DS Show Review & Gallery: The Riverboat Gamblers, The Mizzerables, The Figbeats, Wrong Life and Publicity Stunt celebrate The Kinks (Chicago: 12/17/2022)

Before this show started, Dr. Daryl Wilson of The Bollweevils aka The Punk Rock Doc, introduced me to Mike Wiebe of The Riverboat Gamblers as “the best front man in punk.” Coming from Wilson, a magnetic front man himself, this is high praise. The Riverboat Gamblers headlined a Reggie’s Rock Club, with support from The […]

Before this show started, Dr. Daryl Wilson of The Bollweevils aka The Punk Rock Doc, introduced me to Mike Wiebe of The Riverboat Gamblers as “the best front man in punk.” Coming from Wilson, a magnetic front man himself, this is high praise. The Riverboat Gamblers headlined a Reggie’s Rock Club, with support from The Mizzerables, Wrong Life, The Figbeats, and Publicity Stunt on December 17, 2022, and proved, again, Wilson knows of which he speaks.

The evening was more than just a regular Saturday night show. It was also a Zuma livestreamed celebration of the release of Starstruck: A Tribute to the Kinks. The album, from Wicked Opossum Records, showcases bands covering some of the Kinks’ most important and popular songs. This includes the five bands on this night’s bill. As the Kinks at Nassau Coliseum (during its “Come Dancing” hit song era in the 1980’s) was my first rock concert, this was especially nostalgic for me.


Mike Wiebe is, indeed, a dynamic frontman. The Riverboat Gamblers, comprised of Wiebe, Fadi El-Assad, Ian MacDougall, Rob Marchant, and Sam Keir, put on an electrifying performance. Wiebe was non-stop from the first note, climbing down from the stage, climbing up a side bench-like area to the side of the floor, Crowd surfing, and crouching down with fans only to have them all jump up in unison. On stage, he repeatedly jumped around and tossed the microphone in the air and twirling the cord like a lasso. He did not always catch the mic but that did not put a hitch in his step or cause a missed note. The rest of the group kept the music pulsating just as vigorously as their bandmate’s movements. The set list included: “Let’s Eat,” “Don’t Bury Me…I’m Still Not Dead,” “The Curse Of The Ivory Coast,” “Blue Ghosts,” “DissDissDissKissKissKiss,” and “A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology.” The band’s cover of “Father Christmas” was appropriately timed, even if the lyrics evoke a mood the polar (pun sort of intended, sort of not) opposite to the mood expressed by Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime. This is NOT a bad thing.


The Mizzerables released their record Whatever…This Sucks and then the pandemic hit. And things definitely did suck for a while for obvious reasons. It also prevented the band from touring in support of the record. Finally Joe Mizzi, Korey Brisendine, and Dave Vazzano are able to take to the stages to perform the infectious gem of a title tune and others off of Whatever…This Sucks and their other releases.

Mizzi and Vazzano were amped up at this show and Dan “Dan Precision” Wleklinksi (88 Fingers Louie) filled in last minute for Brisendine who, unfortunately, had fallen ill. The trio performed quite energetically, as they punched through a set including the aforementioned title tune, “Better Off Dead,” “FKI,” “Crabby Crab,” “Still Kickin’ ‘Round,” and a cover of Green Day’s “Basket Case.” The band also led a rousing edition of its contribution to the Kinks’ tribute album, “Lola.” If Mizzery (there are so many possible word plays on Joe Mizzi’s surname) loves company, surely The Mizzerables were as smitten with the crowd as the crowd was with them.


The Figbeats, a garage punk band out of Valparaiso, IN, are comprised of Brad Skafish, Felix Baeza, Jim Senderhauf, and Adam Hazlett. The group’s fizzy performance was quite welcome as it ripped through “Ultraviolet,” “Your Ghost,” “Bootstrap Paradox,” “Radio Killed Radio,” and “Phillip’s Lament.” Covering “Apeman” for the tribute album, The Figbeats dialed up the verve for a fun take on a classic.


Scotland’s Fraser Murderburger, formerly of The Murderburgers, now plays under the name Wrong Life. His intense, hard-driving vocals and guitar playing, backed by strong musicians (including Noelle Stolp of Tightwire) resulted in a powerful set that included “Talking/Talking,” “Digging,” “19 11 19,” and “New Sun,” all from Early Workings From An Idea (2022). Wrong Life’s contribution to The Kinks tribute album is “Strangers,” which was performed very solidly this night. Wrong Life might be in the early stages but is working from a great idea. Even greater ones no doubt on the horizon.


Publicity Stunt, another group on the bill hailing from the Hoosier state, is also where you will find Mike Paniccia, the founder and sole employee of Wicked Opossum Records, on drums. Starstruck: A Tribute to The Kinks is the first release from the new label and Paniccia is responsible for putting this show together. If this particular evening was a bellwether, the label has a promising and exciting future. Paniccia, and fellow Publicity Stunt members Adam Lingenfelter (vocals/guitar), Josh Claussen (guitar/vocals), and Dru Sheffer (bass) performed, with gusto, a set which included, “First Crush,” “Things To Think About,” “Tail Whip,” “Half-Way Written,” and “Pineapple Dandy.” Publicity Stunt’s entry on the tribute album was “Love Me Till The Sun Shines.”


Just over a week post-show, Mike Paniccia and I discussed the tribute record. He told me that,

Starstruck is the first release. The Kinks were a big influence growing up and I knew a tribute compilation of a “bands’ band” was the type of thing I wanted to put out first — to get the interest of other musicians and show them what I can do.

His take on how the event went off?

Everyone seemed to have a great time, which is what it’s all about.”

Just as the Punk Rock Doc was spot on the money about Mike Wiebe, so too was Paniccia re: this show.


See more photos below!


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