On June 22, 2002, Joe Degeorge had a barbecue in his backyard. He was 15 at the time and living with his parents in Norwood, Mass. Joe had arranged for a couple of bands to play, but they bailed, and he needed entertainment. There are people who at that point would have jacked an iPod into the sound system and called it a party. But this Joe did not do.
He and his brother Paul, who's eight years older, were Harry Potter fans. In fact Paul had always thought the characters from Harry Potter would make a great band: Ron on guitar, Hermione on bass, Hagrid on drums (natch) and Harry up front. "We'd kind of been talking about the idea but never done anything," Paul remembers. Joe and Paul proceeded to become this band. In one day, the brothers wrote, rehearsed and performed six songs about life at Hogwarts. The set list included "Platform 9 and ¾" and "Wizard Chess." To solve the personnel issues, or possibly compound them, both brothers appeared as Harry. "We high-fived at the end of the day," Paul says, "and said, 'All right, we're Harry and the Potters.'"
The DeGeorges didn't realize it, but they had just invented a new kind of music. It's now known as wizard rock, or sometimes just "wrock." Wizard rock is pretty much what it sounds like: rock 'n' roll inspired by and set in the universe of Harry Potter. Seven years after that fateful barbecue, there are dozens of wizard-rock bands: the Remus Lupins, Tonks and the Aurors, the Whomping Willows, the Moaning Myrtles, DJ Luna Lovegood, Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls. Evil characters can rock too: Draco and the Malfoys and the Parselmouths are mainstays of the scene. Wizard rockers dress like Hogwarts students. They play at conventions and clubs and wizard-rock festivals. There is a Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club.
Wizard rock is just one aspect of a subtle transformation that's taking place in the world of Harry Potter fandom. Two years after the last book was released, it's still going strong, and it's showing signs of taking on a life of its own as a cultural movement in its own right. Potter fan fiction continues to flow onto the Net, extending the Potterverse out toward the horizon in all directions, with the blessing of J.K. Rowling. There are two Harry Potter conventions this year, LeakyCon in Boston in May and Azkatraz in San Francisco in July (following the release of the sixth movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, on July 15). Paul serves on the board of directors of the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), an activist group founded to promote the ideals and values of the Harry Potter books in the real world. Under the motto "What Would Dumbledore Do?" the HPA works to draw attention to social problems like the conflict in Darfur.
Some important things for the nonfan to understand about wizard rock: The songs can be funny, but wizard rock is not a joke. It's not a stunt. It's not for little kids, or not just for them. It is exactly as advertised: music about Harry Potter for people who think Harry Potter is awesome.