Imagine a small auditorium filled with nearly a hundred teenagers and a stage. On stage, a young man with a guitar grabbed a microphone and screamed, “I’m okay with being a nerd!”
Instead of sneers, whispers and dirty looks, the entire room erupted into screams and thunderous applause; he burst into song about characters from the mega-series Harry Potter, and the audience danced and happily sang along.
The last installment in the Harry Potter saga, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was released last week.
On Monday, fans from Westchase, Citrus Park and as far away as Kansas ventured to John F. Germany library in downtown Tampa for a free concert with their favorite Wizard Rock (Wrock) bands, a genre of music based on the Harry Potter series.
The bands also performed "nerd music" that honored all things nerd – especially gaming, Star Wars, Dr. Who and Lost, among others.
The Remus Lupins and Ministry of Magic joined DFTBA (Don’t Forget to Be Awesome) recording artists, Mike Lombardo, ALL CAPS and Skyway Flyer to play original music, sell CDs and T-shirts, sign autographs, hang out and take photos with the loyal fans who subscribed to their YouTube channels, followed their tweets on Twitter, and read their Stumblr blog or posts on Facebook.
This marks the fourth year for the event.
"This type of concert doesn’t require huge security guards. These are good kids,” said Lorie Tonti, Coordinator of Youth Services for the library. “The bands made first contact four years ago to do a summer library tour. We’ve booked them every year since.”
The reason why was easy to hear.
“I’m a big fan of The Remus Lupins and Ministry of Magic,” said Sydney Santiago, a 21-year-old Westchase resident. “I follow all of them on YouTube. I love them all to death. They are all really cool bands.”
Simply put, the bands were good, and the young men fronting them good-looking, talented, funny and interactive with their adoring audience.
The uniform was mainly tees, jeans, and flip-flops. Several dressed in Gryffindor colors of gold and red, sported the Slytherin crest, drew Sharpie darkmark tattoos on their arms or wore rainbow scarves, mismatched striped and dotted colorful socks, and one even held a wizard wand.
Yet all in this group were well-behaved, welcoming and accepting of everyone self-proclaimed as “nerds, dorks and geeks.”
“My favorite band is Ministry of Magic,” said Alana Fishkin a high school senior from Citrus Park. “This is a fun way to meet other people with similar interests, not just the music, but other nerdy stuff.”
Singer Mike Lombardo said his favorite part of performing was meeting the fans after a show.
“It’s so much better than just seeing comments of fans on YouTube," he said. "Here, we are in a roomful of friends.”
Though the decade of growing up with Harry, Hermione and Ron ended with the release of the last movie, through Mike and the other Wizard Rock bands, the series will live on.
Check out Wizard Rock on the following Youtube links:
Jason Munday: youtube.com/user/jasonmundaymusic
Luke Conard: youtube.com/lukeconard
Alex Carpenter: youtube.com/AlexanderCarpenter
Mike Lombardo: youtube.com/mikelombardomusic
Hayley Hoover: youtube.com/hayleyghoover