Eyes closed, getting lost in the heavy bliss while front and center in a whirlpool of people flying back and forth and headbanging with all fury, I briefly look to my left and view imminent injury coming my way. Before I knew it, crunch, a Jenga tower of feet simultaneously landed on my right foot. But what was I to expect, really? It was 2013 Wolves’ last show and I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that they were one of the most well-loved Charlotte locals that have never played a set without a forefront of flying hair. Snug Harbor quickly filled to the brim with charged but melancholy fans that were ready to throw down one last time.
The night began a little late with local comic, Bill Thethrill Cleveland taking the mic and MCing between acts. An interesting combo for the night, stand-up comedy filled the downtime while bands loaded in and out, keeping the focus on the stage and providing laughs for those who weren’t headed straight to the bar, outside for a smoke, or to Pants’ Flying Taco Circus out back for a delicious mexican treat.
But that was to come, music first and as Bill introduced Hungry Girl, promising that they’d “slay the party dragon,” we all looked around for the twosome to hop on stage and grab their instruments.
After a brief search for drummer Jimmy Lail, Hungry Girl was found and played an ultimately solid set that began to get the heads nodding. Their live performances never disappoint and never fail to get their audience in the zone. With a 90’s-tinged, heavy-nodding upbeat tempo with the occasional nearly grungy mellow song, they took the forefront and brought the smokers inside the building to catch of glimpse of the duo making so much noise. Their set was short but spanned old and new, from the very first song they wrote to their latest release, “Baba”. “I chipped my tooth at a 2013 Wolves show, right here,” DeDe Skipper reminisced between songs. 2013 Wolves shows always get rowdy and Hungry Girl was a nice appetizer.
While Cop Graves were setting up, local comic, Rob McDonald took the spotlight for a handful of jokes. From unflattering Yelp reviews of his dick to fairly racial banter he kept the laughs coming from the few spectators that stuck around to catch his set or were waiting at the bar. But then the bomb came… in good fun he pulled up the last Shutter 16 review of a comedy/music hybrid show and I must admit, we weren’t necessarily proud to publish it. Our writer only mentioned the comics in a blurb, which in all honesty aren’t really his thing, but Rob reamed us. Dianna and I turned to each other and couldn’t help but laugh our asses off. Just goes to show why you don’t have a photographer write, a lesson that we’ve laughingly learned along the way. We came to Rob after the show and introduced ourselves, giggling like crazy. Even if we were getting heckled, it was pretty hilarious and well executed on his behalf. And that means you guys are reading…
Cop Graves, two-thirds painted up like necromancing indians, began playing their first notes as Dianna and I made our way back to the stage. Some of Gaston County’s finest, the trip began with their beachy psychedelic garage rock and got the ladies grooving. But I think attention spans were short, as people filed back and forth from socializing outside and by the bar to stage view. A two-man pit erupted mid-set by which time, Drummer Jake Davis had sweat so profusely, his face paint had made its way to his chest. Snug was sweaty inside and the way these boys play, they let it all out in one intense, continuous burst. With absolute precision, Nathan Bishop meticulously played his guitar while Daniel J. O’Leary, held down the hip-swinging bass that drove us to dance. Although the first time I saw them perform, I was confused as to why the trio formerly known as Homewrecker changed their name to Cop Graves. But their heavier, newer songs made it clear that have made the transition in brutality from wrecking homes to killing cops with their sweet jams.
“Where the hell is Bill?” The Southern Madman, Tom Stover, screamed from the mic as Cop Graves finished up and began loading out. MC Bill Thethrill was M.I.A. and Tom had to make sure the party continued. After hilarious typical Southern Madman banter, in an almost impromptu set, Bill was finally found and Carlos Valencia, a local but often touring comic stepped up to conclude the his genre’s portion of the evening.
Carlos was nothing short of offensive in the best of ways, although I think at this point, most people were too drunk to have a long enough attention span to get what he was saying. He immediately got most’s attention after opening up with necrophilia and spousal abuse. I think he lost most of the hammered ones after his “aspergers/pussy-fries,” joke. Don’t get me wrong, the few who managed to remain attentive were laughing their asses off, but 2013 Wolves were about to come on so the most attention was towards the bar so people could get that last shot before they got rowdy.
It got so loud that it was impossible to hear Carlos’ set unless you were front and center, which was getting harder and harder to get to while the room became packed with every person in attendance who were pushing to get their spot where they’d witness one of the greatest Charlotte bands play their last set. That being said, I wanna see Carlos again when the focus is on him. What I heard was dry and funny but nearly impossible to comprehend with hundreds of people talking in the background.
2013 Wolves, needless to say, held to their name and ravaged the audience with, hands-down, one of the best sets I’ve ever heard and one of the rowdiest crowds I’ve ever seen at Snug. With the first notes they played, the entire room became a mess of thrashing bodies and anywhere short of the back of the room was a danger zone. “When in Rome” became a disease, spreading throughout the room and everyone was intense. I suppose you don’t always know what you’ve got until it’s about to be gone. It was like break-up sex for our ears and everyone let Neal MF Harper and Bobby Childers know just how much they were gonna miss them.
Spanning their entire catalog, the energy never fell and we all got sucked into the moment, it seemed like milliseconds but it was probably, in reality, at least 45 minutes. I can’t even begin to explain how melancholy the last notes were, they could’ve started all over and we would’ve responded the same, still amped by their genuine intensity.
Just before we reached the end, my foot was crushed and I had made my way up to the DJ booth where Pants, who had taken a break from her Flying Taco Circus, was ferociously jamming out. It couldn’t have been more perfect. I had to see the last of their set with her. I owe it ALL to her that I became obsessed with the heavy southern psychedelic feel of 2013 Wolves. She was the one who took me to see them the first time, and it was only appropriate that she be by my side to close them out. Arms around each other, screaming lyrics at the top of our lungs, it was beautifully emotional. An era of Charlotte music was closing and the entire room knew it. As they played their cherished song, “Trench Sinners $ Money Hype,” arms stretched high yelling, “Sinners you better get ready!” in unison before moments like that would cease to exist.
We’re all gonna miss 2013 Wolves. They have been a huge part of our scene for a long time and after at least seven years of being a band, and countless years of working together, it weighs heavy knowing that Neal MF Harper and Bobby Childers will not be a duo, at least for the time being. One can only hope that the Wolves change their mind and at least stick around for a few years after 2013.