Extended Thoughts: Infinitus

It has been a long damn time for Extended Thoughts, hasn’t it? Welcome back, buddy, welcome back.  Anyways, here’s an article that might have been relevant three months ago! Yay!

 

Hokay, so I didn’t go to Infinitus, but once the con was over, I heard some very intriguing reports, so I asked for people to send me their experiences while under the pretense of presumably writing some article giving my thoughts on it, when really, I just wanted to know what happened, and first-hand accounts are the best way of achieving that, and hey, if I could somehow pull an article out of my curiosity (curi-ass-ity?), then so much the better.  Three months later, and I’m finally starting to write it.  Don’t really know why it took this long.  Whatevs, maybe someone will still be interested.

So, what really piqued my interest in hearing about Infinitus was when Wrockstock posted on twitter that people from Infinitus had been complaining about wizard rock, and we were both intrigued to find out why.  So, I’ll get to that later, but the people who sent me their experiences (and thank you to each and every one of you, by the way) talked with such passion about all things Harry Potter and con-wise, that I feel it would be a disservice to not at least briefly mention the non-wrock grievances, before delving into the most interesting (for me) matter.

Firstly, and most briefly, on the matter of the lectures, workshops, etc: This seemed to be a mixed bag, with some praising the educational portion of the conference, and some… unpraising it.  Screw you, it’s late and I’m tired.  Anyways, most people just didn’t even mention the speakers and whatnot, and I think some of that is because I did ask for the more wrock-y side of things, and that I suspect that the most vivid memories will be the ones of hanging out with friends, touring the park, and attending big events, not the lecture on “What Page 337 of Goblet of Fire Can Teach Us About The Fall Of The Yuan Dynasty”.

Secondly, and this is the non-wrock point that people brought up the most, but The Night Of A Thousand Wizards was… well it wasn’t a disaster, but it was massively disappointing for almost every person I interviewed.  Basically, the No1kW was an event where, starting at eleven o’clock on one of the nights, the Harry Potter amusement park would be open, and only for attendees of Inifinitus.  However, official Infinitus documents contained conflicting start times, the “Exclusive Q and A session” was basically just them showing the “Making of” documentary that the majority of people who are big enough fans to be there would have already seen, they closed the big ride, The Forbidden Journey, down early, some reports claim that the lines were longer than during the day (because everyone was at the con, doing con things), and while the free unlimited butterbeer seemed like a great thing at first, it was later revealed that it was all a plot by Voldemort to give Harry Potter fans tummyaches.

Now, a lot (but not all) of this is more the fault of Universal Studios than Infinitus, but still, people paid a good amount of money for this, and I think the Infinitus staff could have done more to make sure that the fans were getting what was advertised, or they could have at least changed the advertising.

Thirdly, I got a lot of complaints about bizarre scheduling (two major events conflicting happened more than once), lots of things not being on time (including one person saying that “Everything ran late. Everything,” though that has to be at least partially hyperbole), and Infinitus not following through on promises.  Now, when you are managing such a big event, unfortunately, it’s just unrealistic not to expect that some things are going to have to slide, so little things like not showing a collection of videos attendees made or things like that isn’t that big of a deal.  Disappointing, yes, but sometimes you’ve got to make those decisions.  However, Infinitus also failed to follow through on more important promises, including people buying raffle tickets for a raffle that was never actually held, and even worse, not having the promised vegetarian and vegan food options at some of the meals.  I’m sorry, Infinitus, but that’s just unacceptable, especially since some people paid more for extra meals, and were then unable to eat said meals.  (Of course, with the way con food usually tastes, maybe that’s not such a big deal…)

Hokay, now on to the meat of the matter – the wizard rock.  For ease of thought transfer from brain into yours, I have assembled my opinions in handy bullet form.  That is, a bulleted list, not actual bullets, as awesome as that would be.

  • Pub Night sounded like it was amazing, at least in theory, with MC Kreacher performing on stage WITH House of Black, and Swish and Flick having CHOREOGRAPHED CHEERLEADERS. #Win
  • Classic Wrock Night had some really cool moments, not the least of witch was an Umbridge cosplayer spontaneously joining JFF on stage for “Umbridge is Dumbridge”, the reunion of the Moaning Myrtles (whom I fear I may never get to see live), Jason Munday playing drums for The Remus Lupins after having “learned it from Rock Band”, and, according to JFF, one of the best acoustic performances from the Whomping Willows that Justin has ever seen, and Justin has seen roughly 99.99% (repeating of course) of them.

Now for the less effusive stuff:

  • FUCKING. COVENTRY. DANCING.  You see, before The Ball, they spent about an hour (!) trying to get people to learn a specific dance, instead of, you know, having the actual dance.  This set everything back an hour, which caused…
  • The Parselmouths to not be able to play, and Infinitus staff started yelling at everyone and threatening to cancel the next conference (eh, the world will end by then anyway).  However, Infinitus eventually let…
  • The Parselmouths play during the Leaving Feast.  However, this did not go over very well.  Reasons why later.

Okay, screw the bullet point nonsense (will I ever be able to write a linearly structured review? I doubt it).  I’m gonna jump ahead to the biggest complaint about the wizard rock at Infinitus, and the complaint that is most the fault of Infinitus – the sound systems and setup were, to put it nicely, complete and utter crap.  The sound system used for the wizard rock was “not adequate enough for a 1500+ capacity performance room.  If we were all playing in a small library conference room the sound system would have been perfect.”  Wow.  It just doesn’t get more damning than that. In this case, the onus is clearly and heavily upon the Infinitus staff.  I’m sorry, but when you rent a sound system that would be good for maybe 50 people, when you have more like 15oo, that’s a mistake that just can’t be overlooked.  I don’t think I got a single person saying that the wizard rock unequivocally sounded good.  There were lots of “I love this band, but they just sounded… off…” and “I don’t know this band, but they didn’t sound great, but that was probably the weird system”, and a couple “It sounded terrible, but I think wizard rock is terrible anyway because I let my gender biases and personal drama cloud my musical taste.”  I don’t know how many people were at Infinitus, even though I contacted HPEF a few times for stats and they never substantively replied, but there were definitely a lot of people going, and that’s a lot of people that had wizard rock misrepresented to them, which is a big shame.

On a related note, The Final Battle, the second wrock opera orchestrated (both figuratively and literally) by Lena of the Butterbeer Experience, also suffered from audio problems, this time mostly with things being really really quiet, even for people in the first couple of rows, and the wrong mics getting queued.  I’m glad that the Final Battle is being performed again at LeakyCon ’11, because I would hate for Lena’s last hurrah to be so anticlamactic.

So, you know how the Parselmouths weren’t allowed to play at the very show they were headlining, because somebody’s grandmother refused to lend them the seed money unless there was a specific type of dancing going on, but they were eventually allowed to play during the Leaving Feast?  Well guess what happened? TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES! HOORAY!  And really, while this is through almost no fault of the Parselmouths, I can really understand why people walked away from the con with a sour taste in their mouths for wrock.  Why?  Because during the very last official event of the con, the last meal, a time for sharing memories and twitter accounts, and saying goodbye, everyone attending this final event of the con had to listen to upbeat perky music, in the morning, with a bad sound system, whether they wanted to or not.  I mean, people were practically forced to listen wizard rock, and history has shown us time and again that forcing people to do something will not make them like it (except in fanfic).

Now, I do think the Parselmouths definitely deserved to play, but they played under not just less than ideal conditions, but some of the least ideal conditions you’ll find outside of a Twilight convention.  It would have been immensely unfair to the Parselmouths if they were not able to play at all, but I think wizard rock would have definitely been better received if they didn’t play when they did.  I mean, they should have been allowed to play when they were FUCKING SCHEDULED TO.

However, the ill-conceived Parselmouths performance was definitely not the biggest reason why wizard rock earned its detractors at Infinitus.  One big reason was the common room – the common room was billed as place to chillax that wasn’t your hotel room, but it was also a place for rotating wizard rock performances.  So, if you don’t want to hear wizard rock, or for that matter, any kind of music in the hang-out space, well, then tough titties.  Now, this isn’t the fault of any wizard rockers because Infinitus did intentionally set things up that way, which just seems incomprehensible to me.  How hard would it be to have one room for rotating wrock performances, and one room for… anything besides wrotating rock rotating wrock performances?

Now, I’ve dumped on Inifnitus and Infinitus staff a lot, but the last, and quite possibly biggest reason why some of the first post-Infinitus tweets contained wrock complaints rests squarely on the shoulders of wizard rockers, and the wizard rock community.  To put it bluntly, the wrock community acted like it owned Inifinitus, though I don’t think they meant to.  While some people were doubtlessly entertained by Alex of The Remus Lupins roaming the hallways next to long lines and singing songs, this, along with the sing-alonging disrupted the formal programming in nearby rooms, not to mention the people in line who didn’t want to spend their entire wait listening to other people sing music you don’t particularly care for.  More generally, I heard from both anti-wrock people and ardent wrock enthusiasts that wizard rock fans in general were disruptive of what was, ostensibly, an educational conference.

Now, I’m not trying to blame Alex or any wizard rocker or even wizard rock fans (though we all know that sometimes we can, ahem, get a bit out of hand), because its not like anyone was doing anything out of the ordinary.  HPEF has been around for a fairly long time, and certainly predates wizard rock (well, maybe not if you count that ONE song that The Switchblade Kittens did, but…).  And, well, the onus isn’t even that much on wizard rockers and fans – it’s really all Time’s fault.  It’s TWO THOUSAND AND TEN.  Harry Potter as a global corporate franchise has been around for a decade.  The Harry Potter fan community is still pretty damn large, strong, and active, but it’s because of its longevity that we’re starting to run into problems like this – while Harry Potter has always had cross-generational appeal and that’s been a great thing, things are starting to get a bit… factiony.  One of the responders to my queries said “Hopefully by the next HPEF con the average age of attendees will be back up to 30+ and I can be with people I understand and relate to, because I really do not get the younger kids at all.”

If that doesn’t illustrate a rather shocking divide, then I don’t know what does.  Obviously, there are some things with that statement – loving wizard rock and wanting to attend lectures and such are not mutually exclusive traits at all.  And yes, this quote was from one person (though somewhat similar sentiments were echoed by others), but I feel that this kind of thinking is not unique to some radicalist splinter groups (if one could ever describe any group of Harry Potter fans like that with a straight face).  Now, there are a lot of people who love to sing along with wizard rock, and also would legitimately want to go to a lecture entitled “What Page 337 of Goblet of Fire Can Teach Us About The Fall Of The Yuan Dynasty”, but there are also a fair amount of rather loud people who will travel to events like this pretty much so they can see Ministry and Whompy and the Lupins (especially the Ministry), and will scream and shout and wrock the fuck out at the concerts and such, but will give the rest of the programming the cold shoulder.

Also, and I have no factual evidence for this, but I think the “30+” group is showing up in force less and less at conventions because, well, when you’re over thirty, you have shit to do.  Careers, actual careers, to manage, a family to coax through the baby steps (sometimes literally), and all sorts of adult-y things.  However, the average wizard rock fan happens to be in that magic period of their life where they have disposable income, but don’t pay rent or property taxes, and more or less has the summers off (all of this is IN GENERAL, of course), and thus are more able to attend a convention than a 34-year old single mom.  I’m not saying that the time of the traditional educational conference-goer is passing, and most conventions are still going to have a very large focus on educational programming, but cons need attendees to exist, and a strictly educational conference without wizard rock, or a musical, or a wrock opera, or whatever, might be a risky undertaking.  I don’t see wizard rock leaving conventions any time soon, and we are currently experiencing the growing pains of a roughly ten year range of average ages.  I mean, there are people going to their first conventions this year who are 18-22 years old, which is the age that a large population of con-goers were back in Nimbus 2003.  Wizard rock just happens to be one of the more “physical” manifestations of this divide.

Again, let me say that I’m not blaming wizard rock for what happened at Infinitus, though there are definitely some wrock fan contingencies that behaved less than presentably, but HPEF tried to run a convention that would bring in both the older, canon-thumping crowd, and the younger, song writing and vlog making crowd (again again again, these are giant generalizations), and they succeeded.  Unfortunately, these two crowds are different from each other (obviously) and humans have never been very good when dealing with groups of people who are different.  I really don’t think that one group loves Harry Potter more than another, but they express their love in different ways, and these ways have the potential to clash, which is what happened at Infinitus.

So, yeah.  To bring things away from these more general observations on the fandom as a whole, and back to the specifics of the Infinitus 2010 conventions, and how well it ran, you may have noticed that almost all of my points were at least partially negative, and often entirely negative.  There is one thing that I’ve failed to mention – without fail, every single one of the emails, tweet conversations, facebook notes, etc. that I received contained a sentence that was somewhere along the lines of “But those things aside, I had a a lot of fun”.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.  If I can receive an email that has six full paragraphs filled with nothing but horror stories and complaints, followed by the sentence “Keep in mind, I had a wonderful time”, the Infinitus staff must have been doing something right.

 

Though, looking back over all those problems and complaints, I’m not sure what.

 

See you on Friday, maybe.  And please feel free to share your Infinitus experience in the comments – I would especially like to know what people think about my thoughts on the two(ish) groups of fans, and the divide at conventions, and stuff like that.  Oh, and I finally figured out how to add a search bar to the website.  So, that’s cool. #LameEnding #Whatevs

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41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cristiline
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 06:24:38

    This was a really thoughtful post! Personally, I don’t tend to follow convention news because I just get depressed that I wasn’t able to go, so I was totally unaware of all the problems at Infinitus (although it just makes me want to go to Leaky Con even more…). The gap between wrockers and the rest of the community is something I’m definitely aware of because I spend a lot of time on LiveJournal for my other fandoms, and I come across other people who are or used to be in HP fandom. It’s amazing how different the LJ community is from the fansite/wrock community, but LJ was really where the conventions started. In fact, the two spheres often seem to live in completely different worlds. Have you ever heard of Ms. Scribe? Back in 2003, this was one of the biggest conflicts in fandom history, with some crazy woman who made a ton of “sockpuppets” (fake accounts) to boost her popularity–even claiming to have been stalked by one of them. People on LJ STILL bring it up occasionally when things get wanky, but from experience, very few people on this side of fandom have ever heard anything about it. A large part of this is due to age and the type of fannish activities one does (things on LJ are often focused more on fanfic–often porny fanfic–and many of us were too young for that in 2003). Someone even wrote a 100,000+ word report on the incident entitled “The Ms. Scribe Story: A Fandom Biography.” You should check it out! Some parts even involve our own Melissa Anelli!

    … but back to the original point… I think you’re totally right about different areas of fandom. I went to Terminus in 2008, and I was often conflicted about which events to attend since so many were scheduled simultaneously. Especially lately, I’ve really been wanting to get back to my roots in HP fandom, back when I could spend hours discussing Petunia’s motives. But of course, wrocking out with friends is more EXCITING, so it can be hard to find the balance.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Oct 21, 2010 @ 09:42:19

      “Especially lately, I’ve really been wanting to get back to my roots in HP fandom, back when I could spend hours discussing Petunia’s motives. But of course, wrocking out with friends is more EXCITING, so it can be hard to find the balance.”

      That is an excellent point. That and writing this article have made me realize how for me, I’m not really in the Harry Potter fandom anymore, but pretty much exclusively the wizard rock fandom. The level of discourse about the canon for me these days never seems to rise much above snarky/silly comments or wizrock references – I haven’t done any analyzing or debating or whatever in years. And while that seems strange and sad to me, since I used to love to do that, I don’t feel any less fulfilled in my nerdom, but it does just seem a bit odd. It will be interesting to see at Wrockstock, a convention with an entirely wizard rock focus, what the level of discourse surrounding the actual canon is.

      Of course, a big reason for all of this is that the series is over. If there had been a Wrockstock in 2006 (and let’s just say for the sake of hypothetical argument that in this scenario there was a big enough fanbase and enough bands to support such a thing), or maybe it was in the spring of 2007 instead of fall, I’m sure that the time would be pretty evenly split between going to shows and listening to wrock, and arguing over what would happen in the last book. We just don’t have that anymore, and while there are still plenty of meaningful discussions and debates to be had, it’s not quite as easy and natural to get into them, because there are no big mysteries beyond when the hell the Scottish Book is coming out.

      To be honest, I’ve felt myself become less and less connected with the Harry Potter canon in the past three years, while my level of love for and engagement in wizard rock has only grown. Hmmm…. this could be a topic for another Wrock Wednesday… maybe… Thanks for your comment – really set of an avalanche of ideas.

      Oh, and yes, I know about Ms. Scribe, but only because I love reading the Fandom Wank Wiki. I once spent an entire evening reading the entire page and every LJ or JF associated with the FPB page. “We just won the world cup, so go boil your head” should never be used as a main contention in a Harry Potter debate.

      Reply

    • Melissa Anelli
      Oct 22, 2010 @ 08:37:20

      I didn’t realize I was mentioned in the MsScribe saga. But here’s a little known fact – she is an unnamed character in my book. Someone who is mentioned and not named, is actually the person who ended up being MsScribe.

      Reply

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  3. Arodhwen
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 09:59:25

    I didn’t really have a probably with the sound system except at the breakfast. (Also, like a tool I managed to miss the Midnight Comedy Slam.) The problem I had was that, mostly when Ministry was playing, all the fans in the audience were singing (shouting, in many cases) the lyrics along so loudly that I couldn’t hear the actual BAND singing. And maybe this is because the sound system wasn’t good enough, but I’m just left wondering why you’d go to hear a band and then do your best to out-sing them.

    And poor Harvey Putter. Every time they had a screening, something else was going on. I think maybe there was one screening that was “just” competing with lectures, but I was in TFB rehearsal.

    PS- Did anyone tell you about karaoke in Jake’s? A rather fantastic lady got up to sing “Popular” from Wicked, but had rewritten the lyrics so that it was “Potterhead.” The entire restaurant (minus one table of muggles) exploded into cheers and applause when they figured out what was happening. It was the best thing ever. (We were in the back and couldn’t quite see.) Actually, I felt a little sorry for all the non-attendees who were just on vacation that they weren’t warned about this.

    Reply

    • Amaluu
      Oct 24, 2010 @ 20:36:04

      The girl who sang the Popular/Potterhead FILK is none other than the fabulous Jennie Steinberg, who also played Moaning Myrtle in The Final Battle Wrock-Musical at Infinitus! You can catch her on this vlog: http://www.youtube.com/user/FromBostonToLA

      Reply

    • Jennie
      Oct 24, 2010 @ 20:44:03

      Yay, I love that you liked my Popular filk so much!! You just made my night by posting about this!

      Reply

    • Jennie
      Oct 24, 2010 @ 21:24:45

      Also, if anyone wants to see/hear this filk, I have it up on my YouTube:

      http://www.youtube.com/hogwartsgraduate#p/u/11/E-T-s07uvjQ

      Reply

    • Sunny
      Jan 17, 2011 @ 01:13:27

      Thank you for the “poor Harvey Putter” statement! We tried and tried to get a proper screening, but they kept rescheduling us and always putting us against AVPM. So sad. We’re all Potter fans who worked so hard on this film, and it has been basically spat upon. Wizard rock is king, I’m afraid.

      Reply

      • Arodhwen
        Jan 17, 2011 @ 08:21:28

        I’d say “you’re welcome,” but I’d rather say something like “I’m so sorry our fandom doesn’t have a wide enough focus to fangirl everything and it’s always scheduled at the same time.” On the bright side, that’s a problem even in wizard rock. I’m playing a show in March where several seriously popular bands are playing (yes, I am still freaking the heck out), and someone still posted a comment on the event that was like “do you think you could get Ministry?” Absolutely floored. That is what I was. But someone else was fangirling a new band I’ve never heard before, so that made up for it.

        /blather

        Reply

  4. Arodhwen
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 10:03:10

    I didn’t really have a problem*
    English fail.

    Reply

  5. Brad Ausrotas
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 10:04:46

    OKAY, I’ve actually talked about this before, in my Leakycon remembered article on the ‘Pedia! I’ve been to two HPEF cons, Prophecy 2007 and Infinitus, as well as Leakycon 2009. In terms of the actual CONFERENCE, Leakycon blew BOTH of them away.

    HPEF is pretty much synonymous for shit fucking management. It just is. It was that way 3 years ago at Prophecy, and I went to Infinitus expecting a lot more of the same. I got what I wished for. Everything was poorly managed- shit was delayed, scheduling conflicts, NoatW was a total disaster in that we had to wait in like for about 45 minutes before being allowed in- not to mention that the shops were filled to capacity ALL THE TIME, so you’d be better off doing shopping during the day. It was still fun, of course, but the planning was god-awful.

    And HPEF has never appreciated wizard rock. I quote Paul fucking Degeorge in my article directly saying that “Most cons don’t understand what is necessary for producing really killer rock shows and they don’t invest the time to learn or the money to hire the right people to execute. They think their job is done once they’ve announced the lineups. In my experience, LeakyCon has been the ONLY exception to this, and a big part of it is because they worked closely with Matt and myself and actually used our advice rather than ignoring it.”

    He’s totally right. The wizard rock at Prophecy had shit-poor sound, and Infinitus didn’t try to buck the trend. It was god-awful, where as LEAKYCON showed me how good wizard rock could really sound live. And why? Cause they got Paul Degeorge and freaking Matt Maggiacomo to do shit for them.

    Leakycon was just a lot better organized. I mean, maybe it was because Melissa was running Leaky with the full expectation of having to CONVINCE people to go. Whereas with the HPEF, they announce a con, people show. Nothing else necessary. They don’t give a fuck about what people’s experiences are, because it’s a goddamned HP con, and people will ALWAYS enjoy it simply for that, no matter how poorly managed it is. I can tell you this point blank, because despite the utterly horrible management of both Prophecy AND Infinitus, they’ve been some of the best moments of my life. They KNOW that people will continue to shell out for the cons, regardless of how much or how little effort they put into it.

    Leakycon didn’t have that to fall back on, and it showed. Maybe it was the MAGIC, or maybe because Leakycon was a smaller affair, though you think HPEF by now would’ve fucking got used to having massive attendance and compensated- one of the biggest problems I have with them is that they always seem to underestimate EVERYTHING and thus are under-prepared, but Leakycon just WORKED. There were none of the hang-ups of an HPEF con. Shit happened when they said it would happen, everything was satisfactory, I left that con feeling like I had 100% gotten my money’s worth, because everything went they way it should have.

    So anyway, the HPEF will never learn. The next one in 2013 will be no better, but people will still go anyway (myself included, if I can afford it).

    As for all of the Academic vs. Wizard Rock controversy, I talked about this in my article too, and it goes without saying:

    The academic crowd is on the way out. YES, HPEF is officially an educational foundation, it’s in the name, so the cons are TECHNICALLY “academic symposiums”, but I have a newsflash: now that DH is over, the time for academics is very much waning. I can see how the interest in academics would’ve been intense while the series was still underway (I attended a whole fuck-load of academic programming at Prophecy, since it happened JUST after DH was released). And for good reason, because everything was speculative and interesting and we wanted to keep discussing the books. We did. But now? Now? Not so much.

    Don’t get me wrong, academics absolutely still has a place in conferences. There will always be the crowd that will show up just for the lectures, and that’s it. Good for them. If they don’t want to have fun, hey, that’s cool. But should academics be the FOCUS of the conference? Abso-fucking-lutely not. Leakycon is again the saving grace here.

    Infinitus and Prophecy were “academic symposiums.” You know what Leakycon’s tagline was? “The most fun you can have with your robes on.” Notice the difference? Leakycon was all about getting Potter fans together and having FUN. Fun was the #1 priority and the management was all about maximizing the entertainment of its attendees.

    And it WORKED. It was so much fun and an amazing experience and everything ran better because of it.

    Now see the problem with the HPEF is that they’re not stupid. They know that their audience is the more fun-seeking wrock-loving kind of crowd now moreso than the stalwart academics and LJ-holdouts of days long-since-past. And so they try to make their conferences fun by announcing fun stuff: wrock, NoatW, whatever. But the problem is that because of what they are, the Harry Potter EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION, academics is still their #1 priority.

    This is bad. Academics are now only a minor part of the overall fandom, and thus should only be a minor part of the overall con experience. Catering to a tiny minority will make the majority pissed off. It just doesn’t make sense.

    So yeah, a conference shouldn’t be all about wizard rock. No way. But a conference should be all about FUN, and like it or not, wizard rock plays a large part in the “fun” experience for the overwhelming majority of attendees. You’ll just have to get used to that if you aren’t like it.

    As for the divide? It can be breached. I don’t judge people who don’t listen to wrock, even though I obviously love it myself. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, that’s totally cool with me. What people have to remember is that we’re ALL Harry Potter fans, and we’re all here because we love it. I don’t give a shit if you love writing about HP and you’re from live journal or if you love listening to wrock and you’re new to the fandom. I don’t care. If you like HP then you’re cool in my books, and that should be good enough for everybody else, too.

    In the end we have to realize that despite everything, despite all the pointless drama, we’re Harry Potter fans FIRST, and everything else second. And if you’re not, if you like wizard rock more than you like Harry Potter as a whole, then that’s where your problem is. You’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.

    And that bigger picture is why we’re all here in the first place.

    Reply

    • wrocknquidditch
      Nov 02, 2010 @ 09:07:44

      I just want to jump in here right quick… not all of this is in direct response to you, Brad… some of it is just “in general” type stuff.

      Also, please forgive any typos…I haven’t slept in well over 24 hours.

      As for academics being on their way out, I disagree. I’m one of those oddities that is BOTH an academic and a wrocker…and I write academically about wrock…and I give academic presentations about wrock and fandomy things… I’m working on a book, too. There’s actually a lot of interest in it. And there are quite a few of us wrock-academics around…and that number is growing.

      OUTSIDE of our own conventions.

      It always surprises me when I’m presenting at an HPEF con (done it twice now) and there are about 10 people in the room…when I go to a normal academic conference somewhere and have way more than that.

      Going back to what WrockSnob said, I think it has to do with the crowd that the cons are drawing lately. Let’s face it, if you have a con with a wrock lineup including Ministry and The Parselmouths, there are going to be a lot of folks who will make that trip. REGARDLESS of who else is playing. When you add on the Lupins, Myrtles, JFF, Whompy…and all of the other well-loved musicians…it’s just going to draw more wrockers.

      Where HPEF might be lacking is in finding something with similar appeal for the academics. Though, I also think that as wrockers, we’re frightening everyone else off. Which is kind of rude…because they were there first. We’ve kind of just…pranced into their domain and made ourselves at home…which is great…but it’s WILDLY inappropriate of us to push anyone else out because we can’t behave in the hallways.

      We should be going out of our way to be INCLUDING the other parts of the fandom in our activities, not by forcing them to be in attendance, but by inviting them and making it a welcoming environment. Because, I have to tell ya… to make a really bad comparison…

      Wizard Rock : HP Fandom /as/ Twitards : Everyone Else

      I think that, if we’re going to invade a conference that advertises itself very clearly as “EDUCATIONAL” … then we should be willing to respect those boundaries. As a whole. Just because there are more wizard rockers at that particular event doesn’t give us the right to be discourteous, disruptive, or demeaning.

      Wizard rock is *still* a pretty limited part of the fandom. It’s hard to think about that when you’re involved with it…because it seems like everyone would be involved… but if you were to draw a pie chart of the HP fandom, wizrock would still be a really small piece. Comparatively.

      Aside from that, the academics are important, in general, to the longevity of the fandom. It gives us legitimacy, it allows people to incorporate things they love into their daily work lives. It’s a positive thing…

      I just don’t think we, as wizard rockers, should be at war with the poor academics. It’s hard work for little to no reward.

      Reply

  6. Brad Ausrotas
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 10:08:02

    Also, I truly apologize to everyone who has to scroll past my WALL OF WORDS, but they’re sort of important words, so bare with me.

    Reply

  7. Rebecca
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 10:45:08

    Hmm. Insightful. I missed these ‘extended thoughts’.

    I think I agree with this overall. I was not at Infinitus, but heard similar reports. I was at Terminus in 08 (which notably wasn’t run by HPEF), and the wizard rock community side of the con seemed more integrated but at the same time less… in-your-face. It was a good balance, a balance that perhaps future cons should adopt.
    Yes, I think those different areas of the fandom exist, but they are
    definitely generalizations, and I think looking at previous cons (from Terminus to LeakyCon), there was and is more unity than division.
    HOWEVER.
    I also think another partial solution could be the creation of more
    all-wrock events similar to Wrockstock. I know Wrockstock is special and
    can’t be duplicated, and I’m not suggesting it should be. Events smaller
    than actual 4-day weekend cons but bigger than two hour concerts could
    fill the gap that wizard rock fans seek at cons, and that sometimes
    (Infinitus is case in point) disrupt the flow of the regular con-atmosphere. Alternately, as Brad Ausrotas suggests above me, cons need to be more like Leaky: focusing on fun, rather than on focusing only on wizard rock or only academics.
    I will acknowledge that wizard rock is, for some, just more exciting and their chosen place in the fandom. And time has a lot to do with that: as we get farther and farther from book seven, a big part of being a fan switches from anticipation and speculation to asking, “how can we keep this fresh?” But I think wizard rock fans should remember at least a bit about their roots in the canon, and the canon camp can try to appreciate, if from a distance, the many branches of the fandom.

    /thoughts.

    Reply

  8. Russ
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 11:08:02

    If no band comes out and names their next song/EP/album “What Page 337 of Goblet of Fire Can Teach Us About The Fall Of The Yuan Dynasty” I am gonna be PISSED.

    Reply

  9. Melissa Anelli
    Oct 22, 2010 @ 04:58:31

    LOL Brad: “everything went they way it should have” re: LeakyCon – not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment and support but if you think that it is just because we were good at hiding the truth! LOL! Our Saturday wrock show was unforgivably delayed because of a program book screwup, ,we had our share of audio snafus too. The opening event – remember the big line around the castle? Trust me, LOTS OF STUFF WENT WRONG. But that is unavoidable.

    But I do appreciate all your positive comments. 🙂 You do have a point that we did know we had to convince people to go – but it wasn’t that so much as, we feel like we know every one of our attendees personally and don’t just want them to go but want them to each, individually, have a freaking amazing time.

    The thing that really made LeakyCon work from our end, and this is the very thing that caused us to want to do a conference in the first place, is someting we talked about in our volunteer meeting right before the conference started. We all kept in front of mind that this was finally a place where people like ourselves could be ourselves without fear of ridicule, and we kept front of mind that we understood people had PAID A LOT OF MONEY to be there and to never, ever, ever take that for granted for even a second. You give LeakyCon your money, we work to give you an amazing time (and raise money for charity). When that’s the primary thought behind our volunteers’ efforts, it makes everything better. The staff is why LeakyCon worked the way it did.

    And yes, we’ve found it’s best to ask people who are experts in things to help us! Thank god for Paul and Matt! They really helped the wizard rock ROCK and will again. Steph Anderson is in the group of advisors too 🙂 You can bet we won’t shortchange the A/V. We understand the difference it makes.

    Infinitus, I thought, was great, and I say that from a conference planning perspective. As we get down to the serious planning now, for 2011, and as we appreciate JUST HOW MANY PEOPLE are going to be there, we are preparing ourselves for the inevitable: shit is going to go wrong. There will be problems. It’s just going to be. The park is going to be crowded – we can’t help that (though our park event is not going to have a stadium thing, there will be no having to “leave” the park before getting back into it for the event). The halls are going to be crowded. People are going to feel the things they like best are not best represented. You cannot have this large a group of people together and NOT have these kinds of problems. Far apart from ANY other HPEF event I’ve gone to, the staff at Infinitus was mostly kind, helpful, gracious, excited to make their attendees have the best time they could. Honestly, outside of major world-shaking eff-ups that’s going to be the yardstick for me. And there were no world-shaking eff-ups. Audio problems, organizational snafus. OK. Those happen. But I had a great time and felt that Infinitus itself wanted me to. That’s all I need!

    Brad, I am praying that LeakyCon is as seamless as you think it has a chance of being… but if it’s not, know it won’t be for lack of trying or without enormous care for every last one of our attendees!

    Reply

  10. Brad Ausrotas
    Oct 22, 2010 @ 07:00:51

    And there you have it folks, the woman herself.

    The primary difference here, Mel: at Prophecy and Infinitus, a LOT of things went wrong, and I still remember them, some of them 3 years later, and they coloured my conference experience. I can still remember how bad the sound was for the SINGLE wizard rock show at Prophecy.

    At Leakycon, in contrast, though things did indeed go wrong, the overall experience was so fantastic, and the problems so temporary, that they were essentially trivial. The lineup around the castle? I met a BUNCH of friends while waiting in that line, including Dinah- which is why I’m now an editor at the ‘Pedia! Yes, it was hot, but did anyone actually care? Did the crowd get antsy and downright mob-like like at Infinitus? You bet your ass we didn’t.

    Yeah, we had to wait for wizard rock Saturday night. I honestly forgot all about that till you mentioned it. Why? Because the wizard rock that night was so fucking great I would’ve waited for days without complaint.

    And yes, I’ve commended your staff (your ragtag band of badasses) in my article, and it’s so true. You guys worked your ASSES off to make Leakycon the way it was, and far be it from me to accuse the HPEF of not working hard, but they didn’t have anything on you.

    The fact that you, as the conference organizer, were so visible, and running around everywhere, doing everything, really gave testament to this. EVERYONE was working hard, from the lowest volunteer right up to Mama Anelli at the top.

    Honestly Melissa, you guys could (though I really hope you don’t) have some kind of world-shaking fuck up, and I would still walk away from the next Leakycon 100% satisfied, because you just do so much right. It’s not just a matter of, “Oh, yeah, that’s the way it should be,” with Leakycon, it’s “Oh, wow, they’ve really put thought into this,” with EVERYTHING.

    And that’s what makes all the difference.

    Reply

  11. Maggie
    Oct 22, 2010 @ 11:30:12

    I generally agree with your assessments, though I’m not in a perfectly objective place to comment; because of near-24/7 rehearsal & sewing for The Final Battle I didn’t actually attend any Infinitus “programming” until the Night of A Thousand Wizards, and after that all I did was go to the HPA’s ceremony, the AVPS screening, and the Ball on Saturday.

    But yes, in terms of A/V stuff, I am very excited for LeakyCon. The wrock in Boston in ’09 was PHENOMENAL and I trust Paul, Matt and Steph (and Melissa and her Rag-Tag Bunch of Badasses (TM)) to provide a similarly awesome experience. And with that kind of team at the helm, the sound/tech/light/mic situations for The Final Battle will be far superior this year and people will (we hope!!) be able to hear and see far better. Besides which, we’re going to (I think? right Melissa?) have the chance to have a full rehearsal! On the stage! With tech! Wonders never cease!

    LeakyCon also will be providing the option of LitDay, which is pretty much 100% “academic” book-nerdy-awesomeness, with a whole heck of a lot of fun thrown in.

    Needless to say, I’m stoked.

    Melissa, I very much hope that your staff all get to wear badges that say “Melissa’s Rag-Tag Bunch of Badasses, est. 2009”

    Reply

    • Melissa Anelli
      Oct 22, 2010 @ 13:54:02

      I should totally make them name tags 🙂

      YES we are going to get you guys a rehearsal. It’s going to be at an INSANE time, but, we’ll get it done. You can’t do a musical with no feel for the stage. The one we’re, you know, BUILDING.

      Oh god, you guys. The things we have planned. So excite.

      Also LitDay is about to get even more nerdy awesome. So is our academic programming – we’ll have less of it than Infi did but we’re going about it in a new and freakin great way.

      SO EXCITE.

      Reply

      • Maggie
        Oct 22, 2010 @ 17:54:42

        *happy dance*

        Also, I found some truly heinous (=actually awesome) old-lady-looking fabric the other day, and I so totally wanna make you an old lady-ish dress to go with the robes. John’s Dawlish outfit is getting redone too. Way more awesome.

        Reply

        • Melissa Anelli
          Oct 22, 2010 @ 18:41:11

          LOL oh god. I’m going to need help even finding those couple hours at LeakyCon to reprise the role. We’ll make it work, John and I have to duel again and on Leaky’s time 🙂

          Reply

  12. Brad Ausrotas
    Oct 22, 2010 @ 12:15:10

    Just for the record, it’s BAND of Badasses, and trademarking it is a GREAT idea. I could license it out to Leaky for use at conferences xD

    Reply

  13. Abby
    Oct 22, 2010 @ 12:52:38

    Hey gang!
    I’m the first person to insist that Wrockstock is a music festival and not a convention but this topic is right up my alley, so I gotta chime in a little bit.
    Anything I could say about conventions with wrock vs Wrockstock is just pointless, really. They are completely different types of events, with the exception of having many of the same attendees and being a good place to meet other fans.
    The reasons I started Wrockstock three years ago are pretty much the same as the stuff mentioned in the article… I felt that wizard rock needed it’s own big weekend away from non-wrockers, and Muggles too for that matter… I still feel that way and I am very glad to see lots of other wrock-only events popping up all over. I’m of the mind that wizard rock just doesn’t fit at a convention the way we’d like it to, so why keep trying to put a square peg in a round hole?
    I think that’s what happened at Infinitus… at every convention to some degree, really. It just didn’t fit they way it should have.
    On that tack, I did hear that a lot of the non-wrock people at Leaky hated the wrock as much as they did at Infinitus, as they do at every event. Some folks just don’t like it. That’s their choice.
    I do think Leaky was very smart to use wizard rock as a form of evening entertainment instead of trying to load it right on top of academic programming, (the saturday daytime show excepted, but obviously it had to happen then because the ball was in the castle that night).
    I was at Terminus and the only nice thing I can say about “Wrock Chicago” is “clusterfuck”. It was cool that it had it’s own day, but they messed up when it came to executing it. 35 bands in one day is just stupid. If the Diagon Alley guys hadn’t put Wrock Wreggies together, a lot of us would have left Chicago the day after Wrock Chicago and skipped the con entirely… I also think that the “Storyville” event at Phoenix Rising was just something they tacked on the last minute once they realized it would get them more attendees & media attention. Granted, we had a blast that night, but still. I also heard the wrockers were treated terribly at Prophecy and Portus, even though I wasn’t there, I tend to believe it.
    All the more evidence of my square peg theory and reasons for supporting & encouraging wrock-only events like Wrock Wreggies, the OKC ball, NYCWRF, H&H, the Yule Balls and the like. If someone asked my honest opinion on what wizard rock fans should spend their money on, it’d be those events and of course Wrockstock, with no bias whatsoever.
    Anyway, see some of y’all in a few weeks. 😀

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Oct 22, 2010 @ 20:25:29

      JUST TWO WEEKS! Woo.

      Reply

    • Arodhwen
      Oct 23, 2010 @ 06:08:16

      Incendio over in PA in June is pretty boss, too.

      Reply

      • Abby
        Oct 23, 2010 @ 07:24:08

        Are they (Incendio) annual? That’d be awesome… Regardless, I support any all-wrock events, even if I didn’t list them specifically.
        I shoulda just said the following in the first place but just thought of it…
        If you’re mostly JUST into wizard rock, you like to get a little loud & most of why you go to events is for social reasons, I’d recommend you skip the conventions and just go to the wrock-only events. Any of them.

        If you like fanfic, cosplay, book discussion, debate, lectures, meeting celebs/BNF’s, etc, AND you like wrock, then any con should be able to serve you roughly the same platter. Seriously. I’ve been going to cons for 20 years. The only major difference I’ve found between other cons and HP-only cons is that 80% of the HP folks are “con-virgins” and have yet to realize that this is just how fan-cons are so they complain a lot. Lines, drama between factions, organization flaws, “talent” misbehaving… Yawn. It’s just the nature of the beast. No convention is exempt. It’s just what happens.
        Of the all cons I’ve attended, HP & otherwise, not one really stands out as being “totally different” than the others. But the wrock-only stuff I’ve been to… Best times of my life.

        Reply

  14. David
    Oct 27, 2010 @ 19:34:02

    Very well put Wrocksnob. I concur completely with your summary of events, though I would add another couple of anecdotes/issues.

    Melissa’s account of being impressed with the staff sounds great… sadly my wife (then fiance) and I had slightly different experiences.

    To quote my wife’s post on the HPEF boards:
    “Then one of my friends told me about how her teenage daughter was legitimately in line for Star Kid, got sick and threw-up, went back to her hotel room to change clothes and for some fresh air, came back, and was told that she was not allowed back in line but had to go to the very end. She was apparently physically escorted down the line, while she was crying. Seriously? This is unacceptable! At the final battle, one of my friends left before the show started to use the bathroom and was told that it was fine to do that. I don’t know how things got changed so quickly…”

    I also found that we weren’t allowed to form a line for Last Battle until shortly before the production, instead allowing people to basically just form a rabble. We got there really early because it was the most important thing in the whole conference to us, and were only told “there’s no line” after already waiting an hour. I can understand the idea of not having a line trailing across the conference centre, but if people care enough then they *are* going to get there early, and so you should be prepared to deal with that in a fair way. Don’t like it? Really, that’s kinda tough… what do you expect? It’s human nature.

    From these and other little quibbles I really didn’t think the staff were well-briefed or prepared.

    There was also the issue of getting into the Final Battle only to be sat behind the camera man, who apparently had to remain standing for the whole production, and couldn’t be in the aisle for safety reasons. We were lucky enough to be moved after waiting all that time, but someone else will have had to sit there. They should either not have placed seats directly behind the camera man, or had a bigger aisle in order to get past the safety issues.

    Finally I was a bit annoyed with the lighting-battle at the ball, where the lights were too high to dance comfortably for me at first, were turned down, then back up, back down etc. Apparently that was also for safety reasons, but I would go as far as to say that if the hotel doesn’t want lighting that low then they’re not prepared to host such an event… I would have taken it up with them in early planing: Atmosphere is everything.

    These issues alone wouldn’t be so bad, but just on top of everything else it left a bad taste in our mouths. I think it was probably the worst organized con I’ve been to, if I’m honest with you. (I’ve attended Prophecy, Portus, Terminus, LeakyCon, Azkatraz and Infinitus, along with one Wrockstock and Wrock the Boat… so I have some experience :p) Of course mileage will vary just based on the number of screw-ups for which you happen to be present, or hear about.

    Currently I rate LeakyCon as the best, probably followed by Terminus. All the HPEF cons have had major issues, though they varied quite a bit in type. Portus issues were mostly logistics: wizard rock sound issues and a not-very-fun ball, except for the wizard rock performance, which was awesome. Prophecy issues were rude staff and anti-fun type stuff, the kind of thing that makes people most angry… though the logistics were pretty good on the whole from what I saw. Still had sound issues apparently, but as my first con I honestly didn’t notice. Azkatraz… actually, I guess Azkatraz went pretty well aside from human drama. I just think the hotel choice messed it up rather a lot, because I didn’t bump into people the way I usually do.

    Anyway, I’m very much looking forward to LeakyCon next year! I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the best con yet.

    Reply

  15. Flick
    Nov 08, 2010 @ 21:01:17

    It wasn’t the sound system so much, at Infinitis, that was the problem but that the main wrock concerts were in an humongous ballroom. Even if there was a peak attendance of 500 people at the concerts (I’m not good at determining crowd sizes but that seems about right) the room could have held about 1,500 more (and did during the ball where the music sounded fine). Few rock bands of any sort would have sounded good in that under-filled ballroom. 

    I felt the same way about the castle at Leakycon, as amazing a venue as that was and the sound system in the castle was the best I’ve ever had the privilege of performing with and yet the space was so huge that the bands sounded like they were a mile away from you. 

    Wrockstock’s main stage, on the other hand, is in a perfectly sized space. The bands always sound good even though the sound system is meant for a room half that size. 

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Nov 08, 2010 @ 23:32:56

      Also, they have a really good sound crew, or at least they do from an audience member’s perspective.

      Reply

      • Abby
        Nov 09, 2010 @ 11:35:19

        No… Our stage crew is pretty much the shit. Hand picked by yours truly, headed up by the brilliant & lovely Stephanie Anderson and seconded by Paul Johnson, the man with perfect pitch and practically bionic ears.
        Those gigantic wooden rafters in the ROW help create good acoustics, as well as the carpeting and the slope of the ceiling. All part of the plan. We went in there and did a bunch of shouting, tested for echo and stuff the first year and realized we’d just gotten freakishly lucky.
        Word to your mama.

        Reply

        • wrocksnob
          Nov 09, 2010 @ 12:31:51

          Heh, that’s an awesome story. It also put in my mind the picture of a bunch of wizards driving around the country and breaking into barns and shouting a lot and then going “Eh, could have better natural reverb – let’s see if we have any luck in Minnesota!”

          Reply

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