Written by: Catastrophe Waitress, Special to CC2K
When I first heard the term “Wizard Rock” I imagined that somewhere fans of Michael Whelan, Merlin and Magic Cards had gathered to celebrate sorcery and really fuck with people’s heads. Later, the term resurfaced when a friend of mine casually mentioned that his creepy new hobby was stalking Wizard Rock bands on Myspace. “You’re stalking Gandalf impersonators for fun?” I asked. “Isn’t that sort of sad and backwards?” Satisfied in the belief that not only had I proven my knowledge of obscure musical genres, but had also managed to insert a mildly critical defamation of my friend’s character, I smiled in smug self-approval. “Gandalf?” My friend Laughed Out Loud (yes, this was via Instant Messenger, but that doesn’t detract from my superior coolness). “I think you’ve been misinformed.” It was true. And over the next few minutes I was brutally schooled in the art of Wizard Rock, conjuring images that only got better as time progressed.
“Wizard Rock” is a recently developed music trend, taking inspiration from, as you may have already guessed, the Harry Potter series. According to a website I’d never heard of, the genre was born in the backyard of brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge’s Massachusetts home, after the cancellation of an impromptu rock show forced the brothers to act on instinct. Curiously, instinct did not tell them to “appease with beer,” but rather, to dress as fictional children’s book characters and sing songs about magic. Apparently it worked because soon, others followed, with clever names like Draco and the Malfoys, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Band, Luna Loves Good, and my personal favorite, The Hungry Hungry Hippogriffs. Musically, styles are varied, from pure pop to folk to punk to ska to death metal (you heard me), and every schmaltzy coffee shop troubadour in between. The common bond is obviously a love of Pottermania and a love of literary literalism. But don't take my word for it:
While it’s mildly amusing to come across a band called Severely Snaped, it’s downright bizarre to hear a grown man reference ‘Muggles’ and ‘James Potter’ in what seems to be an earnest, albeit humorous, attempt at paying homage to a cultural phenomenon. Some of these performers prefer to adopt their namesake’s characterization. For example, the lead singer of Severely Snaped appropriately calls himself “Severus S.,” and according to his Myspace page, would like to perpetuate the idea that had Severus S. really existed, he totally would’ve shredded it up on stage, old-school. Others dress in costume—interesting home-made interpretations of wizard fashion—elevating the concept of “fandom” to a higher, weirder level. Hell…someone's even made a "ROCK-umentary" about this thing:
As parody, Wizard Rock succeeds in the same way that Weird Al and comedians-cum-tunesmiths succeed, crafting tongue-in-cheek parables of everyday life, as imagined by the Boy Who Lived and his posse of Hogwarts hangers-on. Cute lyrics like “Prefects are freakin hot in any season / You know they call me Moaning Myrtle for a reason” (The Moaning Myrtles) were certainly intended to stimulate a chuckle more so than a deep thought. However, the exclusionary lyricism of these songs makes them impossible to stomach if you’re adverse to all things Potter, or have experienced any of the following situations: coma, Amish, recently born, resident of uninhabited island, Grandma Crombie. Additionally, because the cultural references are so specific, it’s a bit difficult to listen to a Wizard Rock song without a). sneering (if you’re a cynic) or b). laughing incredulously/uncomfortably (if you’re a normal, self-loathing Potter fan). Perhaps with the release of the final HP literary installment, and the promise of two more film adaptations, Pottermania is still too fresh on the collective global mind to be taken seriously (if Led Zeppelin could convincingly reference the Lord of the Rings during their prolific years, than I predict that Harry Potter will be ripe for name-dropping in the year 2017. Be sure to credit me later). But my suspicions are that these bands have no desire to be taken seriously, and that Wizard Rock is merely an “inside joke” that grew beyond the classroom and the Denny’s parking lot. These kids are having fun, avoiding the electric Kool-Aid, and probably staying in school; am I going to be the monster that taunts their extracurricular activities?
Unfortunately, with images like this…
…The monster just can’t help herself.
Stalk Wizard Rock:
Harry and the Potters: http://www.myspace.com/harryandthepotters
Bertie Botts Every Flavor Band: http://www.myspace.com/bertiebottseveryflavorband
Draco and the Malfoys: http://myspace.com/dracoandthemalfoysusa
Luna Loves Good: http://myspace.com/lunalovesgood
Severely Snaped: http://www.myspace.com/severelysnapedwizardrock
The Moaning Myrtles: http://www.myspace.com/themoaningmyrtles