Hot air: The passion and Hot Lixx of air guitar

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By Zach Ritter

Someday, an enterprising cultural archivist is going to compile a history of air-musicianship. I've got to assume that the phenomenon long predates the headbanging era. Maybe it's just because I get a kick out of imagining top-hatted fops sawing away on invisible violins, but the instinct to mime an instrument just seems so natural that I have to assume people have been doing it for centuries. I mean, nobody teaches you air guitar. When you hear a sufficiently righteous riff, the hands just take over.

Which is why, at first, the idea of a national Air Guitar Championship seems so counterintuitive. Air guitar's not supposed to be something you practice. You do it when you're drunk at a concert, between shouts of "Freebird." You do it in front of your bedroom mirror, with the door securely locked.

But at the same time, there's a certain brilliance to the idea of formalized, stadium-centric air guitar performances. Air guitar is rock and roll stripped down to its pure, unpretentious essence -- it's the ultimate triumph of style over substance, swagger over scales. So bear that in mind when you go to the Sat/5 SF round of the US Air Guitar Championships at the Fillmore. The airy axmen and axwomen who'll be competing are, in a very real sense, the true descendents of Page and Hendrix. With apologies to Don Mclean, these people believe in rock and roll, and that music can save your mortal soul. Prepare accordingly.

Hot Lixx Hulahan, the 2008 Air Guitar World Champion and current top contender in the nationals:

 

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