LeakyCon Reflections: Rock Night 1

[Thank you for visiting The Wrock Snob and reading this article! I’d love for you to jump right into the reviewy goodness, but first there is some unfortunate business to take care of. It is not in my nature to tell you specifically what or what not to buy and who to support – I tell you what I thought about an album, and if my tastes seem to align with yours, you might want to heed my suggestions. However, I must take this time to personally exhort that you do not monetarily support the bands The Remus Lupins or Ministry of Magic. The full reasons are unsettling and possibly triggering, so please proceed with caution, but if you want the full details click here. Simply put, it has been revealed that certain member/s of both bands did destructive, upsetting, and highly problematic things. While I can see the value of reviewing art no matter what the artist did on a grand society-level scale, I cannot morally allow myself to condone the financial support of these monsters, nonetheless exhorting people to do so. Now it is entirely possible this copypasta’d retroactive warning was placed on a negative review, making this sidebar somewhat moot, but I still feel it necessary to make these matters clear. Again, for full details and rumination click here, otherwise, please enjoy the article.]

Hey all! I’m back from my trip to Portland and am happily ensconced back in my Moonbase On The Moon. I’m going to do a series of shorter articles about my LeakyCon experience, starting with my thoughts on the performances at Night One of Leaky Rock. Just a couple heads-up – I’m only going to be reviewing the acts of wizard rockers/people connected to wizard rock, mostly for the simple fact that due to various circumstances I was late to both Rock Nights and ended up missing the opening acts, which were not made up of wrockers/former wrockers, so if you really were waiting on the edge of your seat to hear what I thought of Kirstyn Hippe or Rae Sterling, I’m afraid you’re gonna be disappointed. Also, I did spend my time actively trying to enjoy the music, and not writing down band order or setlists, so some minor details might be off, and I apologize for that.

Anywho – Tonks and the Aurors! Steph put on a damn good show, playing her classics – “Charlie Weasley”, “I’m An Auror”, “We Are Magic”, as well as a song from her West Wing side project. I would have loved to see her play my personal favorite song of hers, “Lost”, but it’s a song that didn’t seem to get much attention aside from my slavish replays on iTunes, and “Charlie Weasley” is a damn fun song to rock out to with other people. I’ve said it before on twitter, but “Charlie Weasley” is my personal vote for the most righteously fun break-up song in wizard rock, in the same vein of such classics of the genre like They Might Be Giant’s “Pet Name”.

It was nice to see Alex Carpenter on bass, though it cemented my new favorite activity of the con being watching Alex get distracted by shiny things. During the somewhat lackluster (though well-written) Opening Ceremonies skit, Alex played the role of the 11th Doctor, and was just kind of… wandering around on stage, back and forth behind everyone. Then during Steph’s set, a wayward piece of confetti end up slowly falling down from the rafters near Alex, and there was this heart-stoppingly hilarious moment, when Alex just turned his entire being to quizzically follow the trajectory of this single tiny piece of paper, still playing bass all the while.

Next we had Lauren Fairweather, though her first two songs I only heard through the bathroom, and they still sounded decent. Lauren’s performances can be categorized with no other word than adorable, not the least of which because after all this time she still seems so genuinely surprised and happy that people like her music, which is a highly endearing trait. She might not have the manic energy of someone like Justin, but even though she’s on a stage in front of hundreds, she still finds a way to connect to the music. For the first half of the set she had what I had at first thought was a midi keyboard with a weird synth, but when I exited the Little Snob’s Room, I found that it was live fucking flute, which was a really cool touch, and a nice way to try and bring more of her acoustic and somewhat airy album sound to the stage.

Unfortunately, the flute, while a nice choice, ended up not really adding much – it really kind of felt like the flute was just wandering around the songs, lost and somewhat confused. The flute noodling add some more sonic depth, but ultimately was more of a distraction. When the flute player switched somewhat surprisingly to drums, though, things got a little more cooking, and Lauren even played one or two Myrtles songs, which was nice. Probably her best performance was on “Black Santas”, which is just a flat-out fun and funny song, and was a nice counterpoint to “OMFG SNAPE/LILY FEELS BE SAD GUYS”, which, hey, works out great on an album, but it can sometimes be kind of awkward to stand in a huge crowd of people looking more and more overcome with Snily Feels.

Next we had the talent powerhouse of the con, with a surprise full band reunion of The Remus Lupins, playing all Lupins songs (with a single Doctor Who song thrown in because hey Leaky’s multi-fandom now and Doctor Who is cool), and with the especially-surprising addition of Christian on stage as well, playing a chordophone of one type or another. I didn’t even know that motherfucker was coming to Leaky, and to have him onstage with a full band reunion of TRL was so cool I literally pinched myself.

Well, to be honest, I started pinching other people, until a Leaky staff politely asked me to stop.

The setlist was damn good, playing a couple songs from every TRL album, including “Loosen Your Tie”, which I had definitely not expected to ever hear played live again. I would have loved to hear “Snape”,which would have been nice to have in a reunion show, seeing as it was the very first Lupins song, but still, it was a damn good set. Everyone was on point, especially Toby on the drums, whom I didn’t recognize at first without the dreads. As mentioned on this site, I had expected it to be an Alex Carpenter show, with whoever filling in on drums and such, and I was hoping to have two Lupins songs at the very least. To have an entire set, including a couple older ones, was a treat I was completely unexpecting.

Speaking of unexpected, we next had a surprise Oliver Boyd set. While it was nice to see Christian on stage again, the set was inappropriately brief, did not contain any of his classic songs, and had this random lady on stage the whole time. This was by far the worst part of the whole performance – it was like he was playing to her, and not his legions of adoring fans! I was entirely put off by the whole event, and am sad to say that Christian lacked any of his usual verve or panache, and the whole thing was entirely, summarily awful. By far the worst part of all of LeakyCon.

Nah, I’m just kidding – it was great to hear Christian’s voice live again, and while we could all tell where it was going, when he actually proposed, I will admit that there were some tears on this end. BUT IT WAS ONLY BECAUSE SOMETHING GOT IN MY EYE. Probably another wayward piece of confetti.

Obligatory needlessly inflammatory comment about how awful the Ministry of Magic set was, followed by unfunny backpedaling. Now that that’s out of the way, the MoM boys put on a decent show. It was disappointing they couldn’t round up the full crew, but hardly surprising with everyone spread all across the country the way they are. The setlist wasn’t at all surprising, but filled with their classic hits from across all four albums – “The Lightning Struck Tower”, “The Bravest Man I Ever Knew”, “Don’t Leave”, etc. I was most excited to hear Lovegood, which is one of my favorite of their songs, and also my favorite of their songs that they were most likely to play (while it would have blown me away, I wasn’t really counting on hearing “Phoenix Lament”). I would have liked to hear “The Curse” as well, since that was the other halfway decent song on Magic Is Might besides “Don’t Leave”, but it was a solid setlist with no real disappointments.

The only surprises were in the form of guest vocals by Lauren on “Accio Love” (not too surprising given she played her own set just an hour previously, but still nice) and Kristina on “Goodbye Privet Drive” (somewhat more surprising, if you didn’t read the schedule ahead of time and know that she conducted a couple panels), and the solo songs. Jason did “Beneath Your Scar”, a cover of a song from the Muggle Relations album, and Luke did a brand new song about… something. It was actually kind of laid-back, yet still dancey – not necessarily the best thing to try and get a roomful of people dancing, but enjoyable to listen to. The highlight of this song was when Luke tried to do a stage dive. The lowlight was when I ended up in the somewhat uncomfortable position of having to hold up Luke Conard’s ass – with my head. Now, while this was obviously somewhat awkward, the most troubling question was – where was I supposed to put my hands?

I will leave this mystery to you, dear reader.

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