How a Children’s Book Sparked a New Generation of Punk Rock

Roy Mackenzie | March 1, 2017

Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of Q. Morris Pearson, in the Reference Department.

It was a chilly Sunday evening in late December as I descended the narrow, creaking stairs  down to the Middle East Nightclub’s basement venue. When I arrived on the floor and peered into the dimly lit room, a mass of people had already gathered in anticipation of the headlining band. In one corner was a tiny merchandise table filled with shirts that said, “When in Doubt, Go to the Library,” and tote bags with “Azkabanned Books” scrawled across them. Band shirts, pins, and albums filled a second table and had a line of eager people waiting to make their purchases.

I was at a punk rock show, but the audience didn’t wear plaid pants or ripped mesh shirts. They weren’t sporting mohawks or spiked cuffs and collars. Instead, they were dressed in wizard robes and carried wands. Their shirts and vests bore the crests of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff.  

I was attending a wizard rock show. The headlining band was Harry and the Potters, and they were playing with Draco and the Malfoys, and the Whomping Willows.

What started as a last minute plan between two brothers exploded into popularity among Harry Potter fans across the country. When Paul and Joe DeGeorge scheduled  a lineup at a venue in 2002 (which was a back yard shed)  and every band failed to show, the brothers formed Harry and the Potters over the next hour to keep the audience entertained.  During that hour, seven songs that centered on the Harry Potter universe were written.  Over the next several years they produced a total of three albums and gave birth to a new genre. Wizard rock now includes numerous bands such as Tonks and the Aurors, the Hermione Crookshanks Experience, the Ministry of Magic, the Remus Lupins, and Band in a Horcrux.

As Harry and the Potters began setting up, I pushed my way through the capes, wigs, and school uniforms so that I could get a better view of the band. Soon afterwards, they kicked off with fan favorite songs like “I Am a Wizard,” “My Teacher is a Werewolf,” “Save Ginny Weasley,” and “These Days are Dark.”

It wasn’t until halfway through the set list that the band ignited the real magic of the night. As one Harry Potter gingerly strummed a few notes on his guitar, the other Harry Potter raised his wand in solidarity and spoke to the audience with a fervent passion that lit up the dim venue like a lumos spell. He delivered a speech about the injustice in the world, and the parallels that run between the Harry Potter universe and real life. Here is where the Daily Prophet and fake news are one and the same, and where Rita Skeeter writes all the clickbait articles she possibly can, regardless of how true the reports are. Here is where Death Eaters and Voldemort are not evil wizards with magical powers, but are the corruption that lurks within higher states of power. Dumbledore’s Army has taken to the streets with signs expressing their outrage and stating their rights.

This is where we find the beating heart of Punk Rock.

“When we see injustice in the world,” Harry and the Potters shouted, “we say—”

The audience responded with a “WANDS UP!”

“When we see sexism in the world, we say—”

“WANDS UP!”

“When we see racism in the world, we say—”

“WANDS UP!”

Together, the band and the audience were Dumbledore’s Army. We were there to seek justice and to return the balance that was lost to us. When the Ministry of Magic fails to acknowledge the crises that surround us from all sides, we will be there with our wands raised to point them to the truths they refuse to recognize. When the Death Eaters arrive and seek to strip people of their rights, we will be there with our wands raised to target their hateful words with a patronus of love and equality.  And when Fawkes sings a melody to mourn the passing of what once was or what could have been, we will be there with our wands raised in grief and remembrance.

So when you see something wrong in the world, you say—

WANDS UP!”