Sacramento: Kit Kat Kills It in the Capitol City
Venue: “Upstairs @ The B” at the Sofia B St. Theatre
City: Sacramento, California
Date: June 9th, 2018
Host: Ben Thomas (Rockus Airelius)
Organizer: Kyle Payton (Sweetness)
Judges: Dave Perini (Director of “Airness”), Jody Collins (Artist and Stylist), Zac Brown (Guitarist of the band Tycho), Patrick Harbison (Sacramento Socialite)
To a sold-out crowd at the Sofia B St. Theatre in Sacramento, the spirit of US Air Guitar was palpable on Saturday, June 9th as a 6-week run of the air guitar-themed play Airness was capped with an incredible regional competition.
Hosted by the venerable Rockus Airelius (Ben Thomas) and featuring 16 competitors that spanned the gamut between rookie and vet, the show climaxed with an intense and emotional air off, one of those great reminders as to why so many feel such an attachment to competitive air guitar. Also a testament to that was Rockus’ opening number with co-organizer Sweetness (the incredible USAG photographer Kyle Payton), which paid homage to classic air guitar performances of the past.
One of the main things that keeps air guitar alive and breathing every year is the onslaught of rookies that come out of the woodwork for these competitions, many of them realizing for the first time that people actually do this sort of thing outside of their bedrooms. (Mind Voltage of Salt Lake City, who drove all the way to Denver last month to compete in his first competition, comes to…mind.)
The five rookies who stepped up in Sacramento - Androgynous Sleazebucket, Aphrodisia Savic, Foxy Frets, Sonnie, and Airmerican Icon - were a huge part of what made this show so memorable. The fact that two of them were also interns who worked on the Airness production surely didn’t hurt.
One of these interns, tonight going by Airmerican Icon, may have been the biggest surprise of the evening. Described as a “quiet theatre intern”, he blew everyone away with his out-of-nowhere stage presence, especially in the second round where he “absolutely came alive” to a cut of “Welcome to the Jungle”. (Tip: If you’re trying to get a first-timer to come out of their shell and try air guitar, this is the perfect song.) It scored him a trio of 6.0’s, but in the end even that wasn’t enough to get him the win — a clear sign of a truly intense competition.
But as far as the rookies go, the conversation pretty much begins and ends with Androgynous Sleazebucket (Andria Starlite). She impressed the crowd and judges enough to score the top spot going into round two, with defending champ Kit Kat trailing by a mere tenth of a point.
These two were literally neck and neck by the end, leading to an intense round three airoff to the classic go-to air off track, Moorhead’s “Ace of Spades”. In the end, the judges were wooed by Kit Kat’s experience and dance floor precision, and she pulled out the win for the second year in a row.
However, this was no easy win for Kit Kat to land. Along with the five newcomers in the competition, 10 USAG vets also graced the stage — a stage that, at four feet off the ground, proved to have its challenges.
Tarradactyl (Tarra Thomas) has seen her share of USAG performances, and her engaging rendition of Pat Benetar’s “Heartbreaker” got the crowd singing and sent her straight to round two. However, she had a little scare when she almost fell off the stage. Rockus was there to save her though, because you never leave an air guitarist behind.
Surprisingly, the judges were sour on a couple longtime USAG vets this time around. Fan Airnation (Brian Dunn) traveled all the way from LA to bring an elaborate skit he described as “high art”. While his raunchy, ridiculous approach never fails to win over the crowd, the judges are usually slower to warm up to Fan Airnation, and this was no exception to that rule.
Another longtime performer, Blaze Baadaxxxe (Barry Rawlins) tried to up his game with the ever-popular tearaway costume, but his issues with tearing his pants off kept his routine from achieving its full potential. If only all of us had a nickel for every time that happened, right?
Cameron “AXL” Rose also returned this year, bringing his “Ned Flanders on a speedball” approach to a ready and willing crowd. His insane take on “Head Automatica” propelled him straight to round two without any hesitation from the judges. He unfortunately got a little tripped up by the forced spontaneity of round two - the Achilles heel for many an air guitarist. He failed to break into the top 3.
Aside from the obvious smorgasbord of standout performers Sacramento had to offer, one of the standout aspects of this show was the music itself. Along with the aforementioned classics, the judges and audience were treated to many amazing go-to air guitar edits, including the Darkness classic “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” (used in the second round for the 2003 World’s competition), “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, Ozzy’s “Crazy Train”, Jimi’s “Voodoo Child”, and several others that helped make this show intense and engaging from start to finish.
While Kit Kat’s win eventually tipped the scales in the direction of the USAG vets on this particular night, the show was an overall testament to the competitive intensity of the air guitar rookie. It reminded us that this is what USAG needs to keep air guitar alive and thriving every year - the fresh, un-jaded perspective of these first-time performers who bring new approaches and attitudes into the fold, and help remind us why we all started doing this outside of our bedrooms in the first place.
And now, Kit Kat gets the chance to rep Sacramento far from the West Coast. She’ll be competing for a spot at U.S. Air Guitar Nationals in the Wild Card National Qualifier in Brooklyn, NYC on August 2nd.
Final Round Two Scores
1. Androgynous Sleazebucket35.9
1. KitKat 35.9
3. Airmerican Icon35.2
5. Cameron AXL Rose34.8
5. Tarradactyl 34.8
Air Off Winner: Kit Kat