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Review: Shauna Carrick “Songs from Hogwarts” EP

Tue, Jan 9, 2018

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Ireland has long been a welcoming home to fantastic wizard rock (hello, Romilda Vane and the Chocolate Cauldrons!) and they’ve gifted us with another amazingly talented musician – Shauna Carrick.

Shauna recently released her first EP on Bandcamp, “Songs from Hogwarts” in November, and it’s comprised of 5 quick but fun tunes that will be sure to get you singing along in no time at all.

The EP kicks off with “Slytherins Have More Fun”, an ode to the fact that Slytherins have a heck of a lot of fun, regardless of what all those other jealous houses say about them behind their backs. The chorus harmony vocals are a delight, and it’s impossible to listen to this song without tapping your foot… even if you’re a Gryffindor.

“We Fight” brings us Shauna’s voice against a solo acoustic guitar, and some impassioned lyrics exhorting the defenders of Hogwarts to stand and defend their castle during Deathly Hallows. The chorus of this song is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.

Shauna’s ukulele comes back out for “Justice for Lavender”, a song that gives Lavender her due for putting up with Ron’s crap and fighting valiantly during the Battle of Hogwarts. Her fate remains unknown in canon, and Shauna hopes that she made it through the battle OK.

Cho Chang gets a turn in the spotlight with “(Cho Chang) It’s Not Your Fault”, with Shauna correctly pointing out that she had a whole heck of a lot to deal with as a young teenager, and she still came back to Hogwarts to help fight.

The EP concludes with “Something Cute About Friendship”, a meta-wrock song about all the wonderful friendships that wizard rock has brought to Shauna’s life. I’m pretty sure all of us can identify the sentiment behind this upbeat closer.

Do you like wizard rock? Do you like well-written songs about Harry Potter? Do you like good music in general? If you answered YES to any of the above (and you should have said YES to all three), then head on over to Bandcamp to purchase “Songs from Hogwarts“, give Shauna a follow on Twitter, and have fun wrocking out.

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Review: [Explicit] MC Gryf: Witches Ain’t Shit

Sun, Jan 7, 2018

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Note: This EP is not remotely safe for work or sensitive ears.

MC Gryf asserts himself from the very first verse of “Where My Mudbloods At?”: “I been writin’ rhymes since Albus Dumbledore bit the dust.” This first entry on his “Witches Ain’t Shit” EP is an aggressive one, with MC Gryf talking shit on Slytherin House, while also celebrating his status as a mudblood. “They hate on Hermione, a mudblood just like me, if you wanna draw that wand and throw a curse then just try me.”

“Marauder’s Map Rap” opens with a synth-heavy narration of the introduction to the map we all know and love. He also throws in a Gandalf quote, which made this reviewer’s nerdy heart skip a beat: “I might be showing up a minute later than you, but a wizard shows up exactly when he means to.” What follows is a walk-through of MC Gryf spying on each House in their common rooms. Ravenclaw: “They’re just sittin’ there studying, being boring as balls.” Hufflepuff: “Cedric Diggory’s got a big-ass line of witches to bone.” Slytherin: “Oh my God, what a mess, Draco’s tryin’ to rhyme and ain’t nobody impressed.” Based on those assessments, it should come as no surprise that Gryffindor gets the most praise in this song.

“Hit It Like a Hufflepuff” is a raucous, raunchy anthem akin to old school Swish and Flick jams. The phrase “let me show you my Elder Wand” appears, and that should be all you need to know. Next up, “I Got Magic Flow” demonstrates exactly that. This song is a slower tempo, which lets MC Gryf rap with a chill, quiet confidence.

The last track, “We’re Brave,” opens with a drum and bass line reminiscent of your favorite Janet Jackson jam. MC Gryf espouses the traits of his house: Gryffindor’s don’t quit, even when there’s a whole world telling you that your worst fears are going to come true. “Bravery is feelin’ fear and goin’ in anyway.” The rest of the song is more uplifting than any other track on the EP. MC Gryf raps about how, if you really want to be brave, don’t give up on your dreams: “walk for it, run for it, apparate or fly for it, fight for it, cry for it.” In MC Gryf’s eyes and final song, we’re *all* brave, and we all have a capacity to *be* brave.

To finish, I need to be completely honest with you, readers. I wish I could have just given you a transcript of every single verse on this entire EP. That’s how good it is. Every single line is a true gem of wizard rap. Go check out his Valentine’s single, too: Chocolate Cauldrons of Love.

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Review: Nevertheless, I Persisted (Myrtle Elizabeth Warren) – The Moaning Myrtles

Fri, Jan 5, 2018

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The last time the Moaning Myrtles put out a full-length album, we were still waiting on three more Harry Potter movies. The last time they toured, we were barely into this decade. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise when I found out that Lauren and Nina decided to play not one, not two, but THREE reunion shows at the Yule Balls this past year. When I found out there was going to be new music, it was really hard to contain myself. Normally, there wouldn’t be a full review on just a single, but given that this is the Moaning Myrtles, complete with reunion mini-tour, this had to be written as soon as the video was released.

Courtesy of Jenn Levine

“Nevertheless, I Persisted (Myrtle Elizabeth Warren)” is a straight up JAM. I’m not lying when I say that the tune’s been stuck in my head since hearing it on Geek Beat during the Boston Yule Ball.

The story behind the song is pretty interesting – it’s based off of Moaning Myrtle’s introduction to Scorpius and Al in Cursed Child, but it has a uniquely Lauren-and-Nina twist to it. According to Lauren, “JK Rowling tweeted a little while ago that Myrtle’s full name is Myrtle Elizabeth Warren. She then realized that the name sounded familiar, but by then it was too late to take back her unintentional nod to the senator. Myrtle ends up introducing herself to Harry and Draco’s children in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child using her full name, and we just couldn’t not write a weird human rights anthem bouncing off of this pretty funny tidbit.”

The lyrics are classic Moaning Myrtles personality wise, but they also remind me a lot of Nina’s solo album “Cliches” that she released back in 2008, which featured many witty political-themed songs. It’s definitely more fast paced than a lot of previous Myrtles releases, which makes it sound a lot like Lauren’s more recent solo stuff. All in all, it’s a fantastic combination of composition and lyrics that shows how much both Lauren and Nina have matured as musicians over the ten years since their last release – and how they’ve stayed true to the original identity of their band.

“Nevertheless, I Persisted” is a rallying cry for all wizard rock fans to not only jump back into the scene again, but to stand up and make a difference and fight for what they believe in. Lines like “So call your reps and join the fight” and “When people tried to silence me/I stood my ground and I resisted” not only allude to the current political climate, they bring back memories of popular wrock songs past that were anti-George W. Bush allegories.

Although there’s been no word from either Lauren or Nina (yet) about formally recording this song and making it available for purchase in the future, Lauren put up the live (and full band!) version with professional audio from Geek Beat on her YouTube channel. If you turn on the closed captions, the lyrics will pop up and you can sing along!

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Review: americanquidditch demos

Thu, Jan 4, 2018

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This Name Your Price wizard rock EP comes to us from Cincinnati, Ohio’s This Is My Nightmare (seriously, there’s a lot of wizard rock in Ohio). The project appears to be a solo act, with all of the songs (along with their other non-wrock releases) being just a single voice and acoustic guitar. Fans of lo-fi wrock will definitely gravitate towards this release, especially if tongue-in-cheek pop punk is their thing. The EP’s liner notes let us know that the entire release was recorded on a phone, save for the last track that was recorded via built-in mic on an iMac.

Yes, This Is My Nightmare would have fit in perfectly on MySpace during the initial wizard rock explosion.

The EP’s cover evokes the iconic first (and up until recently, only) release from American Football. Listeners waiting for the quiet chiming guitars and earnest vocals of that band won’t get what they want, however, as the EP kicks off with the fast paced “Growing Up Magic”, a tale of an auror who feels like their high point in life was their time at Hogwarts, and wondering if their former classmates might feel the same.

“Muggle Dueling Club” gives us a protagonist who grew up muggle, and would prefer to resolve their differences with fists rather than a wand. The acoustic pop punk continues on “Is This Thing Still On?” which finds our protagonist apologizing slightly profanely to someone from their past about how their relationship deteriorated sine they left Hogwarts.

The next track “Everything’s Coming up Mudbloods” sounds like it could have come from Saves The Day’s first album, clocking in at a whopping 47 seconds and poking fun at all the purebloods who think they’re so cool but can’t ever seem to come out on top of anything.

“OTP ’91, or If We Went To Hogwarts” closes out the album with another short, but sweet, tune about how much two seemingly opposite students at Hogwarts can fall in love. Tempo is sort of a floating construct on this song, but that’s OK – the tune is simple, to the point, and a worthy closing track.

The americanquidditch demos represent a fun, quick listen for wizard rock fans who don’t need layers of instruments and cracked versions of Auto Tune to feel like they’re listening to a “real” band. Listening to this EP definitely reminded me of hearing bands for the first time at a show in someone’s living room, and this reviewer thinks that a split EP between This Is My Nightmare and Hogwarts, A History would sound pretty freakin’ good.

If anything, the americanquidditch demos remind us that not all wizard rock needs to come from a “wizard rock” band. The love of Harry Potter, and the emotions it makes so many feel, come across in many different styles and types of fan-created music. Do yourself a favor and download (or purchase for just a few dollars if you wish) the americanquidditch demos EP and kick back for a few minutes of fun.

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From the Editors: Thank You!

Wed, Jan 3, 2018

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Hi, readers! This is just a short little update to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who donated to our GoFundMe campaign for hosting the ‘Pedia!

We raised our $125 goal in a little under 24 hours, and were able to move the site over to our new host over the next few days. The site has been up and running on the new server since yesterday.

We were absolutely floored by the quick and generous response. We not only raised enough money to host the site for the next three years (!!!) but the remainder of the money raised will be enough to continue to renew the domain name for even longer than that.

Thank you, once again, for showing that this community is important. We’re glad to be a part of your wizard rock experience.

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State of the Pedia Part II (in 3D) – Hosting the Pedia

Sat, Dec 23, 2017

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Back over the summer, our senior writer Laura shared a quick editorial on the state of the Wizrocklopedia, our history with the site, and what things looked like moving forward due to staffing levels and schedules.

Today we needed to come to you with another update on the Wizrocklopedia’s status, and we hope that you may have some input for us.

As you may know, since 2013 Richard Grooms (aka Undesireable #1, go download his wizard rap now if you don’t own it!) has very graciously hosted this site on his server completely free of charge. He stepped up huge for the site during a time when the ‘pedia was offline for a while due to a combination of technical and billing issues. For his efforts and generosity, we will always extend our sincere gratitude.

However, the time has come for Richard to shut down his server, which means the ‘pedia needs to find a new home. His server is set to go offline at the end of this month, which leaves us a very short window to decide what to do with the Wizrocklopedia, and make the moves we need to make.

After some conversation between the staff last night, here are the options we wanted to share with all of you, our readers new and old.

Move the site to a free webhosting platform

This option would ensure that billing issues didn’t impact the hosting of the ‘pedia, and it could still exist as a historical resource while being updated with info on new releases, shows, tours, etc. The downside to this option is that the sheer size of the ‘pedia may cause some of the older info to be lost, along with some of the custom features and designs built into the site. There are almost 200 pages not linked above that can be found on the site via searches, many of which detail the early days, shows, tours, and releases of wizard rock.

We can still post new articles on releases & bands, and of course our Twitter & Facebook feeds will remain intact if this is the route we need to take.

Move the site to another paid webhosting platform

This option would allow us to keep the ‘pedia completely intact, without losing any of the older pages, links, files, etc. We’d also be able to keep the appearance and features exactly the same as they exist today. The downside to this option is cost – we’d need to buy a package to host the site for 2-3 years which runs around $100-$120 or so based on the web host. This site has always been run by volunteers, which means we’d need to take up a collection, or set up a crowdsourced campaign to quickly raise the funds to keep the site afloat for a 3 year period. Then, once that period was up, we’d again need to figure out funding.

So where do things stand now?

After discussing the options last night, we’d like to see if our readers would be open to helping fund web hosting for the ‘pedia for the next 3 years or so. This would ensure that everything stays the same as far as content and site availability for everyone. We fully recognize and acknowledge that the site isn’t updated as much as it could (and should) be due to current staffing levels, however we feel very strongly that it should stay online thanks to how much info it holds for wizard rock fans both new and old, and we want it online to help promote current music as much as we can.

We hope to have some info for you shortly on fundraising, and in a worst case scenario, if we aren’t able to raise what we need, we can still move the site to a free hosting platform to keep it online for those who still visit and use our resources. We can’t guarantee how much of the site will remain online, but we will do our absolute best.

Thank you very much for reading, and if you have any thoughts, ideas, or comments, feel free to leave them below or hit us up on Twitter!

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Review: What Is Your Bag (to the tune of “Here Comes Your Man”)

Thu, Dec 21, 2017

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Ludo Bagman and the Trash released their first album this past July, under an inventive new genre: BAG ROCK. Don’t bag it till you try it, folks.

The album itself is a mixed bag of styles and instrumentations. It opens with “Song From Ludo’s Mom,” which is my tied-for-first-place favorite cover of a Katy Perry song (the other contender is Errandofmercy’s Dark Arts from the 2016 Wizard Rock Sampler). This song is backed by ukulele, and it emphasizes the individualities between all the different kinds of bags you can identify with, except plastic bags, because it’s actually not okay to feel like a plastic bag.

Next we go into “My Quidditch Days,” in which an acoustic guitar emerges from Ludo’s bag of tricks. In this song, Ludo unpacks the baggage of his infamous Quidditch injury that sent him into the Ministry.

“It’s All Fun and Games” is up next, which features a more rock-style electric guitar. Cat’s out of the bag, folks: it truly is all fun and games (in this case, the Triwizard Tournament) until someone dies.

“The Night They Burned It Down” takes a melancholy turn, where we see Ludo half in the bag and mourning the events at end of the Quidditch World Cup. What was once a way to relive his former glory, a lucrative gamble, a celebration, was turned into a nightmare when the Death Eaters attacked.

The album closes with “Bag PSA,” which is actually the first song that was released in April 2017 as sort of a teaser for the album. It also lives on Bandcamp as “The Bag Song” and brings us back home with the ukulele, but this time we’ve got some drums and a bass line. We’re at the bottom of the bag now, but Ludo reminds us that it’s okay to feel the need to cover our face or hide our emotions, that’s what bags are for! Just make sure it’s not plastic (‘cause you’ll probably die).

Also available from Ludo Bagman and the Trash:
Just Say No (October 2017) My favorite lyric? “You have just what it takes, to show them that they don’t make, the wizarding world great with their hate”.
A Very Merry Bagmas (December 2017; just released YESTERDAY!!!)

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New Music Review: Calling Back Kelly “The One With The Little Wizard Boy”

Tue, Dec 19, 2017

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Editor’s Note: Content on the ‘pedia has been a bit light this year due to staffer schedules and responsibilities, however that certainly doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been any news or releases on the wizard rock front! In fact, this year has seen a number of album and EP releases from bands new and old, as well as releases from bands that wouldn’t be considered “wizard rock”, although their albums certainly are.

We wanted to end the year on a high note with reviews of some of the new music that was released in 2017. This is not intended to be a comprehensive write-up of every single track from 2017; rather, it’s a way to give credit to the artists who are continuing to release fantastic wizard rock, while also hopefully introducing our readers to some new bands they may not have been aware of. 

As 2017 comes to a close and ushers in a new year, it’s important that we reflect on what constitutes “wizard rock” in this day and age. While there are still a good number of bands that focus exclusively on writing material based on the Harry Potter books, other non-wrock bands have released music that definitely falls under the “wizard rock” umbrella.

In other words, one doesn’t need to be a wizard rock band in order to release wizard rock music.

Just last month, the Cleveland, Ohio based Calling Back Kelly dropped their full length “The One With The Little Wizard Boy” on Bandcamp and we wanted to do this excellently-produced wizard rock album some justice.

As a quick overview, this reviewer wants to note this right out of the gate – the whole album is full of sick guitar riffage and extremely thoughtful lyrics. “The One With The Little Wizard Boy” is definitely on the heavier side of wizard rock, it’s not quite metal but falls on the hard modern rock side of music for sure. If you like pounding drums, thick bass, and excellent guitar playing, this is the wrock album for you. We also wanted to point out that this release is up on Bandcamp as Name Your Price, so you can get it for free, or offer a few bucks for the hard work that went into creating such a solid, well-sounding album. If you’re looking for some new releases to crank, you have no excuse to NOT have this one in your wizard rock collection.

The album kicks off with the track “Privet Drive” which starts with guitar harmonics and a nice grungy thick bass tone. Lyrically, the song is from Hagrid’s POV about having to stick Harry with those dreadful Dursleys as the book series opens. The music really kicks in for the chorus with nice drums and driving guitar, before coming back down to quieter guitar harmonics to close things out.

“Return to Sender” is an uptempo tune that reminds this reviewer of later AFI (in fact, much of the album does). Lyrically the song initially brings Aberforth to mind, complaining about how he felt Albus abandoned his family. It may not be his thoughts exactly (more on song meanings later), but once that theme got stuck in my head I couldn’t get it out. “Obviously Always” follows, featuring fantastic drums and layered vocals. The lyrics bring us Snape’s POV about his regrets, and the fact that he knows that he now has the life he deserves for his actions. Once again, the guitar riffing is on point, and musically, the song is relentless.

The fourth track “Hair of the Dog” is from Sirius’s POV about how he’s been driving himself for years purely on the thoughts of paying Pettigrew back, and doing his best to protect Harry. That’s all that’s been keeping him alive. That song is followed by “Minutes and Moments”, which starts with slightly out of tune guitar to build tension before it really kicks into gear. This angst-ridden song is from Harry’s POV about his realization that Dumbledore protected him in order for him to die. Knowing that his death is required to help defeat Voldemort weighs on him, along with the knowledge that others have died to help him when in the end, he still needs to die anyways. Some nice synth keyboard pads really help keep the tension throughout the song.

Neville gets some attention with the next track “Bloodline (Baby’s First Heavy)”; and man, he just draaaaaaaaaaaaags Voldemort. The heavy riffs relay the pain Neville has over his parents’ state thanks to Voldemort’s orders. This song gives a real Helmet vibe while listening to it’s heavy staccato riffing.

“Catching Smoke” is another banger, keeping up with the musical theme of the album. To be honest, there’s a lot of uptempo angsty and pissed off songs with little respite to your ears. Now, I guarantee you that’s not a problem for a lot of listeners, however I found myself wanting some quieter or down-tempo sections or songs to help make the crushing songs hit that much harder.

The lyrics in “Kill” seems like Snape and Harry are alternating verses about Snape’s death in the Shrieking Shack, and how much they hated each other, but needed each other to survive. Snape’s protection helped keep Harry alive, and that mission was what drove Snape. Unsurprisingly, the next song’s title “Left Ear” gives the subject matter away – it’s about George dealing with Fred’s loss. He knows his life will never be the same, and he will be reminded of the worst loss of his life every time he looks in the mirror. In fact, the bridge mentions the Mirror of Erised and it’s one of the more heartbreaking lyrics you’ll hear in such an uptempo song.

Finally, the album ends with the track “Swanson’s II”, which is really only a quick snippet of Ron Swanson talking about the little wizard boy, which was the inspiration for the album title.

All in all, “The One With The Little Wizard Boy” kicks a LOT of butt, and if you like your wizard rock exactly that (ROCK!!!) then this is the album for you. Likewise if you like songs that don’t hit you upside the head with the meaning behind the lyrics; the songs all easily stand on their own with themes of loss, anger, and pain. If you knew someone who was resistant to wizard rock but likes heavy music, this album would make a great introduction for them.

You can follow the band on Facebook, and if you do so, let them know what you thought about their recent release. It’s great to see a muggle band pick up the wizard rock baton and run with it, and we can all hope that this won’t be their last release in the wizard rock category.

Do yourself a favor – head over to Calling Back Kelly’s Bandcamp, download the album, and CRANK IT. You won’t be disappointed.

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State of the Pedia

Sat, Jul 8, 2017

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Hi, readers. We’ll keep this short and to the point.

Each time we’ve resurrected the ‘Pedia, it’s been with the absolute best intentions. This site means a lot to us, and we’ve been trying to keep it alive and thriving for maybe longer than we should have. Fact is, we just can’t keep up as it stands now, and we can’t keep rebooting and then letting it fall to the wayside because of our real life obligations. The ‘Pedia means too much to us to let it keep slipping when we can’t bring you as much content as we’d like.

As it stands right now, the Archive is still there. The site is still up and running, and we will probably continue to publish sporadic content, which we hope you’ll continue to read and engage with.

If you’d like to contribute anything to the site, feel free to contact us! A show review? Cool! A review of some new-to-you album you got from the archive? Awesome! A review of a new band you heard about? Great! Let us know.

We love the ‘Pedia too much to let it die completely. We’ll be here, in whatever form that takes at the time, as long as someone is writing, recording, performing, posting videos of, or just plain discussing Wizard Rock. You can’t really get rid of us, we’ve still got some more horcruxes left.

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Review: Yes All Witches Tour 2017

Sat, Jul 8, 2017

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Editor’s note: Hey! It’s been a minute. We’re excited to bring you this Yes All Witches tour review from our contributor, Kelly. Make sure to check out her vlog at the end!

It’s been roughly eight years since the last time I’d had a chance to go to a wizard rock concert, so the minute I found out that the Yes All Witches Tour was coming to Wisconsin on June 24, my friend and I started planning our roughly four-hour roadtrip to get to the Village Green in Ripon. Alyssa and I were both pretty into Tonks and the Aurors before we went to the show, and knew a few Tianna and the Cliffhangers songs, but had never heard anything from LosingLara.

When we got to Ripon, we were really excited to see how nice the venue the library had provided for the concert was: in the middle of town, outdoors, and gave off a summer concert vibe. We were also really excited about the Bertie Botts beans and fizzing candy that the library had on hand, in addition to a book raffle. It was definitely an A+ venue.

The show started out with Steph of Tonks and the Aurors doing a two-song set, which got the crowd excited for more music. As soon as Tianna took the stage, we started wondering what songs she was going to play, and her set did not disappoint. Unfortunately, halfway through Tianna’s set, the wind really started picking up and everyone started to get cold – at the end of the show it was about 55 degrees and we were wrapped in blankets in addition to our sweatshirts and long pants. Tianna toughed it out though, and played a great variety of songs off her 2015 album, “Picking Up Where You Left Off”.

When Steph came on to play “Aurors for the Win” and “Honorary Marauder”, the wind had gotten so bad that a lot of the audience had left, which was unfortunate, because the show just got better after that, but weather is gonna do what weather’s gonna do… What we did notice, however, was that Steph was completely unshaken and even more energetic the colder it got.

Lara’s set was a pleasant surprise, and I’m glad she came on the tour this year. Her song “I Said No” fit right in with the feminist theme of Yes All Witches, and all of her music had a combination of great songwriting and fresh lyrics that I hadn’t seen in wizard rock for a while. She is definitely one of those musicians that I hope sticks around within the community, because I believe that she has a lot more music to make.

At the end of the show, Steph came on for an encore set that closed out the show with “Yes All Witches!”. This was the best part of the show in my opinion, because everyone who was there at that point was so excited to be there and it really made for a strong closer.

To sum it up: the venue would’ve been one of the best wrock venues I’ve seen – had it not been 55 degrees. All three artists had sets that were diverse, yet tied together by feminist and queer lyrics that brought a clear message of what the show stood for. The merch was really great this time around (especially the Witch Gang t-shirts, the material was the softest ever AND THEY GLOW IN THE DARK!) and each artist had a solid variety of music for sale.

For those who missed the tour this time around, Steph announced she is doing some solo dates later on in the summer, so check out her Facebook page as she will be adding more dates soon!

I also did a vlog documenting our roadtrip, which is attached below:

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