When the temperature in NY is reaching the 90s, and the humidity is even worse, there's no better way to take refuge than to pile into the back hall of a Brooklyn record shop and witness some of the best imaginary musicians the world has ever seen. Rough Trade was the host on Saturday to the US Air Guitar Championships. Competitors from all over the country made their way to Brooklyn for their chance at fame and notAIRiety. Armed only with a custom 60-second track, a perfectly practiced routine and enough confidence to run around on stage and pretend to play guitar in front of hundreds of inebriated fans.
Competitive Air Guitar is judged on three forms of criteria and scored from 4.0-6.0. The three categories are Technical Ability: Does it actually look like you know how to play the guitar based on your hand placements. Stage Presence: Do you have a well-developed personality on stage and are you keeping it entertaining? And the somewhat undefinable criteria, Airness: You know it when you see it. At the National Finals this year there were 18 competitors, and as Aristotle, the 3 time US champ and 2-time reigning World Champ were not competing, and Mom Jeans (last years champ) was out because she was having another baby, it left the door open for a new champion.
After the customary intro of the judges and opening act, the first competitor performed. Dad Bod Jovi came on stage wearing a baby carrier on his chest filled with PBR, baby wipes and baby powder and proceeded to crush a performance to a cover of Kendrick Lamar's "Damn". Despite the valiant effort, going first never bodes well for the judge's scores and sure enough, Dad Bod was hit with low to mid 5s for a total score of 16.1
Mid 5s continued to spew from the judges for the next competitor mAIRty Mcfly who earned a 16.2 but Sacramento champion KitKat managed to kick it up a notch with her use of crowdsourced travel to the stage and the nights first (of many) confetti cannons earning her a respectable 17.1. Agnes Young with her seemingly geriatric persona and a whole lot of wig powder earned admiration from the judges and a 17.0 score, while The Crusher although perfectly technical with his performance fell flat on big gestures and only scored 16.7. Sweetness using the night's second confetti cannon and his natural sexuality gets low balled by the judges and earns a 16.5.
Coming out of retirement for his 10 -year- anniversary, East Coast favorite Windhammer brings both the intensity and the chaps he is known for and lands himself in the second round with a score of 17.5. Shorty McShred dressed up as Darth Vader tries using the force on the judges but only earns a 17.0. Up next was Virgin Airy who was actually 32 weeks pregnant, and going against the advice of her doctors (probably) thrashed around on stage and just missed out on the second round with a score of 17.3. Portland-based The Marquis rocked out with long curls and the nights only split jump and landed solidly in the second round with a 17.5.
Local boy Math Romancer had the crowd chanting his name and had enough confidence (and lack of mass) to jump into the crowd and continue to play while they threw him back on stage. Although he escaped bodily harm, the judges were not impressed and only gave him a 17.0. Air Banger danced around more than playing guitar and earns 16.7.
The tallest competitor of the night Jolly Green Shredding Machine threw down a solid mashup of No Sleep Till Brooklyn and was rewarded by the judges with the nights first 6.0, and made it to round 2 with a score of 17.7. Both San Francisco based Human Airer and Chicago based Old Glory found themselves with 6.0s from one of the judges, but it was Old Glory's patriotic shorts and flag based entourage that earned him a spot in Round 2 with a score of 17.7.
Georgia Lunch with her no-frills, balls to the wall shredding impressed the judges and found herself solidly in R2 with a score of 17.7. Brozone sprayed himself down with Axe Body Spray and although he smelled great, his scores were not 16.5. And the final competitor of the night Dick Diesel rocked out to George Michael and Limp Bizkit but although he had "Faith" he lacked the scores to move on 16.5.
While the judges added up the scores from R1, the audience was treated to a double halftime performance. First up was reigning world champ Aristotle who threw down his iconic blend of 90s-00s nostalgia complete with a Rocko’s Modern Life hat. The second was a rare showing of “Category Six” who jammed to a tune of 3 songs and played virtually all of the air instruments you could think of including keyboards, drums, and even saxophone.
Once the scores were announced there were two ties. Tied for fourth place was The Marquis and Windhammer, and tied for first place was Old Glory, Georgia Lunch and Jolly Green Shredding Machine. During a somewhat convoluted Round 2 where competitors played either the first compulsory song of “Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen, or they chose a song from a hat it was anyone game. After a perfectly lucky pick of “Whole Lotta Rosie” however, New York-based Georgia Lunch took the competition and became the new US Air Guitar Champ, and will be representing America in the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland later this month.