September 7, 2008

USA Wins World Air Guitar Championships

In To Err is Human, To Air Guitar, Divine I described the World Air Guitar Championships. My first exposure was through the excellent documentary Air Guitar Nation.

We got a double dose of the 2008 World Air Guitar Championships this year, as the the USA championship was held here in San Francisco, as well as the regional SF competition. We attended both!

The winner of the SF regional was Shred Begley, Jr a.k.a Mr. Awesome.


Here’s a brief video of his winning SF regional air guitar performance.

These air guitar events all work the same way:

  • There’s a 60 second round using music of the performer’s choice.
  • Performances are scored by four judges using an “olympic” 6 point scale.
  • The performers with the 10 highest scores go on to the second round.
  • The second round is 60 seconds of music chosen by the venue.
  • Each competitor performs in score order, lowest score first. Same scoring rules apply.

I believe anyone who’s willing to get on stage can compete at a regional event. It certainly felt that way from some of the performances at the SF regional, which were a little uneven. The US championships were another story. Each regional champ gave outstanding performances; the top three were almost too close to call. It’s amazing how such a completely arbitrary thing (e.g., playing an imaginary guitar) can have such obvious skill disparities. Some people clearly brought it — others, not so much.

I have a few bits of advice from a seasoned audience member, if you’re thinking of busting out your air guitar chops next year:

  1. Pick the most rockin’ section of the absolute rockinest music you can possibly find. This part should be easy, yet many contestants flubbed it, in my opinion.
  2. Enthusiasm is more important than skill. This should be completely obvious in the land of air guitar, but still — worth reiterating. You only have 60 seconds. Make us believe those are the most intense 60 seconds of any rock god’s performance. Do it! Do it now!
  3. Have a unique, memorable finish. Don’t just let things trail off. The ending is what people will remember. So many performances were great but sadly crippled by lack of a decent flourish at the end to hang things on.

The winner of the USA championship was Hot Lixx Hulahan from neighboring Alameda, CA.

(Note that he literally broke his thumb while delivering the first set of his winning performance in the USA championship. That’s how rock it was!) He then went on to take the World air guitar crown in Finland, with this blistering performance:

During one particularly boring lull in a regional performance, someone in the crowd yelled this:

Do something awesome!

Good advice, I think, no matter if your guitar is real, imaginary, or something else altogether.

TIME video report on the 2008 World Championships, narrated by Bjorn Turoque:

September 12, 2008 at 3:28 am

Check out this article that I was quoted in for a Guitar Hero vs Air Guitar fight!

October 13, 2008 at 8:08 pm

This company in BKK has already been reported for stealing other peoples images and also appears to have one of your ‘ait guitar’ images

December 11, 2018 at 9:15 am

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