Two years ago, a pack of werewolves stormed the Fubar stage clad in yellow Beavers basketball tanks, knee-high tube socks and Chuck Taylors, headbands circling fur-sprouting muzzled-and-fanged faces, instruments blazing as they growled, barked and howled through raucous punk-rock odes about the life and times of frontman Michael J. Wolf, the aging cantankerous one-time inspiration behind 1985's Teen Wolf.
This Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of that momentous Wolf-Face debut at a venue the foursome now considers their unofficial home turf. It's also the date of Burgatory, Wolf-Face's second annual Memorial Day weekend throwdown, and a salute to National Burger Month, with PBR providing the brews and beef. Wolf-Face headlines the two-venue fest, joined by 14 others, all Florida acts doling out punk and hardcore sounds with a few heavy exceptions (set and setting, Zulu Wave).
The Wolf-Face mythology can be traced back to the furry growing pains of Michael's youth, which made werewolf history in the aforementioned coming-of-age film based on his life. He enjoyed post-Teen Wolf fame as a musician, issued some underground tapes and toured the world with his band before the stresses of the biz — drugs, alcohol, having to dumb down his music — spurred his retirement to Florida in the mid-1990s. 'Course, he's always been a bit hot-headed, and the abundance of insipid music littering the airwaves paired with the profusion of phony werewolves in media (including the completely inaccurate portrayal of his family in Teen Wolf 2 — wolves don't box, people, they kill!) prompted him to revive Wolf-Face. So he put together a brand-new lineup of packmates — Good Wolf (bass), Rain-Wolf (guitar, clean vocals), and Wolf-Fart (drums) — and returned full steam ahead, re-releasing his old recordings and catching the ear of Chicago-based label Mooster Records, which issued the Wolf-Face full-length, Still A Son Of A Bitch, late last year.
While many of the fast, raw tunes deal with Michael J.'s Teen Wolf past ("Give Me a Keg of Beer," "What are you looking at Dicknose," "Put Me in Coach ... On Second Thought, Go Fuck Yourself"), some tunes reflect on the day-to-day trials and tribulations of being a werewolf and managing the bullshit of modern society, like posers who want to be bitten or pretend to be werewolves, and all the books, films and TV shows that over-romanticize the condition. As Michael J. put it, "We are real, we're rough, we're dirty and we don't cry when a girl runs off with a dracula."
Obviously, he and his packmates are doing something right; since forming a few years ago, Wolf-Face has earned spots playing Peelander-Fest at SXSW and the FEST in Gainesville, and built up a rather devoted fanbase with their high-octane balls-out performances, almost always accompanied by a gratuitous slideshow of werewolves in compromising positions. In other words, a Wolf-Face show isn't for the faint of heart. "If you take your music and live entertainment really serious, stay home and read a book," said Michael J. "If you are offended by homoerotic, heteroerotic and werewolferotic materials, stay home and read a book. Otherwise, we're gonna sweat on you, touch you, feel you, tempt you, booze with you and make your ears ring. It's always a lot of fun."
And the foursome definitely likes to see how far they can take it, even when the crowd might not seem receptive to bestial innuendo. "The first time we played in Orlando," Wolf-Fart said in a recent sit-down at Fubar, "there were some dudes there that looked like Mexican gangbangers. I thought that once they saw all of these big cocks, they were going to stab us or shoot us." As the show went on, "they were holding their phones up, taking pictures with huge grins on their faces. Same thing happened in Cocoa Beach when we played this weird bar full of biker redneck sorts. I remember telling Michael, 'Hey, maybe we shouldn't show the slideshow.' But they loved it, and one of the biggest scariest dudes actually asked our singer for a kiss after the show. So it kind of reveals things about people."
That first Orlando show also yielded the one incident that tested Michael J. Wolf's beastly patience. "There was a guy who looked a little down on his luck, and he grabbed Michael's tambourine and tried to run off with it," Wolf-Fart remembered. "And he just stopped mid-song, dropped his guitar, and chased this guy across the bar. And I stopped, too, 'cause seeing someone wolfed-out chasing someone like that? You can't tell how serious he was. I thought he was gonna kill the guy."
With Burgatory, Wolf-Face hopes to leave people with "a full stomach, a sweaty t-shirt, hopefully discovering some new bands that they might not have known otherwise, a desire to come back next year and bring some friends with them."
Next up on the Wolf-Face radar: a split 7" with Caffeinds coming out on Anti Authority Records/Mooster Records later this summer.
Download a free Burgatory Fest 2014 comp featuring one song from each band playing the fest at burgatory.bandcamp.com. You can also check a few tracks below...
SHOW INFO: Burgatory & PBR Burger Bash with Wolf-Face, set and setting, Fero Lux, Wet Nurse, Ex-Breathers, Zulu Wave, Buffalo Buffalo, Caffiends, Gouge Away, You Vandal, Heretic, Nothing In The Dark, Awkward Age, Won?t Be Arsed, Lipschitz, Sat., May 24, 4 p.m.-late, Fubar (21-plus) and Local 662 (all ages), downtown St. Petersburg, $10 advance. Burger Bash begins at 4 p.m.; free burgers to all attendees (ages 21 & up) while supplies last. RSVP HERE.