Portland is the nerd capital of the United States. It’s a city where being a nerd actually increases your chances of getting laid. We Portlanders pride ourselves on our nerd-dom: Powell’s Books, Ground Kontrol, Trek in the Park, Movie Madness, Robin Lopez, The TARDIS Room, and strippers with librarian glasses. In the Rose City, nerds rule.
So, it was no surprise on Wednesday night that the spring-loaded floors of Lola's Room were bouncing for Harry and the Potters—the creators of wizard rock. The large room wasn’t packed, but the energetic audience crowded the stage, singing along and dancing—some with lightning bolts on their foreheads.
HATP are brothers Joe and Paul DeGeorge, who wear bonafide Harry Potter clothes while playing punk guitar riffs and a keyboard with organ tones, and on Wednesday in Lola's Room, they each pretended to be Harry Potter for the entire performance. At what other show can you hear the vocalist say: “Professor Snape on the drums ladies and gentlemen!”? They were backed by Portland’s Lisa Schonberg on drums, who sported long black hair parted like the Professor’s.
HATP are more than just a gimmick band. While being playful, they still take Harry Potter seriously, accentuating the series’ sociopolitical themes. “Voldemort Can’t Stop The Rock” (check out the video below) rags on parental advisory labels, “Stick It To Dolores” revolts against bureaucratic red tape, and when Paul dedicated a song to “a special lady he knows named Ginny,” he’s not just talking about Ginny Weasley—he’s talking about love.
Audience participation was encouraged. During the song “SPEW,” the microphone was passed through the audience, and at the end of each measure a different person got the chance to yell “SPEW!” into the mic. On “Accio Hagrid,” the audience held up their heart-shaped hands. And during the song “Harry Potter” (listen below), Joe dove out into the audience screaming the lyrics as everyone jumped around him.
Probably the best part of the show was the pep talk. Before their last song, there was a musical break and Joe spoke into the mic: “When Voldemort comes, be strong and don’t worry... do it with the power of love... do it with the magic of rock and roll!” Again, at what other show would you hear these words?
The people in the audience were mostly in their late teens and early 20s. In addition to all of the confusing changes one goes through during those years, these kids are entering a tough, sometimes dark, scary world. In a world filled with political bullies, homelessness, war, high student loan debt, high unemployment rates, anxiety and depression, they are going to need the magic of Harry Potter now more than ever.
If you missed the show at Lola’s Room and want to celebrate your freedom to be a nerd, Harry and the Potters will be back in town on July 3 at The Analog Cafe. Maybe Robin Lopez will be there—I know I will.