Kara Picante's air journal and a preview of Portland
The following post is from Kara Picante, host and co-organizer (with SUPER FAN Cherry Airlexus, Marketair Extraordinaire) of the 2013 US Air Guitar Portland Qualifier, happening this Saturday June 29!
There’s the story about a room full of third-graders who were told about a yogi in India who ate a car. Many students looked confused and asked, “Why?” or exclaimed, “Ugh!” But one child smiled at the teacher and burst out laughing. This child is the fan of air guitar. The fan who says, “Seriously? You air guitar on stage and in front of people?! That is so cool! Can I find you on YouTube? Where can I buy tickets?” — the fan who “gets it” when you go onstage for sixty seconds and try to eat a car.
The Little Air Guitarist that could (after several attempts)
make it to the second round.
I “discovered” air guitar three years ago at a local bar contest where I watched a friend compete. At the time I hadn’t seen “Air Guitar Nation” nor had I ever strummed an invisible instrument in my own bedroom let alone before a crowd. The guys of Airpocalypse desperately needed participants so I stepped in after my friend and beat out the many drunks fine competitors who followed, earning me a spot at the Portland Regional Competition that weekend. I think my median score was a 4.8. That’s when it started for me, the quest for world domination burning desire to get a strong enough score to make it into the second round.
A Look Back at 2012
Jim Morrison said: “You trade in your reality for a role.” He means that as we get older we forget we’re more than family members or wage earners or whatever. We forget that life is big, that we should be big with it. In air guitar you HAVE to be big! It’s just you up there. This doesn’t mean act like a Roman emperor all the time, it means celebrate all that’s bold and creative in ourselves. We don’t always have to be in survival mode. We can eat a car… or make crazy faces and play our air guitar.
Air guitar is a quirky, stupid, and absolutely awesome endeavor. It’s taught me things about myself I never would have learned otherwise. One is that when the music starts my tongue is out of control I do indeed make crazy faces. Another thing is that I won’t be discouraged by a mishap or two. Something happens when the wig comes on; I not only want to flirt with as many people as possible melt some faces off, I want to see just how far I can take this commitment to something that makes no sense. A quick recap of last season will show what I mean.
I was edged out of the second round in my own hometown qualifier by a guy named Lefty. Lefty wasn’t there to compete, he’d been plucked from the bar at the last minute to replace an injured competitor; he was a good sport. He was also missing an arm. In its place hung a little ukulele-sized guitar, which he twitched and strummed heroically to a mix of “Ace of Spades.” He scored sixes. This knocked me out of the last spot for the second round. It was the first time I’d been beaten by a competitor with an air-arm.
Feeling I’d performed better than I ever had I went to Seattle the next day to try my luck there. It was not to be. Maybe it was running on no sleep and sitting in a car in full makeup and costume while my friend sped down I-5 like Justin Bieber. Maybe it was the asshat door guy who wouldn’t let me in even though there was an air guitar contest that night and I looked like Daryl Hannah in “Blade Runner.” Maybe it was the venue, skanky as an alcoholic 50-year-old former beauty queen up at 10 a.m. after an all-night bender, or the green room facilities that had a bathtub backed up with brownish/black demon poo muck. Whatever it was, I fell short of my expectations and left again empty-handed (of course everyone but the national and world champs leave these things empty-handed) in terms of a second-round shot.
But in my own mind I was not defeated. Around 2 a.m. we pulled off the interstate into a gas station where the cashier eyed my gold-and-black zebra-stripe pants. “Did you win?” she asked when I explained the costume. “Not yet,” I replied, my wig in disarray, my eye makeup and lipstick smeared like Heath Ledger… (I will not let a madman kill an accurate Joker reference) and ha ha, I wasn’t joking!
To sum up the rest: I competed in L.A. at the Troubadour, didn’t win but left inspired by the experience. So inspired that when I was invited to the Dark Horse competition in Denver the next week I entered… and advanced to the second round! Cue the Rocky Balboa music. Two days later I stepped onstage as a fifth-place Dark Horse winner at the Nationals, amid balloons and hollers and blinding lights in a celebration of the very reason — two days after the Aurora theater shooting — we pick up our air guitars instead of weapons. And though I didn’t do my best I knew I’d gone the distance, so to speak, having performed in the first and last contests of the season. It was an amazing experience, all because I was open to it. And that’s what I hope people who are new to the sport can take away from this post… to be open, put a wig on and have faith. If I can do it, so can you.
A SNEAK PEAK AT SOME OF THE COMPETITION
Okay, this year the game has changed and the rules are slightly different. Last years Regional Champions, who were quite often local favorites, will not be competing in these qualifiers in turn opening up opportunities for old and new hopefuls alike:
A member of Airpocalypse and a solid contender who sports a light up jacket and a belt buckle that blazes forth his name just in case you forget it. He has competed from the first time air guitar came to Portland. Whalin’ BigAir has the chops and consistently makes it to the second round. Is this going to be the year of BigAir?
Finger Lickin’ Good
Fairly new to the scene, this newcomer strutted into the 2012 Portland Regional Competition at Dante’s last year directly from the Max Train fully made up AND glam rock costumed. His stage presence like his overall look was electric. I look forward to what he will bring this year and so should you!
There is no confirmation yet as to whether this gentleman will be joining us on June 29th but word on the street (actually Facebook, but the street sounds way cooler), is that he will be in attendance, (hopefully) donning stripey pants and a slightly porny stache with a routine that never fails to please.
Rumor has it that at the age of twelve, Battlesquirrel lost his virginity to a she-beast with "Born To Go" by Hawkwind playing in the background. Upon completing the task, he immediately sprouted massive amounts of body hair. The forest of his body encased in white cotton and pink spandex, screams with the brutal solos of early thrash. We look forward to what this mighty titan will bring to the stage this year.
Who’s gonna win? There is no way to tell. It may be one of these guys, someone else or it could even be YOU! Why don’t you come and find out? Not only will you be having an awesome time AND pouring your faces in a cup because they have melted off BUT you will be supporting The Sun Program in which all the profits from the Portland Qualifier are going to. Check out www.usairguitarpdx.com for tickets, ENTRY and information on the wonderful program that we are supporting.