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New York, New York, United States
Mostly visual art and air guitar.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

E Airness Unum: No Guts, No Glory, No Guitars.

    Following up on the indubitable success of the 2013 US Air Guitar Brooklyn qualifier at St. Vitus Bar a couple of weeks ago, local air guitarists Airistotle (currently ranked second in the entire world) and Rocka Khan spearheaded the Manhattan show hosted at Pioneers (formerly Comedy Bar) on this year's summer solstice. Whether influenced by galactic forces or liquid courage, an ever-diverse field of competitors from the Northeast descended upon the stage to earn a chance at rocking the rafters of the Bowery Ballroom on July 2nd.

The crowd at Pioneers gets their buzz on with antici......pation.

    Rookies Killer K (Boston) and Sasha came to test their mettle, though an abundance of life experience was not convincing enough to sway the judging panel of MathRomancer and the husband-wife duo of Justice Rocktor and the Jewish American Princess of Darkness. Thorin Oakenshield (also a first-timer?) then went hard and heavy to good effect, bringing hope (5.6/5.4/5.6) for an unexpected journey into the second round. A walk-on curiously christened Your Uncle Bill brought plenty of rage against inferior hair care products along with ample bro support, but came perilously close to learning the truth about pain when he vaulted onto the judges' table where the unborn son of JR nestled comfortably with JAPD. His scoring average (5.5/5.3/5.2) corresponded with the amount of time it took for him to vanish into thin air soon after.

Clockwise from top left: Lady Air-a-Bella, Thorin Oakenshield, PWN Jett, The Ghost of Operation Rockapussy.

    Spudboy, a transplant from the City of Brotherly Love, returned to his DEVO roots that whipped up a welcome sense of normalcy (if there is such a thing in US Air Guitar). However, his entrenched familiarity with the band seemed to put a damper on forging a truly unique character - never one to lack heart or skill, the identity of Spudboy (5.4/5.5/5.3) will truly sprout with a richer harvest of attitude. Lady Air-a-Bella, badass canine rescuer and the second of three female contestants, had no qualms about showing off the crown jewels with a British national anthem medley. While LAB (5.6/5.5/5.6) has proved capable of running with the big dogs of NYC in earlier showings, her attention to detail may have been too tight a leash on what could have been a hackle-raising performance. The Ghost of Operation Rockapussy, also representing Beantown, provided his own backdrop in the form of looped video via projection then proceeded to thrash the dais with demonic fervor. GOR's all-around solid routine, coupled with the radical decision to include additional theatrics, was sufficient to usher him out of limbo (5.8/5.7/5.7) and into the compulsory round.

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    Doctor Rocktopus (in video above), keen to demonstrate equal aptitude at veterinary medicine and air guitar dissection, had clearly spent many hours on his practice which paid off handsomely (5.7/5.7/5.8) despite a minor slip in the procedure. And even though guest judge JAPD duly noted that her false contractions were a direct result of his animal magnetism, the argument that fellow judge/husband JR would consult a proper OB/GYN for the real event still held water. Veteran air guitarist PWN Jett, who boldly shredded the Bowery Ballroom last season while eight months pregnant, easily slipped back into foxy form then put on a display of fine physical control (5.9/5.7/5.5) to match her simmering sultriness.

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    Fresh from a brief hiatus in Europe, Smiley Rod (in video above) graced the spotlight once again and made up for lost time post haste with an intensely concise act that evoked memories of past champion Fender Splendor. Exhibiting a genuine ferocity that belied his nom de plume, SR (5.8/5.7/5.8) burst forth with contagious energy and aerobic maneuvers to blaze a longer trail into the night. Wrapping up the first round was Rockupine (top finisher of the Boston qualifier a fortnight ago) with his shirt-shedding, table-shaking, platonic man-loving tribute to "The Final Countdown." Intermission saw an air drum battle royale set to Rush's "Tom Sawyer" that sorely missed the presence of Washington, D.C., air guitar legend The Shred, yet was nonetheless chock full of audience members eager to pound along to a classic tune.

    In keeping with US Air Guitar compulsory round tradition, the secret track for all five competitors emerged as the quintessential '90s angst-laden melody "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and after additional prep time allowed by the group air drum session, PWN Jett (5.7/5.5/5.4), DocRock (5.6/5.9/5.5), Rockapussy (6.0/5.9/5.4) and Smiley (6.0/5.9/5.8) pulled out the stops in turn to mixed results from the judges. Regardless of a less-than-dramatic song edit, each played to their respective strengths and progressively showcased the various qualities that merit only the highest of scores on a scale of 4.0 up to 6.0; as their forms (stage presence) followed function (technical ability) and then were topped with fun (airness), the top spot clearly belonged to one man...

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    Mitt Umlaut (in video above), an Empire State mainstay since 2008, garnered a solid advantage in the first round (5.9/5.9/5.8) over his rivals with a consistent balance of instrument knowledge, spatial dynamism and fearless creativity. As evinced from the video above, MU made full use of his bag of tricks and pulled no punches in Round Two to secure a spot at the Bowery Ballroom next week - all three judges were justified in their decision (5.8/6.0/5.8) to award him the Manhattan crown as the evening drew to a cacophonous close.

Justice Rocktor gives major props to Airistotle.

Jamming to "Freebird" - where everyone can shine.

    Any evening out in New York City is bound to yield another tale of intrigue and entertainment, which the overworked and under-appreciated USAG organization never fails to deliver on. This coming Tuesday will promise a truly epic meeting of air guitar virtuosos from New York, Boston, Kansas City and Philadelphia to determine which three will go on to the 2013 Nationals in August.

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    Be excellent to each other and party on, y'all!  \m/

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