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Leaky Report: Wizard Rock Yule Ball, 2006

Wizard Rock
Posted by: Melissa
December 12, 2006, 09:21 PM

We've now uploaded more than a hundred photos from this weekend's Wizard Rockextravaganza Yule Ball in Cambridge, Mass., and our report is below. This week's PotterCast will also feature interviews and audio from the show; in the meantime, here's hoping some words and pictures will do:

~*~

Leaky Report: Wizard Rock Yule Ball
December 10, 2006
By Melissa Anelli / LeakyNews.com

If you are a Harry Potter fan and haven't been sucked in to the world of Wizard Rock, there's only one possible reason why: You haven't been to a show. Campy, joshing lyrics and uptempo ditties about the woes of the Whomping Willow or Draco's ardent wish to resume his kicking-Dobby hobby are well and good on your computer, when you need a Potter-y lift, but they are not the force of what has now become a bona-fide movement among Potter fans.

At the Yule Ball in Cambridge, Mass., on Dec. 10, that force, that center and spirit of the Wizard Rock pandemonium, showed itself during the set performed by Harry and the Potters, the band that started the whole craze. "Harry Potter Year 7," as he is known on stage, or Paul DeGeorge, as he is known off-stage, took a break from singing to speak to the audience about how the spirit he felt in the room resembled -- strangely enough (go with me on it, it works out in the end) -- the movie "Ghostbusters," particularly the scene in which the Statue of Liberty walks across New York powered by the positive energy of all the city's inhabitants.

"There's nothing more awesome than a giant statue walking across an island," he shouted, then set about making the somewhat weird analogy make perfect sense, "because you know what, Voldemort hates statues! He hates it when statues come to life, because they're always jumping in front of his killing curses, do you hear what I'm saying?" The crowd erupted wildly. "All right, so let's sing this together!"

And about 500 people launched into an impassioned war cry to save Ginny from the basilisk, as if a fictional character hadn't already done it four books ago.

That funny, quirky, pure-hearted belief in the power of music and life and love, and the ways it connects to the books, as if rocking out together really could save the world, is what makes this curious subset of Potterdom tick-tock.

The bands that were on the Yule Ball docket pretty much comprise the core of that movement, too: The Remus Lupins, Whomping Willows, Hungarian Horntails, Draco and the Malfoys, and Harry and the Potters, are some of the most popular of the near-hundred Potter bands that exist today. As a result the event was full of hard-core devotees, who traveled far and wide (as far as Texas by my count, but I didn't talk to everyone) to get into an event with such a roster.

The event was rounded off with a performance by Jason Anderson and the Best, not a Harry Potter band but one with a summery, dance-friendly quality and the ability to add a rougher edge to jazzy holiday classics that leant itself perfectly to the atmosphere and very welcoming crowd.

That welcome aura wasn't hurt by the fact that the venue was strung with what must have been a thousand twinkly lights; all the band's equipment sat under gobs of tinsel and sheaths of fake snow; chintzy holiday decorations (plastic, lighted Santas and candles seen on stoops and lawns all over the country) dotted the room, and twice during the last set the band showered the crowd in cascades of multicolored balloons, which instantly became the bouncy playthings in a nonstop volleyball-game-meets-mosh-pit of color and light, making the entire affair seem like a dizzying Christmas-at-a-carnival kaleidoscope.

As for the music, well, you couldn't go five minutes without a good lyric-induced laugh, whether hearing about the poor Whomping Willow's desire to put a curse on the entire Weasley household for Ron's irresponsibility with the Anglia (trees have feelings too, you know); Draco's bragging to Harry that, "My dad is rich and your dad is dead," and of course, Harry telling Ginny, "when we were young and innocent / I saved you from a basilisk / I think that that deserves a kiss / but you're all over Dean Thomas." And let's not forget the story of how the Harrys, bummed by how Voldemort (who's "always trying to ruin Christmas, BOO!") was trying to kill his(/their) girlfriend, went to the Room of Requirement and found a guitar and saxophone, and decided to start their band to nurse their woes.

But it's not all camp; the show came to a powerful halt midway through the Potters' set; they smartly added a cello and violin player to their slow, poignant plaintive to Dumbledore, filling the room with an almost out-of-place, yet beautiful, symphonic sound that was at once completely right and completely bizarre for the event.

And then it was right back to that pure, energetic spirit so indicative of these shows: everyone who had played earlier came back on stage for a funloving rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," preceded a bit earlier by yet another paean to the spirit of rock, roll and love:

"It starts to give your heart that nice bear hug," claimed Joe DeGeorge (Harry Potter Year 4), "Soon everything starts flowing through your brain, and up through your pores comes the Christmas spirit and up through your mouth comes this giant aura of enegy, it creates a force field. You're spewing this beautiful thing, and no evil wizard can penetrate it."

~*~

For complete coverage including interviews and clips from the wizard rock Yule Ball, listen to the next PotterCast.

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