Last night at St. Vitus in Brooklyn was the first qualifying round for the U.S. Air Guitar National Championships. Yes, if you didn’t know, there is an international air guitar competition held every year in Oulu, Finland, and these qualifying rounds separate those who don’t have what it takes from those who do.
 
Each air guitarist is judged on a scale from 4 and 6, with the perfect score being 666, of course. Judging criteria is based on technicality, stage presence and “airness,” which cannot be explained, but you certainly know it when you see it. Seventeen competitors took the stage last night to prove their airness to the judges with a one-minute music clip of their choice to shred to as hard as they could. The top five move on to Round 2, where players pick a number at random, and are then given a song to shred to, most unfamiliar with what they’re hearing until it’s played.
 
Many of the players have competed in years prior, including Windhammer, G. Tso Money, Mathromancer, Jean Luc-Pickguard, Lady Airabella, and coming in second place in the World Championships in 2013, Airistotle. There were also some first timers giving it their best despite knowing the crowd was likely laughing at them and not with them. There ended up being a tie for first place after the Round 1 between Airistotle and Ricky Stinkfingers, the latter playing up his character for laughs rather than shreds, and pulling it off quite well. In the end, there was a three-way tie for first place, which worked out perfectly as the top three scorers at the end of the night advance on to the next major qualifying round. And with each performance deserving of great scores, the top three were (drum roll): Airistotle, Ricky Stinkfingers and Mathromancer (who was also celebrating his birthday).
 
Catch the next qualifying round at Arlene’s Grocery on May 24, and if you think you have airness within you, consider competing as well!
 
Photos by Alix Piorun.