This is a followup to Lesley’s preview article of the Air Guitar Championships which you can read here:) I must say, I am rather excited about this one because I competed in the competition, and I did very well in it, despite it being my second go at it.
Air Guitar Zygote
I first saw air guitar when in 2006 travelling through Europe. It mesmerized me. Seriously. I do play the drums, but I always grew up playing air guitar (and air drums) as a kid in my room to the iconic riffs of Eddie Van Halen, Zack Wylde, Nuno Bettencourt, Joe Satriani…you know…the classics, but I never knew it could flow into adulthood. For all practical purposes, being a part of something so amazing seemed so far off in la la land because of my ostensible professional career I enjoyed…I remember thinking “wow, it would be amazing to be one of those people…I used to air drum, air guitar…air everything, as a kid!” I quickly moved on to other things and it fell back into the recesses of my memory.
Air Guitar Infant
Fast forward 10 years and I saw a sign for the Portland Air Guitar Championships in 2016. I laughed and told an Opera buddy about how awesome it is, and we both were like “dude, let’s go and have a good time watching”. He had to twist my arm to go see people air guitar to 80’s hair bands…eh hem…well, by accident, when I went to purchase my ticket, an option existed to buy a competing ticket. I thought “this must be some sort of mistake”…nope, it wasn’t. 38 seconds later, I had my entry into the competition under the name “Hair-a-lingus” and I selected the song “17” by the amazing band “Winger”. I had absolutely NO idea what to expect. I didn’t practice for it…all I did was pound several free PBR’s, throw on some spandex, some ski goggles, and fake tattoos and went out and gyrated, hip thrusted, air-tongued, and other various offensive gesticulations. I got a ton of laughs, and the veterans all said I was funny, that I did a good job, and that I should keep it up. It was there that my curiosity turned to fascination. At that show, I met iconic legends like Cold Steel Renegade, The Marquis, Eddie Van Glam, and Kara Picante, among others:) Over the next year, I watched their videos over and over looking at how each movement and motion meant something in the routine. Yes, Air Guitar is a “thing” – yes, we all laugh at it…yes we all think it’s crazy, but as Neil Peart wrote in the song “Limelight”, “those who wish to be…must put aside the alienation…get on with the fascination…the real relation…the underlying theme”…basically, Air Guitar is a lot of work and we remain an oddity in the world, even in Portland. Outside of my alter ego of air guitar, I’m in about as a professional and straight laced industry as one can get. I will leave it at that. The reality is, air guitar allows one to mesh creativity, stage presence, technicality, wildness, in my case – uncouth behavior, esoteric sartorial tastes (in my case, an awesome codpiece and women’s yoga pants), fun, and of course, airness.
Now that you have a bit of background, let’s get to the good part! The first round consisted of everyone creating a routine themselves based on their own song. Moreover, the rules limit each person to one minute of air time. In other words, you really have to fit in airness, technicality, and stage presence (the three things you’re judged on) in a small time. Just like a toddler, I mimicked others to some extent and created my routine in a way that I feel encapsulated my own persona, but also picked a few things that I admired in others. Some of my favorite things that I made into my own were Cold Steel Renegade‘s robotic movements across the stage and the badass stare into the crowd of Eddie Van Glam. I wanted to try Marquis’s air splits, and I even asked him permission to do so, to which he obliged, but I figured I would break my codpiece. Maybe next year.
What truly made the routine mine came in the form of destroying any vestige of couth left in the room. I chose the song “Death to all but Metal” by Steel Panther. I purposely chose the song because of the largely offensive lyrics and because, a la Spinal Tap, it would take the act well past 11 to about a 17. Kara Picante (also knows as Kara Pairiodonte) even announced me to the crowd as basically a dirty son of a bitch. That label is entirely accurate, perhaps even too mild. You’ll have to ask someone who was there for details, but we’ll just say, I opened a lot of eyes:) That gem locked me a spot in the knockout round, which was my goal for this year. I actually placed second overall in the first round which astounded me since that meant I somehow usurped Cold Steel Renegade and Eddie Van Glam. Regardless, in the knockout round, just like the NFL playoffs, experience always helps and those guys simply brought it and put me in my place. They took it to another level, and I did respectable, but they ended up qualifying for nationals (as they should). Oh well! Next year. I will say, the stuff that Thirsty Motion, Cold Steel Renegade, Eddie Van Glam, and Air Marquis pulled out of the air was nothing short of amazing. While I hung on for dear life and for the experience itself, those guys walked in and simply showed the crowd what they wanted, and perhaps even more (NSFW pics available on the US Air Guitar site).
From here, well, I think I’ve found something I really like, and I plan to keep practicing, keep being offensive, and bring the air next year. As I noted in my interview with the news, this is a chance to combine creativity, maelstrom, and a host of other things and simply have a lot of fun. You can even see my interview with KATU (Channel 2 news) here.
Air guitar – it’s a thing:)