Brooklyn's Qualifier Carries on Mindmelting Metal Tradition

-- This post is by Brooklyn qualifier co-organizer Mathromancer. Join this hero of metal along with his fellow organizer Jean-Luc Pickguard on May 1! --  

“Many, many years ago on a distant shore Men did gather secretly beyond a hidden door They travelled long, they travelled far Dark into the night Yes, this the place they’ve chosen To build the Metal site.” Metal Church – Metal Church


For the second year the Brooklyn Qualifier will be held at the bar / venue Saint Vitus on May 1st at 8pm. What is Saint Vitus, you ask? One would say he was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of the Roman Catholic Church whom died as a martyr by the hands of Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. One would say it’s the dance that inspired the Black Sabbath song of the same name on Vol. 4. There are those who would say it’s a quintessential American doom metal band from the late 70s. I would say Saint Vitus is my metal church.

Yet it cannot be a Church without Gods. The stage their unholy altar. Their amps shake the pits of hell from whence they come. Their blood and sweat is consumed in canned form. Their bass and drums force ones head in sacrificial head banging among all. Their guitars melt very flesh. It is these riffs that that allow these Gods to possess the very being of our soul. From which one has no other option than to air guitar.

Saint Vitus has been home to many Gods across metal’s and rock’s vast history. It is here where I have laid myself at the altar of Vitus, head banging myself into major bangovers time and time again. From black metal bands like Primordial, to space rock like Zombi, to even the co-fathers of grunge Nirvana, many bands have blessed us with their presence at Saint Vitus. In honor of such bands and a sign of what may be played, I give you the top 10 air guitar songs that have been played at Vitus in no particular order.


1              Metal church – “Metal Church”


It is only fitting to play Metal Church’s self-titled song from the self-titled album. Fore-fathers of American thrash, Metal Church is known for precision like musicianship, speed, and intensity. Comrades in arms with a classic air guitar band Metallica, they toured around the country sadly to never reach the success of the Big Four do to numerous lineup changes. From the opening minute to the blistering solo though it is hard to imagine not air guitaring to this classic song.


2              Kvelertak - Blodtørst


Few things are more metal then Vikings, copious amounts of alcohol, and violence. Thankfully there exist bands like Kvelertak. A mixture of black metal and rock n roll, Kvelertak plays an aggressive but accessible sound; minus you don’t mind a bearded shirtless Norwegian man yelling at you in old Norse.  An important part of any air guitar song is to balance the riff, solo, and build to maximize one’s minute. Thankfully this track has all of that in full. Best part of seeing this band was it was a post show at another venue. The band was clearly inebriated, as was the audience, and it turned out to be even better what was already an amazing earlier show.


3              Nirvana – Smells like Teen Spirit


I’m not going to lie. I’m not a big Nirvana fan. Respect them to death but their music never really appealed to me.  This song rules regardless.  An important part in air guitar is to get the audience involved and the best way to do that is play something they know. Look, I know you think you’re cool playing Bathory or a random Xmas themed King Diamond song for a minute but sadly no one has any clue what’s going on. (Editor’s note:  the author of this piece wants to  air guitar to Bathory on stage.) However, the simple fact they played at Vitus among other musical luminaries is just pretty fucking awesome.  Which leads me to the next selection.


4              Joan Jett – Bad Reputation


Joining Nirvana on vocals was easily one of the baddest motherfuckers to ever play a guitar on stage, Joan Jett. One of my favorite voices in all of music, Joan Jett has never compromised and only ever made some of the best rock n’ roll around. As Dave Grohl said and I agree with, she does have bigger balls then most men that do the same thing as she. This selection is fun and simple but very effective. It wastes no time and provides more than enough for a solid edit. Any guy or girl could easily destroy this song.


5              Orange Goblin – Rage of Angels


It’s only fitting I include the stoner metal kings from overseas on this list. Especially since the first song I ever air guitared to, was this doozy. (Editors note: the author was booed off stage yet he stuck around for some odd reason.) More or less a band for outlaws, their songs force the head to just hand bang in perfect unison with the precise rhythm section. But the riffs! HAIL TO THE RIFFS! Sludgy and thick, you cannot help but strum along. It also doesn’t hurt that Orange Goblin was one of the nicest bands I’ve met that played Vitus and every time they come through it’s a god damn event.


6              Red Fang – Hank is Dead


Few things:

1)      Red Fang is really good. 2)     Any band that makes an entire video around an air guitar competition they put on that featured many of the finest talent in air guitar that reside in and around Portland you have to include it. 3)     I really really really love this video. 4)     Metal + beer = hell (that’s a good thing)


7              Diamond Head – Am I Evil


Maybe one of the best openings in metal song history. The marching drumming sound alongside the sweeping guitar sucks one in. Following it with a blistering solo into one of the best riffs in metal history you have a masterpiece. One of the bands that birthed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and influencing basically every thrash band in history, seeing Diamond Head at a 200 person club was surreal. Nothing makes me happier then to throw up my invisible orange in honor of metal history and I don’t think I ever put it down at this show.


8              Holy Grail – My Last Attack


Blistering dual guitars? Check Quick up-tempo rhythm section? Check High pitched vocals about awesome things like dragons and wizards? Check Insane soloing? Check


It’s one thing to have two of these things but to have all four, well sign me the fuck up. Holy Grail is one such band. Hell I once fell out of my shower air guitar and windmilling so hard to this track never once missing a note.


9              Vektor – Tetrastructual Minds


The previous selection I mentioned how awesome dragons and wizards are. Yet we all know that science fiction is even cooler!  (Editor’s note: I guess?)  Vektor was one of those bands that I never heard of before. I was just looking for a beer at Vitus post a long day at work. Yet when I walked in, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, I was drawn to the back where I heard some of the most amazing guitar work I’ve ever heard. Vektor is a band that cannot be missed and this live video from Vitus proves that. Hell, just look at the dude stage left, he never stops air guitaring the entire time!


10           Van Halen - Panama


It’s the last entry. And it’s only fitting to include US Air Guitar’s best guitarist Eddie Van Halen. (Editor’s note: the author is still bitter Dimebag didn’t win it.) One of the best guitarist of all time, if I had to pick this is easily my favorite song. Yet if you’re asking, “WAIT MATHROMANCER, YOU MEAN VAN HALEN AND NIRVANA PLAYED VITUS!?!?!” I’d ask you first to stop yelling and second say close. Thankfully I know an amazing Starfleet captain / air guitarist by the name of Jean Luc Picguard who created VanHalentines day. Awesome right? And on such day he convinced Saint Vitus to get a Van Halen cover band to play for over 2 hours. I’ve been to a ton of shows over the three years of Vitus’ existence and I don’t think I ever had more fun than this one.


11           Saint Vitus – Thirsty and Miserable


Sorry folks, I’m bringing this list to 11. Not including the namesake of the bar would be a sin and thus I give you the Saint Vitus song that best describes me. (Editor’s note: Dying Inside is pretty close as well). Slow, brooding, themes of drinking and being a curmudgeon, and followed up by an insane minute long solo. One of my favorite moments was seeing Saint Vitus play Saint Vitus from Saint Vitus at Saint Vitus. It truly was a special moment.

Well folks my top 10 (11) air guitar songs played at Vitus. I know I am missing some bands (Editor’s note: No Carcass or Descendants really?) but I put the first ones that came to my head. So come out on May 1st at Saint Vitus to see some of the finest air guitarists in the tri-state area melt many faces and drop all underwear. We have three amazing judges in Alex Koll, Nigel Blackstorm: heavy metal magician, and Stoya. We have former US champion William Ocean and multi-NYC champion Shreddy Mercury as hosts. We have Iron Maiden’s own beer, TROOPER BEER, as special sponsor. We have prizes and giveaways and all the beer one could ask for. So step up on the altar of Saint Vitus and become an air guitar God or merely worship in their presence.


-- Season: opened. Gauntlet: thrown. --

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