Things to do in Denver when you shred

Date:May 25th, 2018
Location:Denver, CO
Venue:3 King’s Tavern
Host:Jesse Isengard (John Humphrey)

Sometimes you just gotta believe that there’s magic in the air. As showtime neared, it was looking to be a light year for competitors in Denver with only six people officially signed up. But with moments to go, that Rocky Mountain magic prevailed, and the show turned out to be a slow-burning stunnAIR. 

As 3 Kings Tavern, the second-year venue for Denver air guitar began to fill, so did walk-on competitors as they streamed to the green room asking how they could be part of the show itself. Soon, there were seven first-time air guitarists signed-up and willing to get their song out of the dreaded TRUCKER HAT OF DOOM (™) wildcard system. 

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Graciously offering to go first, Denver daughter Stabitha Christie (Rachel Meyers-Hawk)kicked off the event with a stiletto straight to the dick. It’s never easy going first, but Stabitha gave it her best Milo Goes to College Try with a Descendents track.

The string of walk-ons followed Stabby, which also helped to orient our judges and audience. They were all fantastic and really got the air circulating—and had a hell of a time doing it! Highlights included a contestant from Salt Lake City, Oxymormon (Holly Downs), who landed her impromptu Joan Jett moveswith a smile and high heels. 

On the other foot was Doug the Booty Hunter (Brandon Harrison), complete with broken ankle bracelet monitor. Doug a longtime air guitar supporter but first time contestant, kicked off his sandals and unveiled a bare-chested tribute to Danzig’s “Mother” that will surely be introduced into evidence at a later court date.

Following our walk-ons, the competition grew to a fever pitch with our sixth contestant and official USAG Air Apparent Six String Sal (Saladin Thomas). After months of practice and days of well-meaning trash talk, all eyes in the room were on Sal as his beskulled visage approached the stage. 

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Throwing down a “BYOB” tribute that was equal parts headbanging and smile-spreading, Sal’s dreads split the air and the judges scores were aligned to 6’s for the first--not final--time. 

Hot on Six String’s heels was fellow veteran Dirtbag von Slimairstein (Myles Green), who debuted a new look, new character, and record-setting scores in his eleventh year on the scene. Rocking the devil lock attitude and his characteristic acrobatic moves, Dirtbag raised his own bar and secured a spot in round two. 

At this point, the suspense in the air inside a sweaty 3 Kings cavern. When still reigning Denver champion Agnes Young (Rachel Sinclair) crept to the stage, fresh off a day pass from Holy Oaks Retiairement Community, Young’s granny fannies made their pink-torsoed presence known. 

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As she clapped off the television, her sequence of possessive aerial move melted faces as well as hearts, and the audience exploded into applause as Agnes collapsed into her rocking chair. She regained consciousness in time to hear multiple sixes from the judges’ mics. 

Faced with the unenviable task of following in granny’s footsteps, our next, and first-time contestant, Mind Voltage (Matt Thomas) brought the smiles and swagger. He gave a loving tribute to public educators with a rendition of “Hot for Teacher.” His fretboard flurry and fancy footwork left the audience speechless and wowed the judges who saw fit to send the newcomer into round two. 

Next up, our final competitor and midwestern USAG stalwart, Pork Sword (Cameron Hawk)brought his trademark sparkle to the stage. Playing an upbeat and insane-in-a-good way jam by the band Crying, the audience and judges were moved to tears of joy by the exuberance of this fan favorite. Pork Sword’s original moves easily snagged a spot in next round.

After a quick halftime show with some audience help and a shout-out to our awesome charity partner, Youth on Record (check out their mission here), round two kicked off. The edit? A stacked Dio-era Sabbath jam, completed with varied responses from the five finalists. 

Every second-round competitor killed the challenging edit, but when the dust finally settled all eyes were on Agnes Young and Six String Sal for that top spot. 

As fate would have it, the two contenders were tied for first place going into the compulsory! After settling the tie backstage, Agnes stayed golden while she shaked it down in Estelle Getty yellow, followed by a featherweight and leaden show from Sal. 

The judges had the unenviable task of assigning scores to this pair of top shelf slayers, and appropriately, saw fit to give them both the equally high scores. Literally. 

That’s right, boys and girls: we had ourselves an air off in Denver. And that final song had to be a showstopper. And for just such an occasion, the only card needed is the Ace of Spades.

Motorhead for the win? Stranger things have happened. And being the perfect gentlemen with a heart of gold, Sal graciously volunteered to go first, payback for the final slot in round two. He flashed his hands, banged his dreads, and made his strongest showing that this town has ever seen. The judges loved it and multiple sixes were given.

This was Agnes’ chance to take it home once again. Channeling her inner Lemmy and some sensual moves that werewaypast her bedtime, the city’s favorite granny put it all out there for her final show of the night. With a halo of talcum powder (or possibly Lemmy’s favorite white stuff) looming overhead, left nothing but thin air in her (or at her) wake. 

When the white powder settled, the winner was a photo finish: 

Agnes had narrowly eeked out her second win in as many years. It was as close as any air guitar contest that this town has ever seen, and a fitting end to a night defined by choking heat, thick clouds of swirling air, and a string of surprises. 

Not for lack of competition, Agnes’ next day pass out of the nursing home will be to New York City, where she’ll defend the Mile High City’s honor once again at the U.S. Air Guitar Championships on August 4that Rough Trade in Brooklyn, NY.

Judges:Alisha Sweeney, Virgil Dickerson, Adam Cayton-Holland, Glory Wholesome (Whitney Young), Chuck Coffey

Organizers:John Humphrey & Cameron Hawk

Top Five Scores:
Agnes Young (35.8)
Six String Sal (35.7)
Pork Sword (17.5)
Dirtbag Von SlimAIRstein (17.2)
Mind Voltage (17.2)

All photos by Ari Lips

Kriston Rucker