First, for all of you out-of-touch people out there who have not heard, there is a music craze sweeping the nation. Fans mostly consist of 11-15 year-old girls, but as the New Kids on the Block can tell you, that is an excellent fan base to have.
It's called "Wizard Rock" or "Wrock" for short, and it basically started with a couple of brothers writing Harry Potter-inspired music and playing it for their friends. They are now known as Harry and the Potters, and they are quite popular indeed, recently playing a show at the famous Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill as part of their national tour.
Down the road from Harry and the Potters, two other brothers (okay, half-brothers technically) started up a kind of parody band as the arch-nemesis to their buddies' band, calling themselves, naturally, Draco and the Malfoys. And thus began the huge explosion of Wrock bands all over the country.
My library was fortunate enough to host four of the top Wrock bands in the country this weekend as a stop on their summer tour, including the aforementioned Draco and the Malfoys. Lindsey Dunn, a mighty fine Young Adult Librarian I am fortunate enough to have on my staff, contacted the band more than two years ago and asked them to make a stop here on their next tour. They emailed back and said they would love to play here, and they would be in touch.
Long story short, they emailed about four months ago and said, "Hey! We can be there on July 6th between a show in Virginia and a show in Atlanta." Despite the fact that the date was on a holiday weekend and smack in the middle of Lindsey's vacation, she said, in essence, "Bring it." And bring it they did.
Their tour includes themselves, plus Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills, The Whomping Willows, and The Remus Lupins. So Lindsey kicked into high gear to ensure this was the best program in our library's history. She got a sponsor to pay for them to be here. She got on the phone to find out how if we could get special permits to allow more people in our building for a special event. We couldn't. So she found out how we could get a stage set up outside and somehow convinced the musicians that early July in North Carolina "really isn't so bad."
After lots more coordination with other county departments, the plan was set and the big day arrived. Due to her careful planning and the assistance of several other staff members, every detail was thought out and accounted for. And that was a really good thing when, at 6:15 pm, about an hour and a quarter into the show, one of North Carolina's world famous lightning storms descended upon us.
For safety reasons, the band could not simply play through the storm. Electrocuting people in our parking lot is generally frowned upon by upper management, and no one wanted to clean it up, besides. So we started letting people into the building while the band tried to figure out what they would do. Getting their equipment inside was out of the question. We had given out rain tickets for the first people who arrived... up to the number we are allowed in the main part of the building. As I expected, many people simply chose to pack up and go. At our highest count outside, we had about 250 people watching the bands. We only had room for 130 inside, once you also factored in our staff and sponsor's staff. But we do have a few side rooms that gave us a little more space, so we put people in those two rooms, explaining that they were there as shelter, and they may not be able to see the rest of the show from there.
As it turned out, once everyone was out of the parking lot, only a little more than half of the people with tickets were in the main room, which gave us enough leeway to empty out our side rooms. Our sponsors seemed to be less than happy that we had to constantly be counting bodies and were possibly going to turn people away, but laws is laws, folks, and the two sheriffs deputies there were not about to cut me any slack on this one.
In what I feel was remarkable time, we were back up and running again by 7pm. The sponsor has his own little Wrock band, and they entertained the crowd while our headliners moved in what they called a "Violent Femmes" array of equipment... a bass and amp, two acoustics, and a snare drum. No mics. The Whomping Willows finished out their set, which Mother Nature had so rudely (and dramatically) interrupted, and we proceeded with a very "unplugged" session. In fact, Draco and the Malfoys really got into it by tossing out their playlist and taking requests only.
One of my biggest concerns was that the crowd would simply trash the library, having been granted practically free reign to do so. But instead, as the picture below attests, they actually sat down in a more orderly fashion than any storytime group we've ever had in the library.
They sang along, danced when prompted, but only in a very polite, orderly fashion, and when the concert was over (and MAN it was surprisingly good!), they hung out for only 15 or 20 minutes to buy merch and have the band sign stuff. In fact, the hardest folks to push out the door were the musicians. They are a totally awesome, friendly group of guys, and they were acting like they were going to hang out all night. Fortunately, this gave us a chance to get this picture:
Eventually, they did head out to the pavillion to break down their stuff. As they were doing so, they told us, with what I feel was sincere honesty, that this was the most fun concert they had yet to play. The chaos, the unpredictability, and the REALLY fantastic audience made it work for them. And me. Don't tell, but I've been listening to some of their stuff now. shhhhhhhhhh