Eastern Conference Finals: Friendzone & The Artiste Break Ties, Wind

ChampionsPhoto by Stig Roo.

Many of today's photos were borrowed from the internet. If we messed up the attribution, please let us know.


NEW YORK CITY -- The headlines in Finland this morning are all screaming “Pyhä paska palloja!”


In English, “unprecedented” doesn’t begin to describe Saturday night’s Eastern Conference Finals at the Bowery Ballroom. Extraordinary? Excruciating? Maybe “Banana fucking pants” is as close as we’re gonna get.


Every weekend, half of Manhattan heads for the Hamptons or up the Hudson, so about 800,000 are left to maneuver the tourists, hot garbage and traveling air guitar champions. Last night, every single one of those 800,000 showed up at the Bowery Ballroom and saw a true Pyhä paska palloja if ever there was one, as FRIENDZONE (Rob Weychert) and THE AIRTISTE (Jeffrey Stiles) tied one another in three consecutive air offs. But perhaps the most incredible thing was not a single one of those New Yorkers in attendance left before the long show was over.


It was extraordinary and excruciating and without a doubt one for the record books.

Friendzone and Airtiste both received perfect scores in rounds one and two; their compulsory track was some weird shit by England’s Royal Blood; the first air off song was a less weird “Throwing Stones” by Imperial State Electric; the second air off was an even weirder-than-Royal-Blood number by seminal Finnish band Hanoi Rocks, which I think was eventually nixed by co-commissioner Kriston Rucker; finally there came a hard rock classic and USAG staple “Rock You Like a Hurricane” edit.


At some point, with a house manager charging us for every minute we played past curfew, the two eternally tied performers – exhausted, hungry, and eager to replenish the PBRs they sweat and bled across the stage – agreed to split the ticket and call it a tie.


friend zone and airtiste"Let's just cal it a tie already." Photo by Stig Roo.


Over two hundred people tuned into the live stream, which doubled every time the system logged them off and signed them back on again. If you happened to miss any of the live stream due to such technical diffies, you can direct your complaints to our IT guy at billg@microsoft.com. We knew going into it the venue’s internet was shit, and our backup plan, almost got us there. To those like World Champion MEAN MELIN who guided us toward what few successful connections we made, a hardy “thanks mang” with a side of “just fucking come to the show next year? PLEASE?!”


WindhammerPhoto by Alix Piorun from alixpiorun.com.


Paska palloja and all the technical juju aside, rolling into New York was incredible as always. Boston’s SMILEY ROD (Justin Magaldi) led off the second round and hit every fucking lick; fellow Bostonian OPERATION ROCK-A-PUSSY (Michael Lovely) followed him with similar technical perfection; MATH ROMANCER (Paul Martino), unlike many other air guitarists, is far less overweight than he is undertall, which he uses to his advantage in perfectly timed round two stage dives, a move that’s become his trademark; SPUD BOY (Richard Anderson) delivered Devo-quality Devo, which pleased and angered as many fans as would the real Devo; SONIC BITCH and THUNDERBALL (Mrs. and Mr. Rachelle Landreth), who advanced to the the second round in between making more children, vowed to fucking crush all competitors foreign and domestic as soon as they find a sitter. (Apparently, they’re calling this mission “door number two.”)


Rock a pussy and AirtisteAirtiste goes down in history. Rock-a-Pussy goes down on anything. Photo by Michael Lovely.


In one of his umpteenth air offs, Airtiste, who’s a bit more life-sized than Math Romancer, would offer a stage dive of his own. Even deeper in the night, he paid homage to WILLIAM OCEAN (Andrew Litz), with a shoulder-mounted crowd surf across the floor.


Friendzone, who was once Windhammer, and The Airtiste, who was once Rockupine, weren’t the only new personas to perform this weekend.


Once known as CAPT. JEAN-LUC PICKGUARD, THE WIZARD (Thomas Smolenski) ditched the final frontier for a Gandalf persona and continues to prove himself as one of the industry’s best character performers. “You shall not pass” my ass, The Wizard was universally appreciated by both crowd and judges, and will be sent to the National Championships in Portland next month as the official representative of Middle Earth. Among his trifecta of key moves this weekend: (1) maintaining his wizard cone despite profuse headbangs; (2) seemingly having even more fun than everybody else; (3) producing a 12-sided die from his crotch to settle the order of performances in the compulsory rounds. Needless to say he rolled a six. Fucking wizards.


Wizard by Jeffrey StilesThe Wizard. Photo by Jeffrey Stiles.


We should of known the shit would hit the fan as soon as Boston's CAPT. AIRHAB's (Matt LeBel) track dripped through the PA. A metal version of "Diahrreah," by God knows who, serenaded the crowd while Airhab, pockets filled with pudding, wiped his ass all over the front row . . . effectively melting their faces with a never-before-seen move that is unlikely to be repeated. The judges, who failed to advance Capt. Ka-Ka to the second round, were apparently less impressed than I was.


The judging Saturday night was fucking superb, and for that we owe a debt of gratitude to Rocky Rhoads. SNL’s Natasha Rothwell, music industry legend Leigh Lust, and comedian Nimesh Patel took this shit seriously, picked the right winners, and suffered permanent urethral damage from extended urine suppression.




The absence of such East Coast heavyweights as William Ocean, 2014’s U.S. Champion AIRISTOTLE (Matt Burns, who gets a buy into the National Finals), and local sophisticate RICKY STINKFINGER, enabled an emergent tier of new characters to shine onstage.  Advancing to the National Championships in Portland is Friend Zone, The Airtiste and The Wizard.


Congratulations to RHAKA KHAN and MRS. KHAN, one of whom was drunk enough to propose on stage last night and the other one of whom was drunk enough to say yes.


We’ll post an official list of National Finals invitees (excluding dark horses) this week. In anticipation of that announcement, we’re left with two choices.


Door #1: Take our rage to the internets and curse the day USAG and its crew of highly skilled volunteers tried to find the best fucking air guitarists the world has ever seen, or . . .


Door #2: Agree that American competitive air guitar has a higher calling: