Because I am always up for a good spectacle, I attended the Chicago regional for the U.S. Air Guitar Championships this weekend. Yes, it's official. They have a national championship for everything. There's even a documentary about this, which I plan to watch. Here's how it works:
1. The instrument must be invisible, i.e. air.
2. Personal air roadies are allowed.
3. Back-up bands - air or real - are not allowed
4. Props in place of the air guitar are forbidden.
The air guitar "Grand Finals" consists of two rounds.
Round 1 - Contestant-chosen song that plays for 1 minute
Round 2 - New song that the contestant only hears immediately prior to Round 2 and is also played for one minute.
Points are awarded figure skating style, and three criteria are used: technical merit, stage presence, and of course airness.
Now that you know the rules, here's how it went down last night. With names such as Hot Lixx Hulahan, Air Leigh Legal, Rockness Monster, I expected big things out of air guitar. As it turns out, the Chicago contestants just weren't that good. Hot Lixx (reigning world champion) was in attendance and served as a judge. He also put on a ripping guest performance in between Round 1 and Round 2. In the end, it came down to The Tetrad and Romeo Dance Cheetah, with Romeo ultimately carrying the day. However, I would be amiss if I didn't mention the Tetrad, who came on stage as a tetris block, which he exploded out of when he started his song. That was phenomenal. Hot Lixx said, "You're everything I love and hope for in air guitar." Anyways, here is your winner, who I ran into outside the venue.
To give you an idea of how ridiculous this is, a girl from Brooklyn entered the air guitar hall of fame by virtue of dislodging (not just dislocating) her toe while trying to jump over a chair, then finished the performance, ultimately having her toe amputated. This is just one example, but apparently there are lots of air guitar injuries.
The event was sponsored by boone's farm. Yes, boone's farm. In fact, one judge (Nordic Thunder -last year's Chicago champion who was out this year do to an air guitar-related back injury) did two "down in ones" with bottles of boone's farm. It was disgusting. After the second one, the host said, "Oh my God. You're going to get diabetes." He's probably right. I was also surprised with how hostile the crowd was towards bad performances. There was boooing, throwing of things. Boone's farm was all over the stage. All in all, it was a ridiculous scene. The crazy part is that I actually found myself critiquing the performances, judging "technical merit" and booing the judges when I thought they gave an inappropriate score. At the end, when it came down to Tetrid and Romeo, I was even starting a chant of "air off."
The most bizarre moment of the night was when all the contestants went on stage at the end and did air guitar to Freebird (The Tetrad is wearing the yellow shirt on the left). This picture doesn't even do justice to the hilarity of when I took a step back and noticed that there were 25 people on a stage contorting their bodies and faces in all different directions. I realized then that most of the people on stage were probably virgins and that my nerdiness was nearly on par with theirs for having paid money to watch them do this.
Here are the awards for the night:
Best Move: The Tetrid's entrance
Best Performance: Hot Lixx guest spot
Drunkest: The judge who chugged two bottles of boones farm in front of everyone
Best Name: Sexton Hardcastle
Best Song Choice: The guy who chose the other song by Motorhead that isn't Ace of Spades
Word of the Day: Airdeology
Sentence: Tell me a little bit more about your airdeology.