Austin: the Air At Night Is Big and Bright…

For the first time in over seven years, Austin, Texas again was host to a legit U.S. Air Guitar Championship. With a trip to Brooklyn, NY to compete in  on the line for the night’s winner, the audience and competitors knew the stakes and brought the energy to match it. 

The show was hosted by Matt Dailey (His Airness) at the Highball, a bar created by Tim League, owner of beloved Austin (and now nationwide) movie institution the Alamo Drafthouse. It should be no surprise that Matt made for one incredible and unforgettable evening of hosting. A completely sold out crowd didn’t hurt either.

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Competitors came from far and wide to compete. Last year’s Austin regional winner, and recent USAG air apparent Dad Bod Jovi (Taylor Fullbright) came from Houston to defend his title. Stonehenge came from the far-off land of—Cleveland, and Count Rockula somehow made the trek from the dark forests of Transylvania.

Our trusty emcee of many year’s past Kyle "Uncle Hotdog" Walker was incredible as always. His energy was perfect for a raucous rock-filled event and for introducing the evening’s 12 competitors.

First up was first timer Tiny Dancer (Bryant Bell). He actually walked into the event thinking it was a show for our bitter rival in the world of competitively faking things—Air Sex. Tiny Dancer decided to roll with it and in keeping with his intended theme, played to R. Kelly’s Bump and Grind. He promptly given all 4.0s and one 6.0.

Every competitor absolutely killed it. However, some of the standouts included old school Austin air guitar royalty Star Wolf Nick Ranger (Jason Vines). Playing Suite Pee by System of a Down, he slayed with technicality and pure energy. He went early in the competition, but set the standard for airness.

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All hail the Beast. AleistAIR Crowley (Mark Good) may be a relative newcomer to the air guitar scene, but he has quickly become a staple. Rocking a killer cut of Overkill’s Hello from the Gutter, he may not have quite made it to the second round, but if we do our part in pleasing Satan, I expect we’ll be seeing again him soon. 

A recruit to air guitar thanks to a random run-in with judge His Airness (Matt Dailey) and 2011 World Air Guitar Champion Nordic Thunder (Justin Howard) at SXSW, Skum Vandle (Nick Marino) was immediately sold on this crazy pastime. Three months after that fateful meeting, he was tearing up the stage to Slip it In by Black Flag.

At USAG, we love it when newbies come out of nowhere and absolutely nail it. First timer Count Rockula (Ben Kerchival) clearly was born oozing with airness. By the end of rocking to Zombie Autopilot by Unearthed, it was no question that we’d be seeing him in the second round.

All eyes were on last year’s Austin Regional Champ and brand-new pop of two Dad Bod Jovi. You may also know him as Brock McRock, Slashsquatch, Thrustin Beaver, Anthony Scaramoochscaramooch Will You do the Fandango?, Matthew Macoghnaheyheyhey, etc. Clearly taking paternity leave to the next level, Dad Bod Jovi chose an untraditional edit by airing it to Kendrick Lamar. He completely and thoroughly crushed it, leaving no question that he was the dad to beat.

Last up was Condor who cruised in from Salt Lake City on his mini-bike filling up the Highball with exhaust— and probably a touch of good old carbon monoxide. That’s pretty metal, honestly.His choice of Kick Start My Heart by Mötley Crüe may not have been the most original, but he rocked it well enough to slide into the second round.

After the smoke finally cleared from everyone’s lungs, it was time for the halftime show. Performing were the 2018 Dell Computers Battle of the Band winners, Blue Screen of Death Metal. It was their first live show EVER and they absolutely rocked the house. 

Finally, the top five valiant competitors for the second round were announced: Skum Vandle, Condor, Star Wolf Night Ranger, Count Rocklua and Dad Bod Jovi.

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The track was a great edit to Muse’s, Knights of Cydonia. Everyone absolutely slayed, but Count Rockula truly brought it with a perfectly timed 5-second guitar toss.

However, even his almost perfect second round wasn’t enough to beat Dad Bod Jovi. Even with a slightly weak second round, his incredible first round made his scores too high to beat. 

For the second year running, the air guitarist of many names Dad Bod Jovi will be representing Austin—and this time he’s taking it straight to the U.S. National Championships in Brooklyn, NY. Now, can he take Texas all the way to the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland? 

Special thanks to our sponsors who helped make the event happen: Alamo DrafthouseIndependence Brewing for filling us with amazing beer, and Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds for making us look damn good.

Judges:Matt Bearden, Chuck Loesch, Danny Wrath, Avery Moore, His Airness (Matt Dailey)

Top Five Scores
1. Dad Bod Jovi (34.7)
2. Star Wolf Night Ranger (34.0)
2. Count Rockula (34.0)
3. Condor (33.1)
4. Skum Vandle (32.5)

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Kriston Rucker