Something in the air

Facemelter says “Step up, SD. Pry this air guitar from my hands.”
  • Facemelter says “Step up, SD. Pry this air guitar from my hands.”

This year’s San Diego U.S. Air Guitar competition has taken shape, for the first time, as a grassroots affair.

Jason Farnan (aka Lieutenant Facemelter, the 2010 and 2012 San Diego air-guitar champion) is taking the reins as both the event’s host and promoter. The major change is that the San Diego stop is now one of many “qualifiers,” which will be set up by, in most cases, local veterans of the air-guitar circuit. In the past, one winner from each city on the tour won a free trip to the finals. This year, two contestants from each city will qualify.

“This certainly creates an advantage for potential competitors,” Farnan says. “And since last year’s regional winners get a free pass to semifinals [Farnan included], it also opens up an opportunity for newcomers to win a city that might normally be won by a seasoned veteran.”

Farnan says the changes will also allow the promoters in each city to tailor each event to their particular tastes.

“The great thing about the new format is that U.S. Air Guitar is allowing locals to license their own shows and run them in any way they want. This gives us a real grassroots approach, as it allows us to work with any sponsors we can get, advertise in any format we can find, and run the show in our own, unique way to draw more people in.” For example, Steve Weinberger, local author of the book No Air Guitar Allowed, has “generously offered up a few books to give away at the show. I thought it was a pretty fun collaboration to have a book with that title be given away at the air-guitar competition.”

Since Farnan will be busy hosting the show, San Diego is wide open for new talent to conquer the evening.

What is it about getting onstage and sacrificing all your dignity in the service of a rock song?

“The art of air guitar is all about loving a song so much you can’t help but wish you were a part of it,” Farnan explains.

The U.S. Air Guitar San Diego qualifier takes place at the Casbah on Saturday, June 29.

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How is it a competition when not so much as a single note is played? Maybe 'cause I'm a musician I would judge how accurate the playing looks and not how high the wigged, blue sequined suited imitator jumps. I had the displeasure of watching this on the TV and all I saw were jumpers, arm swingers, (a la Pete Townsend) and kooks. Leave the air guitar to the dance floors, garages and arena floors where they belong and have a battle of real bands. I understand the passion and love for the song they're,...ah, performing, imitating but, whoever heard of an air cooking competition? Nuff sad,...I mean said. C'mon somebody, convince me I'm wrong.

The first mistake is to think of it as only a competition. The US Air Guitar Championships is an experience. It's a sexy, awkward three-way between a rock concert, performance art and comedy. Sure - you would certainly judge a competitor on their technical chops, but would you be entertained watching them sit quietly, hard focused on hitting every "note"? Absolutely not. You want them in that blue sequined jumpsuit jumping all over the stage. You want a confetti cannon to explode as the final cymbal crash hits. You want what in all honesty, is lacking in a lot of real live music performances today - ENERGY.

It's an individual 60 seconds of fury from each air guitarist, followed by the witty banter of the judges, as they sling liquor coated insults and compliments alike to those brave enough to get on stage. It's a brotherhood of idiots who don't take themselves too seriously. And for many of us, it's the only opportunity we have to perform on a stage we otherwise have no business being on. To say that I've played in front of a sold out crowd at The Troubador is pretty damn cool, if you ask me.

So are you wrong? I won't say that you are. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Are you missing out on a good time? Absolutely.

And don't even get me started on my air cooking. My AIRroz con pollo is delectable.

So strange how air guitar makes some people actively irate. It's as if a story about a drag show featured a bunch of ladies commenting, "THIS IS THE STUPIDEST THING EVER, THESE AREN'T EVEN REAL WOMEN."

Yo Facemelter! Sold! Airroz con pollo, thats good.

Competitions are simply about determining who does any given thing best. If not so much as a single note is played in air guitar, why would an air guitar competition require competitors to play notes? The question seems silly.

Like Lt. Facemelter said, though, these are as much performance art as competition, so it doesn't really matter. No one is forced to attend these shows. Air guitar is not taking money out of the pockets of musicians (in fact, many air guitarists play there guitar or other instruments in real bands). It's just good, clean fun. Maybe not clean. But fun. That's why these shows regularly sell out.

You're not the first air guitar skeptic. I've heard from plenty of folks who were dragged to their first air guitar show expecting to have a bad time, only to be converted and return year after year. Videos don't do it justice.

Besides...people have been playing air guitar for decades. Taking it to the stage was a natural progression. I don't know of anyone who air cooks, but if it catches on, I'm sure that'll become a competition, too.

Come check out a show. I guarantee you'll have a great time!

Rock solid, FatCat! Come check out the show and we'll change your mind forever. Free Airroz con pollo until 10pm. Find me and first drink's on me.

Tickets! http://casbah.frontgatetickets.com/choose.php?a=1&lid=81531&eid=91852

Much love to Mitt and Goldiroxxx for the support!

I hear this all the time from "real" musicians -- "what's the point?" The point can be summed up in one word: "airness." It's when the performance transcends just playing along with your song, into an art forma all its own. It's a difficult concept for many to grasp, but for those of us who compete, it's performance art...and insanely fun.

I've "played" the Key Club, the Roxy, and the Troubadour in LA; and I'm getting ready to "Rock The Casbah" in SD, and Busby's East in LA next month. Not many average Joes can make that claim. You really should come see what it's all about.

"To air is human, to air guitar is divine." -- Bjorn Turoque

Rule your air.

Shouldn't the prize package include guitar lessons??

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