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US Air Guitar Championships in Chicago

US Air Guitar Championships in Chicago
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By Jacob Calle:

Like Hot Lixx Hulahan said before, “Being an air guitarist is having your cake and eating it too.” You may laugh and poke fun of it, but over 20 air guitarists were flown into Chicago to compete to see who takes the belt and win the US Championships of air guitaring. Yes, we pretend to play the guitar, but there is one thing that we are not pretending, having fucking fun! The US Air Guitar Association has created a family from California to New York. We meet once a year and we party very hard.

While walking in Chicago a ped-cab bike rider asked, “What’s so fun about pretending to play the guitar? Why not play a real one?” My answer was that never in your life,  you will get the chance  where people will want to see your band at a sold out event at The Metro where Foo Fighters, Elliot Smith, Bob Dylan, and other greats have performed, but they sure as hell wanna see you pretend you are! On July 23, 2011 The Metro had one of the most exciting air guitar events that I have ever seen! It was so damn good. I was staying at Nordic Thunder’s home where ESPN came and shot a good portion of their report. Home of Chicago, Nordic’s schedule was quite busy doing tv interviews and the such with the press.

Thursday night was the Dark Horse competition. It’s an invite only comp for those who deserve a last shot at going to finals. I was the judge. Not as Jacob Calle, but as Air Bear. The US Air Guitar’s mascot. Since Air Bear does not talk (mascot rule #1 Mascots do not talk), I would just write down my score and hold up the sign. It’s a privilege to judge. Not any one can just judge, so I was very excited. Knowing that people traveled all over the United States to compete I had to be unbiased even if it was telling Houston’s own Brock McRock that everything is bigger in Texas, but you aren’t one of them. Luckily his score was high enough to go to Dark Horse finals and also high enough to compete at The Metro. This is where I put my shoe in my mouth, because obviously EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas, even Brock McRock.

Brock just found out that he's going to finals

The US Air Guitar committee

had ourselves damn busy by emailing us other air guitarists’ schedules so that we could rendezvous. While some watched The Houston Astros lose against The Chicago Cubs at Wrigley others went to visit animals at the zoos (me). Bjorn Turoque, the author of To Air Is Human even arranged a large flash mob for the air guitar squad to flash the sub way. It was a sight to see as we all boarded the sub with gawkers and head scratchers. While we were at it we decided to crash some soon-to-be newly wed’s wedding photos. As you see she was not happy.

Walking through the front doors of The Metro knowing that we’d be performing was very chilling. We would be performing on the same stage as Bob Dylan and now it is our turn whether it will be remembered or not. Because I am the mascot for the association I did not watch all of the competitors. I was too busy throwing myself down stairs and taking drunk pics with fans. I was also in the green room a lot resting and drinking plenty of water. I did purposely make it to see Romeo Dance Cheetah’s performance. Romeo went to Finland last year to compete against the world. Like last year’s his performance was breathless. (No pun intended)

The anticipation for Romeo Dance Cheetah was at the edge of everyone’s imaginary seats (it was a standing room). With Chicago being his home town he brought in a lot of fans. His performance was a solid in my opinion a 6.0. It was a chopped fast paced edit of Phil Collin’s “In The Air Tonight”. The crowd absolutely loved it.

The apex of the show did not end there. Tommy Fretless performed with his smashed foot from air practicing. Having to switch his routine, it was not bad at all. Very inspiring actually. I felt as if I was living the end scene of Danielson kicking Johnny in the face with one foot in the movie “Karate Kid”. After his set a cute, but drunk fan jumped on stage and laid a big make out sesh with the cripple. The other great local was Nordic Thunder also known as Justin Howard who delivered a mighty storm. According to an unsaid power company 22,000 customers were without power as the rain and thunder came in and giving Chicago an all time rain record. As Nordic Thunder entered stage the sold out audience sang the intro to AC/DC’s “Thunder Struck”. He performed his set and won over the crowd. We were about to see the US’ new air guitar champion. While Romeo’s performance was fancy and gorgeous, Thunder’s was a chaos of blood and fire. I could only imagine a horrid blood shed war with axes and swords lacerating the limbs of enemies.

While the scores were being finalized I jumped on stage to perform some magic that questioned the crowd. It felt pretty damn amazing performing a mini magic show in that legendary venue. By the end of the night. It was Nordic Thunder who won. His bare knee slide in his second performance won all. Over the loud P.A. I could hear his skin peeling off his body. As if there was a basketball game going on with squeeky sneakers. I cringed as I covered my ears. The front row fans could hear it too. As blood dripped down his legs from his unforgiving bloody knees, his mother who we call “Thunder Mother”  could not be any more happier. She knew that he would be taking the infamous belt home.

As we left the bars celebrating Chicago’s 2nd victory of US Air Guitar Nordic did not complain about his feet one bit. It was well worth the suffering. Early that day news was received that the US winner would be flown to Los Angeles to perform on TBS’s George Lopez Show with musical guest, ICP. Nordic’s fame doesn’t stop there. Last night Jimmy Fallon mentioned Nordic’s win and a video of his performance was on Tosh.O’s site. Now Nordic Thunder will begin practicing to compete the world finals in Oulu, Finland where he will be competing against the two time world champion Gunther Love. Will shedding skin win his the victory? Perhaps some bones too. Good luck Nordic. We’re rooting for you.

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  • Brian

    Nice first-hand account from the writer. Definitely no lack of passion in this group!