This week’s Wrock Wednesday is a special guest post from Scott Vaughan, one half of the wizard rock duo the Blibbering Humdingers. The Humdingers have made a name for themselves with their catchy, incredibly funny songs and have played countless shows, ranging from libraries to living rooms to Wrockstock to LeakyCon. Scott has some great insights on both performing as well as putting together shows, and he’s graciously shared some of his convention experience with us in his following article.
As part of the Blibbering Humdingers, I go to lots of Harry Potter-themed conventions and wizard rock festivals and run into many people who have never attended a regular old generic fandom convention.
These things happen all over the place. There’s probably a few per year that happen within a few hours drive of you. They’re usually at hotels with rooms for around $100 a night and usually cost MUCH less than your typical HP-themed production. I would love to see more of my HP friends attending these sorts of affairs.
How are these different from a typical HP con?
- These affairs usually span multiple fandoms, but include much of the stuff we wizards also like: Star Wars, Doctor Who, Firefly, LOTR, Zombies, Comic Books, Anime, Star Trek, and all kinds of Sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal stuff. Tons of cosplay, fan-films, local genre authors, musicians, artists, etc.
- Most of these cons don’t compensate scheduled performers other than admission and maybe a merch table. You’re on your own for a hotel room. Don’t even think about getting paid.
- Gaming room – there is usually a room where people are playing everything from Munchkin to D&D to Warhammer to Cards Against Humanity and all kinds of other games. Check it out.
- Typical attendance for local volunteer run cons is usually 500-1500 people. Bigger professional shows might have several thousand people.
- The audience tends to be a little bit older than your typical HP function, but they’re just as socially awkward as us.
- They usually have a “con suite” where you can get snacks and drinks during the day. This is part of your admission. Some con suites even provide simple meals as part of your admission.
- Getting a table in the dealer room is MUCH cheaper than a typical LeakyCon or HPEF function. Also, admission is usually much cheaper.
Why does Scott think the wizard rock community needs to get more involved?
I’ve helped to run many, small, local wizard rock and HP events. It takes a LOT of work to pull off some of these things. Existing cons already have an infrastructure and publicity machine. They come with a built-in audience. By working more with the local fandom, we won’t need to stretch ourselves so thin. We can continue to grow and thrive locally, and won’t need to rely so much on a few big, expensive HP-centric events for chances to perform. You don’t have to be an independent musician trying to drum up gigs at libraries and bookstores.
How do I find and approach a local con?
One of my favorite resources is: http://upcomingcons.com/ It lists everything from local gaming cons to big anime shows to comic book conventions. I mostly attend smaller things around the southeast – ConCarolinas, RavenCon, StellarCon, MarsCon (the one in VA, not WI) but have also been to bigger things like Dragon*Con, Animazement, and the Ohio Valley Filk Festival.
If you’re looking to become a performing guest, you have to reach out and contact these folks. They don’t know the wizard rock scene, though they may have heard of it. If you can find the person in charge of programming or “filk programming” they are often the best people to talk to. Offer to play a show. Offer to bring your PA and sound gear (if you have it) for others to use. Send them a link to your website or offer to send a sampler CD. Let them know what other shows you’ve played (be it libraries, HP cons, etc)
Another very easy way to get on the schedule is to simply buy your way in. Go ahead and pre-register. Tell the organizers you will be attending. If they have time in the schedule you’d love 30-60 minutes to perform. If that fails hope they have some “open filking” you can sit in on and get a few numbers in.
What is filk?
The word “filk” means different things to different people, but in general it means the “music of the people of fandom”. It is a community very much like the wizard rock community. They get together and share music about their favorite fandoms. They’re very accepting and inclusive, just like us. In fact, most filkers go so far as to even consider wizard rock a sub-genre of filk. Many of them wonder why they don’t see more wrockers participating in the filk community.
What should I perform?
- Rather than just playing your typical set that every wrock fan knows, think about pieces that are easier for casual HP fans to get into. You might even sprinkle in a few songs about other fandoms into your set.
- You might want to work up a short 30-60sec introduction to explain pieces that are geared more toward a hardcore HP audience. • The filk crowd tends to be more interested in lyrics than wicked-cool guitar solos or dancing.
- Don’t expect much clapping along or people jumping up and dancing.
- Remember your audience is older, and doesn’t like things that are *too loud*. (Hip-hop, rap, screamo and metal are also not very popular with this older crowd. Think about the artists your parents listen too.)
What if I’m not a performer but I LOVE wizard rock?
You should attend these cons too. Volunteer. Contact the “con chair” or the programming director and tell them you’d love it if they got some wizard rock at their con. You can even volunteer to put together a wizard-rock track yourself.
For our readers – what non-HP conventions have you been to? What did you like or dislike about them? What advice would you give to someone who has only been to a LeakyCon or an HPEF conference? Let us know in the comments below!