The US Air Guitar Championships held their SF Regionals at the Independent Saturday night. As such, a sold-out crowd of air-thusiests and the competitors' family members gathered to see who would be crowned the SF champ and be given the opportunity to participate at Nationals in Denver.
As it was the final regional stop and only a matter of time before a 2012 Air Guitar World Champion would be crowned at the end-all event in scenic Oulu, Finland, “master of airemonies” Bjorn Turoque opened the night with a performance of “The Finland Countdown” (including the timely addition of a bit of “Zou Bisou Bisou”), accompanied by 2008’s World Champion, Hot Lixx Hulahan.
Hulahan would also judge the night’s competition – along with comedian Caitlin Gill and the Mr.T Experience’s “Dr. Frank” Portman – on the basis of technical merit, stage presence, and, of course, airness.
And the competition – full of requisite punny names, terribly great outfits, and ridiculous faces – was fierce, particularly the local rivalry between former SF regional champs Alex “Awesome” Koll and Matthew “Cold Steel Renegade” Feldstein.
As the event went on, it felt as though the faux-guitarists were going to attempt almost anything to up the take their performance to 11, particularly when Texan (and Jack Black/Norman Reedus love child) Taylor “Brock McRock” Fullbright precariously wobbled on a stage speaker only inches above my head.
Overcoming out-of-town disadvantage, NYC’s Justin “Seth Leibowitz” Hypes won the night, making a strong start with a heavy metal rendition of “Call Me Maybe” before seemingly levitating over the crowd in the final round. It was an impressive night, particularly if you followed Turoque’s advice at the start: “Don’t be sober, otherwise it’s just going to look kind of stupid.”