Northeast Semifinals: Airistotle Still Child-King

Smiley Rod

Relative newcomer SMILEY ROD (Justin Magaldi) gives Airistotle a run for his money at the 2014 Northeast Semifinals in New York City.


NEW YORK CITY -- Over a decade ago, co-commissioners Kriston Rucker and Cedric Devitt adapted the Finish air guitar standards into three pithy and wholly unachievable metrics: perfection in technical ability, stage presence, and airness.  “Walk on stage empty-handed and deliver the best performance anyone has ever seen.” And now, years later, the nation’s top talent has surpassed those erstwhile unachievable metrics several times over.  When five people from every show hit every single mark, how the hell are we supposed to judge them?


Quipped co-commissioner Rucker after the show, “We might need new criteria.”


Masterful was Tuesday’s champion AIRISTOTLE (Matt Burns) – who years ago arrived on the scene a gawky tween and has developed into a gawky tween champion – as was relative newcomer, SMILEY ROD (Justin Magaldi), the pride of Long Island.


New Yorkers were treated to powerful reemergences from Brooklyn’s RICKY STINKFINGER (Alex Forbes), Koreatown’s G. T$O MONEY (Del-Kun Chen), and Brooklyn’s MARTEEKA (Marquina Iliev-Piselli).  Smiley Rod and Ricky Stinkfinger will accompany Airistotle to the Kansas City Finals next month.  Several others are rumored to have dark horse nods in the works, but with no official world yet from the Office of the Co-commissionership.


Manhattan: its athletes are bigger, its theater is gayer, and its Brooklyns always lager into the wee hours – so you’d think it would be tough to pack a multi-level rock venue on the Tuesday before Independence Day.  Yet half the city showed up to cheer those who advanced from earlier Qualifiers held throughout the region.  What they got in return was perfection, and a night where the judges searched high and low to find the slightest flaws.


Take G. Tso’s compulsory round act; he was first to perform in round two, which means he only heard this edit once.  The judges had to shave off a tenth of a point because “Well, you missed that last note”:


Take Smiley Rod, still the pride of Long Island, who perfectly contrasted veteran WINDHAMMER’S seasoned energy with his own silhouetted hot mess:

Smiley Rod 2

Smiley RodSmiley Effing Rod (Justin Magaldi)


G. Tso is becoming ever more abstract as he continues to mature into one of our favorite acts to watch.  Is that an athletic mouthpiece or an orthodontic retainer? Why does he hang his air guitar so high? Why is he choking himself?




Marteeka, after years of “that was pretty good” deliveries, amazed the crowd with her new style that blends Romeo DanceCheetah breakdance stops with her own lengthy grace.


Ricky Stinkfinger, dressed as a statutory rapist and performing to a song about statutory rape, brought the “different factor” judges often seek out when the talent is so high:


Tuesday’s show blazed through New York along with a torrent of press from NY1 and Fox News.  In a cab headed to the show, a suspicious driver was calling bullshit when his passengers said “no, seriously, we’re playing air guitar at the Bowery Ballroom tonight.” Amid his disbelief, the little TV screen in his cab chimed-in with that morning’s NY 1 interview.


As his passengers unloaded their gear, the driver walked up to the window to buy a ticket.


Ricky Stink NY1