As I stand in front of the stage at The Independent, I ponder why I am here to watch people play air guitar. Is it because I love guitar so much that I’m willing to pay to watch people pretend to play one? Or am I a phony guitar fan, because any self respecting guitarist admirer would never be caught dead at one of these?
What it comes down to is, who cares- because Air Guitar events are awesome.
Emceed by ‘Master of Airimonies’ Bjorn Turoque, of the Air Guitar Nation documentary fame, the San Francisco Air Guitar Regional Finals was an evening of chuckles and cringes. He goes over the ‘rules’ and judging criteria, which includes something called ‘airness’, which is defined as ‘you’ll know it when you see it’. Bjorn starts the show by singing and air guitaring to ‘War Pigs’, along with an air drummer and air bassist pulled from the crowd. This made me think that next we may see Air Bands- similar to the Guitar Hero-Rock Band progression in video games.
There are 20 contestants who range from abysmal to pretty good. No one blew me away like in the documentary, but there was some fun stuff. There were a lot of past participants. Only 3 chicks entered, and they all were really disappointing. Most people embraced the outfit and some sort of shtick, but some were plain clothed. Lame.
When compared to Bjorn and ‘half time performer’ and champion from two years ago Hot Lixx Hulahan, these contestants have a long way to go. They just don’t really look like they are playing guitar a lot of the time. This conversation is ridiculous.
So, there were a couple of ’80s style contestants, a disturbing Eastern European, goth chicks, a damn freaky baby, some hippies, a Miami Vice dude, a guy who looked like James Earl Jones in Conan, and Bob Ross, the PBS art guy. There was a stage dive which ruined a lot of beers.
The audience was really ridiculous. There were hecklers. Chicks threw undergarments onstage. People yelled at the judges at the tops if their lungs when they didn’t agree with the scores.
And the judges….Marc Hawthorne from The Onion, Jennifer Merz from SF Weekly, and John Trippe from fecalface.com. The only one worth a damn was Marc Hawthorne, because he legitimately criticized people. The other were all over the place. Trippe slurred through half of the show.
The top 5 scoring air guitarists advanced to Round 2. They all had to perform to the Foo Fighter’s ‘I’ll Stick Around’. Love the song, but not for this…it wasn’t flashy enough. They needed more ZAZZ. In a slightly anticlimactic ending, Awesome took home the prize, and we’ll be seeing him again in a couple months at the Championship.
The night ended with everyone, audience included, onstage to do Freebird, which is really a too long and wildly overrated song. Nonetheless, it was kinda funny, just like air guitar should be.
venue (The Independent): 8/10
value ($16.00/ticket): 8.5/10