2013 Finals - LFM Melts U.S. Down
Photo Credit: Nicole Sevcik
LOS ANGELES, CA (Breaking News) -- With a level of talent heretofore unseen in the history of competitive air guitar, San Deigo’s LIEUTENANT FACEMELTER (Jason Farnan) took the U.S. Finals at the West Hollywood House of Blues this past Friday night. Close on his heels were runners-up MEAN MELIN (Eric Melin) and 2012 U.S. Champion AIRISTOTLE (Matt Burns).
For his victory, Facemelter received the Championship Belt, a custom-made guitar by Aluminati Guitars and a round trip ticket to Oulu, Finland, to compete against two dozen participating countries in the name of world peace. The stars and stripes will also be represented by 2012 World Air Guitar Champion, Nordic Thunder (Justin Howard), who gets an automatic bye to defend his World Title.
Friday night’s competition was a who’s-who of air guitar elite: Representing the Northeast were (I think) ROCKUPINE (Jeffrey Stiles), WINDHAMMER (Rob Weychert), DANNY TANNER TANTRUM (Jaime Farnan), Mean Melin and Airistotle. From the Mid-Atlantic Semifinals were THE MARQUIS (Rob Messel), VAN DAMMAGE (Luke Sevcik), TOMMY FRETLESS (Adam Lee), and DOUG THE THUNDER STROOK (Doug Stroock). Hailing from the Midwest were DRY ICE (Aarón Alonso), ROCKY RHOADES (Gina Czarkowski) and FLYING FINN (Andrew Finn). And from the Western Semifinals came SETH LEIBOWITZ (Justin Hypes), COLD STEEL RENEGADE (Matt Feldstein) and FINGER LICKIN’ GOOD (Matthew Hutchinson).
Filling the 1-5 spots at last Friday’s big event were dark horse winners PETER STIFF DICKENS (Colby McMystery), MATH ROMANCER (Paul Martino), SMART OLD BROAD (Maureen O’Neil), YÜR MÜTHER (Janice Gomez) and MIDNIGHT MANIAXE.
We also riled up the kindest group of A-List Hollywood celebs to officiate the event, with Conchords / Daily Show legend Kristen Schaal, comic Kurt Braunohler (his new CD is fucking hysterical), and our very own (roommate) HOT LIXX HULAHAN (Craig Billmeier).
And, in an air guitar first, playing the compulsory track live was Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse star Brandon Small.
Holy fucking shit is right.
Where to start? Mr. Van Dammage, making his first appearance on the National Stage as a Semifinal representative, fell just one tenth of a point short of landing a spot in the second round. Over a Flamenco-Death track – combining a classical spanish guitar with Slayer – VD had one of the most innovative and tight performances to not advance to the second round. As his song transitioned from fingerpicking to thrash, a rose was gently lobbed onto stage as if thrown by the delicate hand of Satan himself. After catching it, VD bit into its bud which released a healthy liter of blood onto his face and fans. He finished his routine with a stage dive in the birthing position.
As the top scores from round one were announced, Van Dammage and his Midwest illegal countryman Dry Ice learned they missed advancing by one tenth of a point, and the two performers high fived in celebration. I caught up with VD after the show, who told me “Those other (second round performers) were so good, it was amazing just knowing we came so close.”
Knowing he would have to do something altogether new in order to top last year’s performance, 2012 U.S. Champion Airistotle went completely out of his cavity-sweet Sum41/In Too Deep comfort zone and instead used a much heavier Sum41/Bitter End track in his pursuit of the Championship Belt. This departure earned him a second round nod, and perhaps would have paid off even more in any other city. However, exercising musical contextualism (LA is still a metal town) most of Friday’s song selections tilted toward heavy. When Airistotle, the second-to-last performer in round one, laid down yet another heavy track, the room was already up to its ears in those heavy metal cymbal chokes. The 2012 U.S. Champ finished 3rd overall after shredding admirably to Smalls’ live metal thrash track.
Filling the pop void was San Francisco’s multi-year champion Seth Leibowitz, who scored an average 5.86 in round one, earning him a spot in the compulsory round. His music selection was a catchy Hall and Oates “Dream Come True,” full of “woo-woo, doo-doo” which he paired perfectly with his Larchmont charm and little red knapsack. I believe he was also sporting a little purple turd on his shirt.
Mean Melin, who was runner-up for this year’s Best Performance Award (official blog pending hangover approval), once again shredded to a track of his own creation. He actually wrote the song, played the instruments, and cut the track. He entered the second round in first place, and rightfully so, as his round one was arguably the best performance of the evening. But he seemed a little out of his element with Brandon Small’s compulsory track and as such had to hold a little bit back in his second round offering.
It was Lt. Facemelter, an avid gamer who is beyond familiar with the Guitar Hero track that made Metalocalypse’s Smalls famous, who hit every lick. As in, Every. Fucking. Lick. Highlighting his performance was some money well spent at Kinkos, as LFM entered the stage wearing a jumbo-sized mask of himself (we always urge performers to avoid masks because it hides their faces – Facemelter one-upped us Luigi style). He proceeded to impress not only the judges but also Smalls, who was grinning ear to ear for the entire 60 seconds.
Photo Credit: Nicole Sevcik
Danny Tanner Tantrum, Facemelter’s brother, also showed he has what it takes to be a national champion.
–But then again, pretty much every single person at Friday’s performance displayed a Finnish level of championship excellence. If you don’t believe me, watch the U.S. represent hard on the live stream here today starting at 7 p.m. Finland / 12 noon Eastern / 9:00 am Pacific. There will likely be an opening performance so stay tuned for exact set times.