TORONTO (CUP) — What if your favourite literary characters were real, and they started a rock band? Well, for Harry Potter fans wondering where they can get their next fix of Hogwarts-related goodness, the answer could lie in a little-known craze that has been going on under our noses for some time now: wizard rock.
Yes, it’s true. The phenomenon that started with J.K. Rowling’s series of books, and moved on to include a matching set of movies, now boasts a range of independently formed rock bands based on characters from the Harry Potter series.
The biggest name in wizard rock, not surprisingly, are Harry and the Potters. The band consists of two brothers, Joe and Paul DeGeorge, who take the on-stage personas of Harry from year four and Harry from year seven.
“We didn’t want to fight over who got to be Harry,” joked Joe. “So we figured we could both be Harry from different points in time.”
Although it started off as a last-minute backyard show for friends, the brothers from Boston soon found themselves booking shows in local libraries and increasingly larger venues. Many of the audience members are young fans of the series, and the DeGeorges embraced the idea of using their music to promote literacy.
“[Harry Potter has] gotten a lot of kids-and adults-really interested in literature and reading,” said Joe. “We’ve heard so many stories about kids who didn’t read at all, then picked up the books and they’ve been the gateway books to the world of literature for them. And I think we have to emphasize that aspect of the phenomenon: get kids involved, get kids going to the library for a rock show, and maybe [they will] read a couple of books at the same time.”
At their Toronto show in August however, it was clear that their act has managed to reach an audience of not just the young, but the young at heart. The small downtown venue, the Whippersnapper Gallery, was teeming with university-aged, music-loving bookworms who shared the Potter love and weren’t ashamed to show it.
Harry and the Potters showed an uncanny ability to engage the audience, entering the thick of the crowd for one song and offering high fives all around for the next. Part of the audience joined the two Harrys in a rousing chorus of “Voldemort can’t stop the rock”, and “We’ve got to save Ginny Weasley from the Basilisk”. By the end of the show, spirits were high; everyone in attendance was dripping with sweat and smiling from ear to ear.
Since they started playing five years ago, the band has inspired a whole slew of wizard-rock bands, including The Parselmouths, The Whomping Willows and onstage rivals Draco and the Malfoys. The latter has opened several shows on the Harry and the Potters tour, and the back-and-forth quasi-bitter banter between the two bands is truly a thing of beauty.
Decked out faithfully in Slytherin colours, half-brothers Brian Ross and Bradley Mehlenbacher encouraged the crowd to “party like you’re evil,” and surprised the audience with an energetic cover song, “99 Death Eaters Go By”.
Of course, now that the seventh and final book has been released, these wizard-rock bands face an uncertain future. How long can this phenomenon last? Can wizard rock live on if the books do not survive?
Draco and the Malfoys are optimistic. “This is the best job we’ve ever had in our lives, so we’re going to keep doing it until people stop showing up,” says Ross.
“There’s also a [Harry Potter] theme park coming in 2010, and the fact that they’re going to invest millions of dollars in a theme park – which is not a temporary establishment – means that people are going to be interested in these stories forever,” said Ross. “At least the rest of our lifetime.”
For more information on these bands, visit
eskimolabs.com/hp or evilwizardrock.com.