Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 28
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
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Wizard Rock Delights Readers, Indie Enthusiasts, Muggles Alike

Dilshanie Perera

“This takes the love of literature to a higher level,” said Alex Carpenter, the lead singer and guitarist of the Remus Lupins. He was referring to wizard rock (wrock), underground independent music inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Five bands gathered in the Hinds Community Plaza to celebrate all things magical last Wednesday. The event was hosted by the Public Library. Staunch supporters of all ages could be seen sporting striped ties, long robes, and homemade t-shirts emblazoned with slogans like “fight evil; read books.”

The group, Three Stalls Down, their name perhaps referring to the residence of Moaning Myrtle, a ghost at Hogwarts, opened the evening’s event. Armed with a keyboard, tambourine, and two microphones, the three ladies sang about the better qualities of prefects.

Justin Finch Fletchley and the Sugar Quills took the stage next. The one-man band consists of Justin Edward Michaelman clad in Hufflepuff house colors. Singing about everything from the Hogsmeade candy shop, Honeydukes, to Quidditch star Viktor Krum, Mr. Michaelman played the part of Mr. Finch Fletchley without breaking character.

Toward the end of Mr. Michaelman’s set he was accompanied by Matt Maggiacomo of the Whomping Willows, who was on next. The assembled young people, and perhaps most of the adults, knew the lyrics to almost all of the songs, and would mouth them while dancing with wrock-inspired exuberance.

Next up were Draco and the Malfoys, a project initially started by Brian Ross and Bradley Mehlenbacher to poke fun at their friends in the band Harry and the Potters, the original founders of the genre of wizard rock. Unlike other such bands whose lyrics celebrate spirit of friendship, the Malfoys delight in maligning Mr. Potter, which is characteristic of Draco Malfoy in the book series.

When asked about his favorite characters from the books, Mr. Ross replied that he was enchanted by the complexity of Severus Snape. Adding that he begrudgingly approves of the Weasley twins, he confided that “mischief is their primary motivation, and I can relate to that.”

Mr. Ross emphasized that one of the best parts of the wizard rock movement is bringing people together. “Because reading is such a solitary activity” that doesn’t necessarily foster interaction, Mr. Ross praised the wizard rock community and related events as a “place where people who enjoy reading can socialize while already having a common ground.”

Wednesday’s show was Draco and the Malfoys’ first time playing in New Jersey since the band formed in 2006.

Before leading the Remus Lupins in the set that concluded the event, Mr. Carpenter expressed obvious delight in the “30 kids in the front row jumping and singing” and in the adult passersby who paused in their walks for a few minutes of dancing. Pointing out that most of the members of the various bands had grown up together, Mr. Carpenter added that the wizard rock community feels like “an extended family, which is something you don’t get from any other scene.”

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