Here’s the night that was the 2015 Canadian Air Guitar Championships
July 25th, 2015 – THE MOD CLUB, Toronto. We had 8 pre-qualified performers, including 5 regional champions from Alberta, Kingston, Ottawa Toronto and Montreal. 13 Dark Horse competitors battled for the remaining 5 spots in the championships. Over 30 Air Guitar performances and over 250 people in attendance, this year’s Air Guitar Championships was an explosion of brand new amazing performers and screaming fans. And as far as ‘Air Guitar for Good’ is concerned: It looks like we’ll get to contribute just over $3500 to our charity, Right To Play. A nice little jump over last year’s donation of $2500.
Let’s take a look at the night through the lens of Culture Snap’s Henry VanderSpek’s camera. Enjoy and be sure to join us again for the 2016 Air Guitar season as we continue to raise joy for our friends, raise funds for our charity, and send amazing competitors to the world championships.
It all started with a show from Alberta’s Banger Bingo to warm up or moisten the crowd…
Ou Host Matty Burns took to the slightly slippery stage and officially kicked off the competition with a group Aireoke number to assorted Canadian rock hits. Joining host Matty Burns: AGC VP Paul ‘PK’ Kingston, judge Joan Smith, judge Kris Bruun, AGC VP Mike ‘House of’ Payne and Tim ‘Glen Airy Glen Rocks’ Evans.
Then we started the Dark Horse competition for the last 5 spots in the Championships. The pool of competitors was deep and the talent level was nothing like we’d ever seen on the Canadian Air Guitar scene.
New comer Jesse ‘Da Loverboy’ Herron went first and amazed the crowd with his Michael Jackson ‘Beat It’ routine, complete with guitar solo and moonwalk.
Katie ‘Bettie Bruiser’ Mactavish rocked it right to Heart’s ‘Crazy on You’ – those tights were a find.
Steve ‘Rebel Yell’ Verzyden was a first time competitor to Air Guitar, but no novice to competitive sport. He’s the captain of the Aussie Rules Football squad The Rebels. Catch their next game on RogersTV. He rocked out to Gaslight Anthem.
Mark ‘Whiskey Pockets’ Slater was a new participant at the Toronto Championships. He showed that persistence pays off. He entered again as a Dark Horse for the Nationals and made it through to the Championship Round for a chance at the title.
Mr. Bob – the eldest active Ari Guitarist in history, totally took his game up a notch and went from Dark Horse to Championship round with a hip gyrating, Elvis track – Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.
Previously known as ‘The Playa’, BJ Jeroy underwent a transformation to become ‘THE PRAYA’ and to the audible boos of the audience totally killed a CREED song – ‘With Arms Wide Open’. By the end – the audience asked for forgiveness.
Morgan ‘SPITS’ Joy provided us with the most artistic and lauded performances of the night – using part puppet she rocked out to ‘Barracuda’ by Heart. She impressed enough to get the highest scores in the Dark Horse round and enter the Championship round.
After the Dark Horse round – SPITS, DAZ, Da Loverboy, Mr. Bob, and Whiskey Pockets scored the highest and made their way into the Championships Round. The scores from this round will be combined with scores from the Compulsory Round to find the winner of the competition.
This is when shit got a little crazy and the vibe went from all happy and friendly and got a little serious. It’s Air Guitar, people… but we appreciate your commitment to the craft. What was to transpire next was some of the most intense Air Guitar that Canada has ever witnessed. Hold on to your socks.
First up again was Da Loverboy. He had totally transformed, new outfit and new moves. He kicked to off with a front flip that missed slightly, but that didn’t stop him for doing a handstand and moving like a man possessed. He knew he needed to set the bar high to assure himself a spot in the Compulsory round. He was rewarded with exceptional scores and would move on.
Then came Toronto’s 2nd place finisher David ‘Kit AIR-ington’ Finkelstein who needs to be credited with never breaking character on stage… not once. It was pretty impressive how he involved the story of Jon Snow into his performance complete with Air Guitar swipes and thrusts as if wielding a sword. He was rewarded with solid 5.8s across the table. He was one of top performers of the night and made it to the Compulsory Round.
Next up… our Montreal champ – Helene ‘HEY!len’ Laurin. She re-interpreted Motley Crue’s ‘Dr. Feelgood’ in a medical gown and then later revealed a kick-ass rock-modified nurse’s outfit. Her creativity and presentation earned her some top scores and landed her a spot in the Compulsory Round.
Ottawa’s champ – Jason ‘Thrust’ McNeely was another bold performancer as he walked on stage with a real guitar. And after shaking his head, he takes it and SMASHES to splinters all over the stage and the audience. He then resurrects another guitar (from air, of course) and rolls through a high-energy beer fuelled song by Aussie rockers Airbourne. He grabs a beer at a drum section of the song and then, to the beat, SMASHES the beer to his head, which explodes and showers the audience and himself with beer. It was pretty insane. He got 5.8s, 5.9s and a 6.0.
Ari ‘Red Thor’ Hunter then leapt into action. And to his defence, we should have waited for the beer from THRUST to be adequately cleaned up. The stage surface was still somewhat damp and ended up causing the normally lofty Red Thor to have to tread more carefully. He still managed great scores but didn’t place in the Compulsory Round. As all good Vikings await their Valhalla, we’ll have to bid our adieu to Red Thor, at least until we convince him otherwise, since he’ll be stepping down from Air Guitar competition next year. Red Thor is a fan favourite and will be truly missed. We thank him.
Michael ‘Von Poutine’ Daniels – originally from Indiana, now a permanent resident in Canada, a veteran of the US Air Guitar circuit, received some of the best scores for his performance and moved on to the Compulsory Round.
Then Morgan ‘SPITS’ Joy came on and totally sent everyone for a whirl. An ‘Airtiste’ of sorts, Morgan totally floored the crowd with her bouffant act that was both inspiring and a little too far off the Air Guitar mark for some of the judges. We’re hoping she comes back to us next year to keep elevating the field of performance.
Danielle ‘Dora The Destroyer’ D’entremont – our Kingston champ. She was a ball of frenetic energy quite possibly fuelled by stars or some trick from her back-pack, can you say ‘back pack’?. She had THE most aggressive track of the night and showed the crowd just how to truly commit to a song. She was a total cheer-leader and booster for all competitors that night.
Leslie ‘MC JOY’ Seiler another Toronto Championships qualifier who started her journey as a Brave Soul a month earlier. She bedazzled her foot cast and totally rocked ‘Walk This Way’ by Aerosmith. Hilarious and huge originality scores.
After all the scores came in, our finalists for the Compulsory Round were: Da Loverboy, THRUST, Von Poutine, Kit AIR-ington, HEY!len, and Hanzel the Manzel. The audience, via ballot, choose Loverboy’s ‘Working for the Weekend’ for our Canadian Content compulsory song.
Then came Carlos ‘Hanzel the Manzel’ Mengual, who thrilled the judges with his home-made wrist mounted fireball shooter. he got the highest scores of the competitors up so far, but would it be enough?
Jesse ‘Da Loverboy’ Herron had to pull out an amazing performance to come close. And so he too took to the audience and struck a pose at the Judges table while too of his friends showered him in beer – what our host Matty Burns called ‘A Steam-Whistle Bukkake’… classy.
After all the insanity, THRUST won by a narrow margin over Hanzel the Manzel. 0.1 points separated the two. Jason ‘THRUST’ McNeely was victorious and will be representing Canada at the 20th year of Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland.
Huge thanks to our sponsors, Steam Whistle Brewery, Panago Pizza, Banger Bingo, Eatertainment, Hogtown Pub and Oysters, Second City and Second City Training Centre, and RightSleeve for our t-shirts.
Panago Pizza increased their donation the week of the championships and added an extra $1000 to the cause. Talk about #randomactsofpizza.
Special thanks go to our volunteers: Ben Birchard, Summer Skilleter, Rebecca Sutherland.
To our Host and Judges: Matty Burns, Adam from 102.1 The Edge, Kat Curtis of Naked News, Joan Smith of Little Foot Long Foot, Suresh John of Mr. D, and finally Kirs Bruun from Orphan Black.
To our competitors: You all put on an amazing show. Come back next year and do it again.
To our Executive: Cat Friday, Amy Blackmore, Cole ‘Johnny Utah’ Manson, Paul PK Kingston and Michael Payne – let’s start planning 2016!
Thanks to the Mod Club for hosting us
Stay tuned for how THRUST fares in Finland!