Wizard rock draws Potter fans, raises money for First Book

A fan throws up his fist for Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills, who played Saturday night in the Hallows and Horcruxes Ball. Right (Lisle Alderton)

A record crowd of 285 fans screamed and danced the night away Saturday. Audience members were in Hogwarts attire for their favorite wizard rock bands at “The Hallows and Horcruxes Ball 3: A Wizard Rock Concert for Literacy,” which was in the K-State Student Union Ballroom.

Performers included The Parselmouths, Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills, The Moaning Myrtles, Gred and Forge, The Whomping Willows, The Remus Lupins, Ministry of Magic and Draco and the Malfoys, in between other acts. All performed their wizard rock songs.

Wizard rock music connects to characters in the “Harry Potter” books. Bands write songs based on how certain characters would think, say or feel. Songs are also about events and situations in the books.

Before the show started, the bands sold T-shirts, buttons, CDs and more. Sami Voshell, resident of Omaha, Neb., was buying things from several bands, although she said Ministry of Magic is her favorite one. She said she accidentally found the band online.

“I have been listening to this mainly online phenomenon since 2006,” Voshell said.

She said she went to the concert last year after begging her mom to take her. Voshell said the easiest way to hear new information about what is going on with the groups is through MySpace.com or by becoming a fan of a band’s Facebook.com page.

These sites led fans from all over the United States to see the live concert and to support First Book, a nonprofit literacy organization that distributes books to children, particularly underprivileged and underrepresented children.

The event raised $1,000 for an organization that provides books to children in need, said Karin Westman, head of the English department. Sponsors and band members have chosen First Book as a benefactor for all three years.

Sponsors and band members have chosen First Book as a benefactor for all three years.

Matt Maggiacomo, member of the Whomping Willows band, said he has been supporting First Book for years.

“There was a time when culture pushed kids away from books and away from reading,” he said. “I think the ‘Harry Potter’ series has really pulled the generation of young people back into reading, and First Book is a great organization [for] promoting literacy and helping children.”

The money will go to the nearest local advisory board, which is in Kansas City, Kan., said Westman, who also serves as the faculty adviser for Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community and as co-organizer of the concert.

A teacher from Omaha, Dante Salvatierra, joined in the festivities and said the event was excellent.

“This is my third year coming, and it is almost like a tradition for me; I hope there is another one next year,” he said. “I never realized there were so many more bands than Harry and the Potters, and the idea that this concert donates money to First Books is great.

“I am a teacher; it is my job to promote literacy, and this is just another way to help.”

Wizard rock bands are like one big family, said Jarrod Perkins, member of the Gred and Forge band. Perkins played drums for the Moaning Myrtles and for other bands throughout the night. The band sang backup for other bands. Bands also go on tours with each other frequently.

Most of the bands say they got started after listening to Harry and the Potters. Now they are living a dream come true despite not knowing how much longer it will last, said Lauren Fairweather of The Moaning Myrtles.

The concert succeeded in its attendance numbers and in its goal of raising money. It was sponsored by Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community, the Department of English at K-State, the Manhattan Music Coalition, the Union Program Council and the Student Governing Association.