Saturday night at The Viper Room was a flat out party. The audience got 2 shows for the price of one. First a live concert Power Hour, getting them plenty warmed (and boozed) up. Then the LA Qualifier for the US Air Guitar Championships took over, and sucked the air right out of the place!
Ali Spagnola's opening set was a mix of covers to get the crowd fired up. After playing each one for 60 seconds, everyone chanted "OOOOHHHHHHH SHOT!" and took a drink. If you want to make sure your judges are loose and conversational, I can't recommend enough doing this first. The 6 String General, who toured the country opening for Ali and performing as her hype man, even jumped on stage to relive the old days.
After a brief break, the main event began. Hosts 6 String General and The Legendary Pot Roast started things off with a Meatloaf medley. Our judges for the evening were introduced: C-Diddy, the first US air guitar champion and a former world champion as well; opening act Ali Spagnola; and ravishing professional wrestlers (no, not Rick Rude...) Melina Perez and Thea Trinidad.
The crowd got to witness the good, the bad, and the weird (not necessarily in that order). Axl Blows took his time getting to the stage. Spiderman bravely air guitared to song with no guitar. And Axe Redeemer failed to redeem himself for falling over. All got a mixed reaction from the crowd and judges.
Things took a turn for the weird and awesome with Daddy's Smashing Little Pumpkin. The SF veteran was making his first appearance in LA after a hiatus of a couple of years, and he clearly spent that time upping his game. Long time LA competitor Gwarana took the stage next and delivered the best single performance of her career.
You may actually say the crowd got 3 shows tonight, because C-Diddy opened round 2 with his first air guitar performance in a decade! It was special, epic and everything you would hope from from someone of his stature.
When the final scores were tallied, it was Lumb-Air-Jack who chopped down the competition to defend his title, with rookie sensation Brutal Mendoza taking runner up. Both will move on to the Regional Semifinal in San Diego on June 18th.
And so another year of air guitar in Los Angeles is in the books. They swept through the City of Angels like a gust of Santa Ana winds, leaving behind a trail of melted faces, panties and confetti. Until next year folks...