SF Day 2: Redemption

Eternal gratitude to Christine Zona Foto for all of today’s amazing photographs.

Two nights ago as Björn Türoque (Dr. Daniel Crane, Ph.D), the face of US Air Guitar, stepped into the green room during our crowded contestant briefing, I valiantly shouted, “ladies and gentlemen, you all know who this man is–”

“—the guy who turned down my facebook request!” responded a forlorn SINGAR THE GOAT DEMON (Forrest Stone).  Save for a few clutch moves by Friday’s champ SHRED NUGENT (Kurt Brown) and a couple others, Goat Demon’s pre-show Facebook jibe marked the last time I smiled all night.

Singar the Goat Demon can’t read Björn’s status updates.
Photo credit Christine Zona Foto.

So then how is it our next show on Saturday rocked so fucking hard? Was it the 6.0-talent that signed up, including AWESOMO DOMINGO (Alex Koll) and last night’s champ, COLD STEEL RENEGADE (Matthew Feldstein)? Was it the douche-free judging panel of air guitar legends and mortal nemeses C-DIDDY (David Jung) and BJÖRN Türoque? Maybe it was Saturday’s third celebrity judge, the fucking legendary Bay Area icon DR. FRANK (of MTX!)? Was it the heartthrob pushing spacebar?

After two polar opposite shows, it’s refreshing to know that as US Air Guitar hobbles into its second decade we still don’t have this thing down to a science.  Fans can be fickle pieces of unflushable shit, competitors can be demanding assholes, good cities can blow hard, and the guy pushing spacebar can make some really bad compulsory song choices.  Or everyone can do everything right, and for some reason everything can come out cooky.

But fuck damn if it don’t feel great when we nail it.

Saturday night’s crowd crapped its pants in unison when confirmed blog reader and celebrity judge C-DIDDY disrobed himself to reveal his trademark Hello Kitty chest plate.  This was just moments before he executed the half time show I want eternally projected on my tombstone benedicamus domino deo gratias a-fucking-men.  It was a duet with Björn Türoque, who last night shared the stage with the Asian Fury he never bested during his competitive career.  For a brief keyboard moment the two legends were joined by last night’s Master of Airemonies, himself a damn sexy legend, HOT LIXX HULAHAN (Craig Billmeier).  Hot Lixx, who’s been competing since 2006, was a relative spring chicken up there, wailing away at the air-keyboard sandwiched by 18 years of competitive air guitar experience.  Afterward when the competition resumed, Hot Lixx asked a mesmerized ZERO PROSPECTS (Kate Gray) for the official scorecard which she had forgotten to retrieve from the Official Score Keeper.  When Zero Prospects ran to the sound booth to retrieve it, a mesmerized Official Score Keeper had completely forgotten to tally up the first round scores.

Blown Away: Spring chicken Hot Lixx Hulahan on the keyboard. Photo credit Christine Zona Foto.

One more brief word about C-Diddy: When Björn was teaching him the ins and outs of judging before the show, C-Diddy asked a question that epitomizes an air guitar champion: “How much time should I take to speak? I just don’t want this to be all about me.” Projected onto every shitty competitors’ tombstone I see on the road should be the converse to C-Diddy’s razor: “He did it for himself (and died alone).”

Among the many Saturday night competitors who will die surrounded by a well-lubed harem of the ones they love: female competitors Gran-Motley-Poo (Janine Lococo) and ReprAmanda (Amanda Williams); the brilliant if misunderstood Snake Riffsken (Nick Brown) and drunken ninja master Gobo (Todd Nakagawa); the “how did we end up here?” explosive confusion of LLcoolSteve (Stephen Hyde) and Ayatollah of Aireola (Hunter Leake); the only half totally-racist Mexicutioner (Ryan Gantz, third member of his family to compete this season); and, of course, SinGar the Goat Demon (Forrest Stone) and Tiger Claw (Dan LaFever), both of whom gave lengthy interviews to an apparently lazy CW Bay Area who still haven’t posted squat.  

Last night’s honorable mention award, even though he shoved us onto thin ice with the venue’s no-confetti patrol, goes to Six String General (Tim Granlund).  Last night he was less a pastiche of air guitar greats and more his own thing.  One day, when he focuses on which of his numerous moves work the crowd best and then tosses the rest, this guy will powwow with greatness.

Six String General demonstrates firearm superiority.  Photo credit 
Christine Zona Foto.

Photo credit Christine Zona Foto.

Long-time competitor IROQ Z (Brian Tom) was propelled into round two at the top of the heap thanks to his own Asian Fury and glitter-star pasties. But he peaked too early – as is often the case with air guitarists – and didn’t have enough gas in his tank to blow us away in Round 2.

IROQ Z pulls the heavens back towards hell.
Photo credit Christine Zona Foto.

Dirty Airy, one of the few who wowed us the previous night, did it again when he advanced to the compulsory round yet again.  The CW Bay Area crew was all over the place last night, where I overheard Hot Lixx synopsize thusly:

“For the first time we had a nude male competitor who was actually good at air guitar.  Usually male nudity in round two is a last ditch effort for those with no schmaltz left in their back pockets.  But Dirty Airy, who was draped in an American flag and one sock (not on his foot), did just that.  Shortly into the compulsory song a woman (er, a friend of my dad’s) snatched his sock and stuffed it down her shirt, leaving Dirty Airy (whose parents were in attendance) to finish his fantastic routine as if nothing had happened.”

Dirty Airy dares even us patriots to go a little gay. Photo credit Christine Zona Foto.

I would add that there was a brief look of panic across Dirty’s face when the sock snapped off, momentarily confirming the crowd’s biggest fear: that his power is derived from the sock, without which his rock will no longer thunder.  But his recovery was swift and potent, earning him the highest second round scores of the night from all but the insecure judge that low-balled him with a 5.4.

Crusher cannot quiet the crowd despite his BO.
Photo credit Christine Zona Foto.

It came down to two mighty competitors in the San Francisco redux show last night: Cold Steel Renegade’s confetti and CRUSHER (John Healy).  Crusher was pure metal in the first round, shredding to what I think was a Steel Dragon track from the flick Rock Star.  Far and away the crowd favorite, Crusher’s second round performance to our “Any Way You Want It” compulsory track was one-tenth of a point higher than CSR’s.  However, the term “cumulative” means we add both rounds’ scores together.  In the end, Cold Steel Renegade won the 2011 San Francisco Redemption Show, 35.2 to 35.1. 

Thanks to The Independent for being so forgiving about our mess, and most of all to San Francisco for being yourselves again.