Seattle: Space Needle, Space Bar
CHINATOWN HUSTLAIR points to the stars to start his track. All photos courtesy of Janie Marie Photography.
WHALIN’ BIGAIR and UM, the Joanie and Chachi of today’s competitive air guitar, faced off in a second round nail-biter Saturday night at El Corazon. After out-shredding her boyfriend by a very slim margin, Um (Sheri Dietrich) gets sent to Denver for the 2012 Championships. For his part, Bigair (Mahlon Koopman) gets pity sex. Everybody wins.
Seattle’s half time performance included 75% of AIRPOCALYPSE, Seattle’s premiere air band and all male nude review. TONY TAPATIO (who took Portland’s regional Friday night) was joined by Um’s taller half and CHINATOWN HUSTLAIR, who thrashed out a long-form tribute to US Air Guitar’s tin anniversary by re-appropriating some legendary Toto tunes.
And CONRAD IRONS (Derek Beck) followed up Friday’s electric Portland performance with some more first rate shit Saturday. The encrypted firewalled top secret Finnish scoring spreadsheet is not available from GoGo inflight’s insanely overpriced wifi (that I’ll never get reimbursed for), but as I recall Irons was tossed one shitty score that prevented a three-way with Um and Bigair. I mean tie. A three-way tie into the second round.
For me, the highlight of the night was CHINATOWN HUSTLAIR’S (Jason L. Cheung’s) 60 second homage to ATC (West Hays), the man who pushes spacebar to start each song and then blogs about it afterward. Hustlair edited his track with 5 or 6 built-in glitches and gags that were as familiar as my own BO, including such classics as, “oops, I played the wrong track!” “awkward silence–” and my all-time favorite, “I’m a racist.”
Hustlair was exploring the traditional USAG paradigm, where as the curtains rise each performer shares an indelible connection with ATC. Posture as we may, air guitarists are nervous as shit under the spotlight and I’m nervous as shit from the shadows. Every single time. What steadies the nerves and starts the show is his finger pointing to the stars and my finger slamming the spacebar. This is why I received the nickname we all poke fun at: “Spacebar,” but few know the moniker was self-assigned. For it is the spacebar that connects me to performer, performer to audience, and airness to universe.
The spacebar was invented to separate words with air and opportunity. From the stage and sound booth of every single show, we improve upon the original model.
However, as post-modernist and former US Champion ROCKNESS MONSTER can attest, when you go heavy meta you will either get served 4’s or 6’s – nothing in between. Saturday night, Hustlair was no exception to this rule. He received mostly 4.0’s from the gaveled panel of celebrity philistines.
For the next stretch of the tour I am on assignment for Facebook and also Twitter and my iPhone and google. For the first time in the better part of a decade, I will experience US Air Guitar as most Americans: through the internets. Although excited for the opportunity to experience the insanity as a layman, I am nevertheless melancholic about not seeing my easterly pals for the Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Kansas City, and DC shows. But at least no one can shit on me for selling most of those shows through ticketmaster, which turns my stomach like castor oil at a pie eating contest. Like so many fucking scapegoaters from crimes now past, we really didn’t have a choice.
Speaking of fucking goats, shout out to SINGAR THE GOAT DEMON (Forrest Stone) who made it to the second round Saturday night with a first round performance that was the best of his professional career.
Thanks again to Janie Marie Photography for all of today's amazing art.