From the womb, kicking and screaming: The illustrated history of air guitar
The following post is written and illustrated by Smo AKA Jean Luc Pickguard AKA Buzzthrill AKA Milo Rockerman AKA Dean Razorback AKA The Wairwülf, co-organizer of the 2013 US Air Guitar Brooklyn Qualifier:
Everyone is born with an air guitar.
How you choose to brandish your spectral axe is entirely up to you...OR IS IT?!
Up front at the side of the stage, your pendulum of a head feels as though it's inches away from the Marshall 4x12 that is pushing so much air it might as well be a fan. You look down and realized your picking hand has taken action on it's own and is suddenly accompanying the band, you are helping to power the riffage happening in front of you, you are part of the show now, one with the experience.
Heading home after a long day at the office, headphones blaring, the weight of the world and mundane responsibilities on your shoulders. Suddenly the most righteous solo ever executed scorches past your eardrums! The next thing you know you're doing a jump kick off of a fire hydrant and shredding as your feet hit the pavement again. There is nothing holding you down, the music is all that there is, and you have no control over it!
Air guitar is POSSESSION!
But truthfully it's not only being taken over by the power of music. It's an expression of triumph or joy! A celebration of things that are awesome! A gesticulation of excellence! Even a means of communicating a sick riff! It's a language all its own.
[for gesticulation of excellence see below reference!]
But whatever the application, air guitar is an intrinsically personal experience.
When it comes to the world of competitive air guitar, something else entirely can happen. This private, personal activity is thrown into the spotlight. What was once accompaniment or a fantasy of playing that scorching solo becomes the spectacle all it's own! When a guitar player is holding a wooden instrument, they are fettered to the stage in a way. Limited by... having to play actual notes. But when one can take the pure performance element away from that experience and turn the personal spiritual transcendence of melting faces with their invisible guitar ... that's what audiences will pay to see!
It's not about who is "better" it's an activity for everyone! But if you can take it, be entertaining, make the audience travel to that personal place with you and imagine the tower of speakers at your back, THAT is performance! THAT is competitive air guitar! THAT IS EXCELLENT!!!
New York has a rich history of air guitarists that know how to melt faces in transcendental performances. Their birth air guitars' shielded instrument cables going straight through their bellybuttons, into their souls and emanating back out over the audience.
This can be intimidating, walking among giants, but the beauty of the qualifiers this year is that it gives people a chance to cut their teeth. You have some time to hone your performance in competition, get accustomed to being on stage, and have an opportunity to compete in the region! I love New York. Air guitar defines a massive part of my life here in this city. Making sure there was a qualifier in Brooklyn was hugely important to me personally. And now that there is a bar in the area who does things like host an all Rush air drumming competition to give away tickets to the upcoming show it was obvious where this contest needed to happen.
So be you new to this game, a curious onlooker who wants to step on the stage, or a seasoned veteran; COME FORTH! Let us witness your possession and watch you slay the demons of bogusness with the righteous power of rock and roll on Wednesday at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, NY! Keep the amazing heritage of New York Air Guitar alive!!! ROCK ON DUDES!!!
Flyer/t-shirt design by Kuki Ariel