Heads on the show poster, with their name in the second-biggest font, so I was a bit surprised when they started setting up their gear as soon as St. Fall Apart left the stage. I had some reservations about the new lineup, as I was a huge fan of African Elephants, but those fears were alleviated as soon as they started playing. They were completely on point, and seemed to be having a great time. I've seen some videos that pointed to the contrary, but at least this night, Sam Johnson had no problem pulling off Jack Dalrymple’s vocal parts.
About halfway through their set, the band busted out a speedy new song called “Undertow” that landed their upcoming album at the top of my “Most Anticipated” list. My one complaint about their set is that I could have used more African Elephants in the set list. I understand them not playing the Nathan Grice-penned songs, but it would have been nice to hear “Modern Muse” or “Tierra Del Fuego”. Oh well. Technical difficulties set things back a bit, and caused the band to skip a couple songs on the set list (namely, “Ran That Scam” and “No Lullabies”). Still, they didn't let it phase them too much, and turned in perhaps my favorite performance of the evening, stealing the show.
The Riverboat Gamblers were up next. I wasn't very familiar with them, but I didn't mind the few songs I’d heard, so I gave then a shot. They definitely gave their all, and had a ton of energy. Their singer spent most of his time in the audience. The only song they played that I was familiar with, “On Again, Off Again” sounded just like its studio version, so I’m sure their fans loved it. Those fans were definitely a different sort of crew than the people who came to see Off with Their Heads and Dead to Me, and as such, a sizable chunk of the crowd left as soon as they were done playing. They were alright; I’ll give them a C+.
Off with Their Heads were up next. The band have always had a revolving-door lineup, but this was the first time I've ever seen them perform as a three-piece. It didn't really affect their sound that much, however. I’m not even sure a band like OwTH really needs two guitarists. They sounded just as tight as ever, and played most of the songs I wanted to hear ("Janie" was a notable exception. They skipped it, despite it being written on the set list). The crowd loved every second of it, with constant sing-alongs and intermittent stagedives, which I usually hate, but it added to the spirit of the event. The three bands on this tour seem to be friends, and having a great time.
The banner on stage all night featured all three band names (or their initials, rather). There doesn't seem to be any giant egos at play. While I might not be a huge Riverboat Gamblers fan, this show was still a great time. For a good 50% of the crowd, however, the night was just getting started, for as soon as Off with Their Heads stepped off stage, a giant group of us started to make the pilgrimage six blocks down to the late-night Elway/Mixtapes show.
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