SF Qualifier: Get down with the Bone
The following post was written by West Coast US Air Guitar legend Dirty Airy (Aron Carlton), who performed the duties of Air Traffic Control at the San Francisco 2013 US Air Guitar Qualifier:
Oh air guitar, oh air guitar...where for art thou my air guitar?
If you attended the San Francisco qualifier on June 14th, you know that all the performers’ air guitars, and in fact the entire show was outright stolen by one dark-horse contestant named Pops Rockwood. Like the stranger in a Clint Eastwood movie, Pops came into town anonymous, and left a legend.
The evening started off with the usual rock star treatment backstage at the Red Devil’s Lounge. Booze was provided, rules were explained, competition was sized up, and the hostess of the evening Goldi Roxx was more than competent in wrangling the event’s talent into their prescribed positions.
Singar the Goat Demon continued his running curse of drawing the number one spot for the evening, a prestigious position that warranted a hit off the bottle of Jack, and being only a small field of 8, it was decided that the hostess would seek out more competition from the crowd later on.
The evening started out with the one and only miscue from aspiring sound guy Dirty Airy as he finished the remaining track from someone else before hitting the track for Singar. The Goat Demon showed his intestinal fortitude, and was able to shoulder roll his way into round two with a series of low scoring 5.5’s. Quiet man Or Gas Sam shed his meek persona and got the crowd pregnant through his jorts, giving birth to a spot in round two.
Crankenstein, who was truly a sight to behold, was able to slip and slide his way into the second round by the deceased skin of his cut off pants. L.A. Champion Shred Boy R.D. creeped the judges out of a trip into the compulsory round, but in true Shred fashion, became an instant bench coach and cheerleader for the remaining performers. Sophomore performer Shred Theodore Logan gave his best chops yet and garnered the first cards from any judge to break the 5.5 mark. Macho Cheese was told by celebrity judge Shred Nugent that he was “more cheese than macho” and could not parlay his Slayer track into round two.
Multiple time San Francisco champion Cold Steel Renegade came to the party with a new hairdo and a mustache to boot. A glitter enhanced performance, while stymied by an all or nothing opportunity for the crowd to sing along, was good enough to push him through. The last performer of round one, Dick Lazerous, was the contestant of the night who got the bone.
The bone is when someone gives it their all and it flies right over the judges' heads. Many performers have gotten the bone due to tired judges, lack luster crowds or performances too complicated for mortal eyes to absorb. Air guitarists to receive the bone include, but are not limited to:
Mean Melin (National Championships 2010): Celebrity judges used him as a punchline for bad jokes. Scores received were a joke as well.
Awesome (S.F. Regional 2010): Awesome’s co worker (and one of the judges) accused the performance of “jumping the shark”. Awesome was hung out to dry.
Rock Ness Monster (National Championships 2008): Rock Ness’s slow motion performance was seen as “too experimental.” The monster received a final score of 4, 4, 6 for his efforts.
Crusher (too many times to count): Has a knack for getting the bone. There’s no other way to explain it.
This writer wants to bring up the Bone in an attempt to curb any loss of enthusiasm for our beloved sport. Let not the Bone keep you from playing air guitar. One time champion Sanjar the Destroyer was sent off the deep end after receiving the Bone, and is now the standard for what a sore loser is in the world of air guitar. Dont let the Bone get you down, Dick Lazerous. Just bury it and move on. This writer appreciates the performance everyone gives in our sport, even if it feels unnoticed.
After the official entrants had blown their wad on the Red Devil Lounge, madam of the evening Goldi Roxx asked the crowd if they wanted in on the action. Out of the packed house, three entrants emerged. The birthday party group of “Meow” was formed on the spot and they performed some grinding on each other while listening to Bon Jovi on the stage. Judges gave them a singles score of 1.5 each, and the crowd sang Happy Birthday. That was a first.
Scripture, a man who has his air guitar name built into the middle of his real name threw down to the Beastie Boys' Sabotage, and although the crowd’s immediate jubilation looked promising, Scripture didn’t live up to their expectation and was denied infamy.
The dark-horse to be reckoned with however was Pops Rockwood. After carrying her air guitar to the stage and kicking her amp to get the desired tone, Pops melted the entire crowd into a puddle of face with a version of the Ghostbusters theme song. The first 6 of the evening was dealt out, and Pops left the stage with a severe lead in need of severe tactics if she was to be overtaken.
The halftime performance of Shred Nugent, CSR and Tiger Claw brought a healthy dose of nostalgia to the lounge, courtesy of CSR’s Cheetara onesie and a Thundercats finale. Speaking of halftime shows, Dirty Airy will be hosting the Santa Cruz Qualifier on July 24, and it’s halftime performance will be brought to you by Sin Sisters Burlesque. Cheap Plug. After the Thundercats review, scores were tallied, and round two commenced.
The track of the evening was brought by Goldi Roxx and proved to be a tricky one; Ennio Morricone’s Ecstasy of Gold as performed by Metallica. The first three performers were lambasted by the judges as they made their final appearance of the evening. Cold Steel Renegade performed the most high-flying segment of the night by starting off his song on perched on the top of a speaker stack, and ending it Coyote Ugly-style, standing on the bar. Shred Theodore Logan had time to study the track, and hit both the false finish and the real one perfectly.
That left the newcomer Pops Rockwood.
There is something to be said about the effect of a memorable performance (such as Pops’ first round) that leaves a good taste in the mouth of judges. After bringing down the house in round one, some performers ascend to a level beyond reproach. In essence, they can do no wrong.
Now, Rockwood, was able to ride both the pole on stage, and the shoulders of some bar patrons (a la William Ocean) to a set of 666s from the judging panel.
Was her technical ability flawless? No.
Was it the greatest performance since Hot Lixx in Finland 2008? Nope. (Speaking of Hot Lixx, he's quite the photographer. Check out his best 'pole position' pics of the night below - ed.)
But what it lacked in those two aspects, it more than made up for in what we like to call: the hero factor.
How many people can say that they decided to go to a bar for some Friday night drinks and ended up becoming an Air Guitar Champion? The spontaneous nature of Friday’s events are truly a testament to the true power of air guitar. Like the slow clap in a high school movie, Pops Rockwood was able to bring everyone onto the same page and have them rooting for the underdog in a way non-existent outside of the movies.
Believing in world peace seems a folly until something like this happens. With so many cards stacked against it, a world without animosity seems more mythical than a pack of unicorns riding bicycles down Polk Street. Yet in her brave moment, Pops made us believe in something. It is invisible. It is fueled by heart and gumption. It dares to throw caution to the wind and trust it’s fellow man not to drop it on the floor. It is Air Guitar; the tinderbox that sparks the flame of world peace.