Saturday, May 19, 2007

Air Guitar Nation

I confess: I am a closet air guitarist, although I prefer my air guitar playing in the car as I drive. I have been known to lay down some serious air riffs on the steering wheel of my car as I barrel down a highway or am stopped at a city traffic light (the latter is somewhat embarrassing if I’m in the midst of serious “playing”!). There’s something incredibly freeing and participatory in playing air as a song booms from the hi-fi, the world passing by the car window meaningless and insignificant. If this sounds familiar, the hilarious documentary Air Guitar Nation is for you.

When I reviewed The Wind That Shakes the Barley a few weeks ago I put out the bold claim I doubt I see a film I like more the rest of the year. Can I say the same thing about Air Guitar Nation regarding documentaries? I would like to see a documentary I liked more but it’s going to have to be really good as Air Guitar Nation might be one of the funnier, more appealing music documentaries I’ve seen in a long time. That’s really saying something as there have been a storm of quality rock docs the past few years.


Air Guitar Nation is set in 2003 as a group of New Yorkers organize a U.S. Air Guitar Championship competition with the winner going to Finland to represent the USA versus the best air guitarists in the world. This may seem silly and a big time waster but these people, who take on alter egos like Bjorn Turoque, Krye Tuff, Nikki Tits, Roxxy McShaggy and Snatchface, are deadly serious. The competitors talk about the importance of the act and the liberating qualities of getting on stage and just letting go. There is humor but also an appreciation for the variety of styles and techniques (even nude air guitar action!) as an emerging art form.

While crowning the US Champion, a rivalry between Bjorn Turoque and C-Diddy is established. The pair are vastly different in style. Bjorn prefers the style of an energetic pogo with great hand/finger work. C-Diddy taps into his “Asian-rage” while wearing a robe, some kind of Hello Kitty belt strapped across his chest and just shreds the fire out of maniacal solos. C-Diddy is an air guitar animal who leaves the crowds stunned at his prowess much to the surprised, but happy, bafflement of his slightly embarrassed Asian parents.


Who will win the U.S. Championship and represent the country at the World Championships? How will the first ever American do in the competition when faced with some hardcore Fins and other Europeans who take air guitar playing deadly serious (and who belief the act of “airness” will lead to world peace)? Air Guitar Nation will answer these questions while providing much hilarity, a great soundtrack of rock and roll classics that I know you’ve played along with at least once in your life.


Had you seen me leaving the Circle parking lot after the film—you’d have seen me doing unreal air solos while playing along to Boston’s first album—one of the classic records for attaining “airness”. I wasn’t in front of 4,000 screaming Europeans or a crowd of anyone but my intentions were pure. I like to think by playing along with Tom Scholz, I was doing my part to bringing just a little more peace to the world. All thanks to air guitar playing.

3 comments:

Replicant said...

I should also confess my love for playing air synthesizer!

Guy Gadbois said...

Have you seen the air guitar from this episode of Scrubs?

And although your air synth may rock, the real life keyboarding of Getty Lee still sucks.

Replicant said...

Didn't I mention that Boston is classic for air guitar action?

Don't knock "Tom Sawyer" as that's about as good as it gets for synthesizer solos in pop music from that era.