It’s a tad embarrassing if you’re not under-19 or haven’t downed a few crates of beer. But air guitar is as natural a human phenomenon as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, so don’t feel shy. I certainly don’t. And more clearly, neither do the nutters who congregate each year for the Cuervo Black US Air Guitar Championship. <b1>
Now technically, this isn’t the Olympics of air guitar. That Biggest Ticket Arena comes every year in Oulu in Finland (and starts next week from August 20 to 22).
But the US Air Guitar Championship in San Francisco is heavyduty flailing about, whose winner represents one of the strongest teams in international air guitarship: the United States.
This year’s winner, Craig Billmeir, who prefers to be known in understated circles as Hot Lixx Hulahan, beat stiff-fingered competition from the likes of Shreddy Mercury and Rockness Monster.
Like in any other top-notch contest, each competitor was judged in three categories: one, technical merit; two, stage presence; three, er, general ‘airness’ — which is the invisible guitar equivalent of, I guess, what Abhinav Bindra in his own sport calls ‘arty’, ‘feel’ and ‘guts’.
In Round One, the proto-rock star conducts a one-minute shlockhausen of a song of their choice. In Round Two, the judges choose a number that all those who make it to that level have to pretend-twang to.
But unlike mime artistes, our air guitarists do not really value silence. On the contrary. And if you thought it’s only sliding fingers down an invisible guitar fret and sticking your tongue out, you’re being unimaginative. <b2>
Reaching for the top
‘His Airness’ Hulahan had to sync his chops with Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy train, not your regular Smoke on the water or Stairway to heaven riff — all while jumping into the crowd and landing on an inflatable baby whale that was bobbing up and down among the heads.
This is the second time that Hulahan has shred the air to the top at the US Air Guitar Champs.
The last time, in 2006, he got the crown by breaking into a flamenco riff that suddenly morphed into Metallica’s The shortest straw.
Considering the man once actually played guitar in a Guns ’n’ Roses tribute band, it must be hard playing an axe without an axe. Instead of headbanging and picking air in front of your stomach in your local pub, why don’t you, gentle air guitarhead, take up the challenge?