The Yule Ball 2010 - Middle East in Cambridge, MA, December 19, 2010
At the beginning of the show, one of the DeGeorges got up on stage and asked anyone if it was their first Yule Ball. Second? Third? My hand was still up for fourth, but there were some up for fifth and sixth too. That's dedication, man.
Jason Anderson was up first. (I just accidentally typed "best" instead of "first." Both are true.) I still love Jason Anderson, but he didn't sing any of his own songs, opting to instead jump into the crowd and sing Christmas carols with everyone. It was a room full of maybe 400 people singing Christmas songs at the top of their lungs in the glow of multicolored strands of lights and it was the first time all season that it really felt like Christmas.
Next up was The Whomping Willows. It was just the singer alone on an acoustic and it was his 500th show, his first being at the first Yule Ball. It was a special night and he sang his first song "Seasonal Depression" which I'm not ashamed to say I own on CD. He's a great performer, if self-deprecating and maybe in need of a hug. "Could have been a wizard rock heart throb..."
Math the Band was next and I can't for the life of me figure out where I've heard of them before. They were not a Wizard rock band, but were a chiptune band. I like chiptune, but I'll admit to being a little distracted by the boy that the girls behind us nicknamed "Sasquatch." He was about six feet tall, hadn't showered thoroughly in a few days, and decided to mosh next to the small girls. Being the tallest of anyone around, I took the protective role of "wall," stepped between him and the 4 foot eleven and 5 foot two girls I was with, and stood my ground. The girls to his left looked frightened and the girls beside us were pissed. He was having fun, but he was all elbows and flailing and this just wasn't the crowd for that. The band itself was... loud. But fun. But loud, and a bit on the "noise" side of the noise vs music scale. But fun, just a guitar some beats and a keyboard.
Next was Draco and the Malfoys. I've seen them an embarrassing amount of times. I was happy to see that they were back to being a wizard rock band versus a wizard bluegrass band. They set an ipod up to play drums (the younger brother drums for some of the other bands at the Yule Balls, so I'm guessing he is the infamous "Crabbe" playing on the track) and rock out on a couple of guitars. They are a lot of fun, and probably the only band that can get away with gleefully singing about people's dead fathers. I think they're a little bit awesome.
Potter Puppet Pals rounded out the openers with a Hogwarts beauty pageant. Neil Cicierega is funny, though some of his short films are often of the dry, bland humor variety, the sort of punchline free, odd comedy. That's not a criticism, really, but an observation that the Puppet Pals don't seem to be much like his other work. The pageant was fun, with people pulled from the crowd as judges, and it was an interesting interlude. The Ron puppet was completely covered in Christmas lights for an outfit. Go big or go home, Ron Weasley.
Finally, Harry and the Potters. The first, the best, the pinnacle of silly wizard rock. There were some choreographed dance moves, a guitar shaped like a broom, santa hats and tinsel. They play silly songs and the crowd screams along and it's about the best book geek moment ever. There is nothing that can describe how two boys in their twenties dressed up like a fictional boy wizard can make a crowd dance like they can. This year the crowd was packed, a sold out show of teenagers, college kids, and a few scattered adults. It was a good crowd with some fun bands, and it was a fantastic way to start the Christmas week.