Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Air guitar competition: Music Seen at SPACE Gallery, April 28, 2007

Published in the Portland Phoenix; written jointly with Sonya Tomlinson

ST For those wondering how the Air Guitar competition went down — the event was beyond sold out. Even when the space available for the film portion came down to standing room only the audience did not hesitate to express their enthusiasm. Despite the close quarters, the laughing, cheering, and clapping during the movie mimicked what would take place in a living room full of your closest friends.

JI In fact, some of the movie’s scenes — and the live post-movie competition — might have been best done in a living room, rather than on a stage or in front of a camera. But with a movie like Air Guitar Nation, if you can’t react to the events and commentary on the screen, there’s fairly little point in seeing it at all. Air guitar is as much about the art of performing as it is about the act of spectating.

ST Let’s get back to that live competition part. There were nine contestants for the first-ever Portland Air Guitar competition. I believe you were in the front of the crowd, right? Something about your wife being sprayed with fake blood by one of the competitors?

JI Yeah, there were supposed to be 12, but a few backed out and a few signed up on the spot, motivated by the movie, no doubt. Anyway, one of them — HammerSmash — had a cup of fake blood, poured it all over himself and drank it, and then tossed it into the crowd. He was one of the few who appeared to have actually rehearsed, and he ended up in the final three. Sadly, as the youngest contestant in the finals, he appeared to be less familiar with the compulsory song — the contestants had chosen their own songs for the first round — and ended up finishing third. That compulsory song, Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me” (from 1986’s Look What the Cat Dragged In, if you must know) was a brilliant choice on the part of the organizers, and played right into the hands of the woman who stole the show — McNallica. She’ll be competing in Boston sometime soon, and we’ll keep you posted on that.

ST And we can’t fail to mention Free Bird, who came in second. Even his fans dressed up to support him. If you missed out, be sure to catch the local action at And you can catch the film, Air Guitar Nation, at the Movies on Exchange May 2-8.

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