I know most happyrobot readers and contributors are getting up there in age and a little out of it when it comes to the latest rock-n-roll developments. God knows I have been. My recent rock show experiences have been totally white-bread normal (middle-aged, you could say), CBGB's closing, retro retro, hipsters and the same old emo angst - there looked as if there really was nothing new under the sun.
Well maybe you've heard of Harry and the Potters? Two brothers from up near Boston, they dress up as Harry Potter and play songs that sound like the early Modern Lovers and are all based on the Harry Potter books. They play libraries and community centers, rockin' the kids cross-country. I thought it sounded like a fun, interesting idea - I listened on myspace and they were pretty good. They have three full-length CDs.
That interesting idea has taken a life of its own. Based on my research last night, there are approximately 150 Wizard Rock bands on myspace. That's right...150 bands, all writing and playing their own songs, all based solely on the Harry Potter books. There will be festivals, Yule Balls, in Philadelphia, Boston, and Peoria this December ... maybe more. The kids (oh and there will be some adults, definitely) show up dressed in their wizarding finest and they geek out to their own version of sex, books and rock-n-roll.
150 bands. Harry and the Potters are considered "the Ramones of Wizard Rock." There are other bands now, bands like: Draco and the Malfoys (evil wizard rock), The Remus Lupins (quality indie rock), The Whomping Willows (excellent hard punk), Dobby and the House Elves (electronic house music), Hollow Godric (lyrically based folky stuff), Bella's Love (Death Cab-like emo stuff), The Mudbloods (gosh, these guys are really good!), Giant Squidstavaganza (bizarre!), Ginny and the Heartbreakers ("Harry You're a Hottie"), The Hungarian Horntails (fronted by an 8 year-old boy), Hermione Crookshanks Experience, The Moaning Myrtles. There are tons of others. I have heard bands that sound like the Residents and bands that sound like Steve Vai and bands that sound like Beat Happening.
It sounds silly and it is. That said, is it sillier than Sgt. Pepper's or the Sex Pistols? Sillier than Jan & Dean or Elvis' Comeback Special? Or Cat Power singing to the trees? Maybe, maybe not, but nine out of ten of these bands are better than anything on rock radio. The bands and the scene are unapologetically geeky. They dress straight out of the HP books. But honest, is that any stranger than Haight-Asbury or CBGB's?
I love this stuff. I think what impresses me most is that most of these people involved are teenagers -- which means that they are teenagers who are writing and playing music about something other than themselves. And that is pretty cool. After all, we adults just like rock-n-roll; the kids need it.