Wizard rock band Harry and the Potters gave an enchanting performance last Tuesday night at the ’Sco. The band consists of brothers Joe and Paul DeGeorge on the keyboard and guitar, respectively, and a drummer who was solely referred to as “The Ghost of Cedric Diggory.” The drummer’s true identity is still uncertain; the band is always changing drummers. The DeGeorge brothers formed the band — and pioneered the entire wizard rock genre — in 2002 after a backyard concert gone awry, in which none of the bands they asked to play showed up. To save the show, the brothers quickly wrote seven Harry Potter-themed songs, donned Harry Potter costumes and played to the remaining audience. Six of those seven songs ended up appearing on their first album (self-titled), released on their own record label, Eskimo Laboratories. The duo began touring shortly after the release of their first album, playing shows at libraries, rock clubs, art spaces, bookstores, basements and pizza places across the world. They now have three studio albums and have played almost 800 shows.
The group ran into copyright issues with Warner Brothers when they released their second album, Voldemort Can’t Stop the Rock!. After a dramatic back and forth, Warner Brothers decided to allow Harry and the Potters to continue to make and sell music online, but they would only be able to sell merchandise at live shows. The band sold plenty of merchandise last Tuesday night. Not only did they sell the usual T-shirts and CDs, their merch table included a handful of zines, both Potter-related and not, drawn by the DeGeorges.
The Norwood, MA, natives took the stage to excited cheers; both brothers dressed as Harry Potter. The lightning bolt-adorned keyboard and Hogwarts crest gracing the backdrop set the tone for the Potter-themed performance. Although the crowd was small, it was evident that everyone was exceptionally happy to be there. Surprisingly, not many people dressed up for the event, most opting for casual clothes instead of the Hogwartsinspired getup that the DeGeorge brothers performed in.
Their self-declared genre, wizard rock, is basically a Potter-y form of pop-punk. The energetic nature of their driving keyboard lines and loud, fast drum beats made it almost impossible not to dance along — even for those who might not have been diehard fans of the band — and the brothers performed with such energy and enthusiasm that the show would’ve been successful no matter who was in the audience.
They began the performance by both introducing themselves as Harry Potter and then asking the audience to recite a pledge with them, stating that everyone present would make this show the “best show the ’Sco [had] ever seen.” The crowd enthusiastically obliged. This theme of audience interaction was present throughout the show, with both frontmen taking turns freely walking around the crowd and, during one song, letting audience members yell into the microphone. At times the crowd was showered with surprise bursts of confetti and, during a song mentioning the basilisk from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a huge plush snake was released into the crowd. At one point they asked the audience to hiss, imitating the snake language Harry speaks in the books. “Now you’re speaking my language,” the guitarist responded with a wry smile.
This kind of humor also played a big role in the show. Between songs, the brothers made countless Harry Potter jokes and references. It would be hard to expect anything less from two 20-something-year-olds performing Harry Potter-themed music and donning Harry Potter garb.
The brothers’ love of Harry Potter and belief in their music was clearly sincere, and by the end of the show they had the whole crowd chanting about how love is the most important thing we have. But the DeGeorges aren’t all fun and games. In fact, in 2005 they helped co-found the Harry Potter Alliance, a non-profit organization that helps fight for human rights in Sudan. The organization, comprised mostly of young Harry Potter fans, has launched many campaigns aimed at raising awareness for human rights violations in Sudan. The alliance has been active since its inception and has fundraised for and partnered with many different organizations over the years. The words “The weapon we have is love” can be seen emblazoned on the organization’s logo, a reference to a lyric from the last song the band performed at the ’Sco. Although completely based on a fictional book series, Harry and the Potters manages to find a way to bring the fantasy world of Harry Potter and real-world social activism together.
The show might’ve been the most fun ’Sco act of the semester so far, with no one on stage or in the audience taking themselves too seriously. It was truly an honor to see a show played with such enthusiasm for a crowd so charmed by the performance.