Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Yule Ball

Sunday night I ventured through the crazy snowstorm with some of my best friends to go to the 4th annual Yule Ball at the Middle East. It was a strange show, but very, very fun.

The crowd was composed of all sorts of fans - parents with children, forty year old women dressed up like 14 year old goth chicks, costumed Harry Potter fans, and college kids with secret geeky sides. We grabbed some butterbeers from the bar (cream soda and butterscotch syrup to replicate the Hogsmeade favorite) and settled in for a night of silly fun.

After a rapping Dumbledore, the Whomping Willows played. They were you average Wizard rock band, but they did a fabulous cover of "Mickey" by Tony Basil, except that it was "Remus" and the chorus noted that "you take me by the heart when you take me by the branch."

I'm such a dork.

Next on were The LeeVees. They had absolutely nothing to do with wizard rock - they're a Hanukkah band. And they were awesome. They threw gelt into the crowd, sang about the epic applesauce/sour cream debate, and had a tambourine shaped like the star of David. Also, they were all in their 30s or 40s and were members of other real bands (one of the guitarists is also in Guster - awesome!) so the music they played was actually really good.

Next up was a speech by a member of the Harry Potter Alliance. Keep my politicians out of my music and my musicians out of my politics. Thanks.

Then, Draco and The Malfoys. They are very... strange. It's two guys on guitars playing to backup tracks off of a laptop. It's not the best music in the world, but they're very animated and jumpy. Enough so that they got my attention as I walked by the stage they were playing at Warped this Summer (which meant I grabbed my best friend's arm, pointed, screamed "Wizard Rock!" and proceeded to dance to "99 Deatheaters.")

Jason Anderson and the Best were on next. Jason Anderson's kind of awesome. He's got this weird, homey, New England sing-along vibe that makes everyone in the room feel happy. He gets the entire audience into what he's playing, making you scream back lines or get down on the floor with him. Jason doesn't play to a crowd, he plays with the crowd. The opening chords of "July 4, 2004" sent me back to last Winter when I spent a lot of time wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate listening to his feel good music, and during "So Long" he got the entire audience to sing with him, for 4 minutes, that "the best thing in the world, is to love someone and they love you back." It's actually kind of gorgeous and amazing to see a crowd that big and diverse come together in one song. There are a ton of free downloads on his website, and it would be a disservice if you didn't at least check out some of his stuff.

Finally, Harry and the Potters. The first, the best. Wizard rock at its finest. They sang Christmas songs. They sang wizard songs. The crowd sang with them. The crowd smiled with them. The crowd laughed with them. If you listen to nothing else by them, check out "Save Ginny Weasley." If you're at all interested in Harry Potter, pick up "Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock." It's a silly, crazy CD, and it will simultaneously make your music collection 1000 times more embarrassing and 1000 times cooler. The end of the set included bubbles, balloons, and a brass ensemble composed of fans.

Sadly, we had to leave before the encore in order to make the last train home (and just barely caught it due to a disabled red line train at the MGH stop. We literally ran through South Station to catch our train, and let me tell you that while 3 inch heels give me a bit of a boost above the concert crowd, they are certainly not meant to run in.)

It was one of the weirdest, most unconventional rock shows I've been too, but the Yule Ball was so much fun. So much.

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