KANSAS CITY, MO — Thursday night some 32 of the country’s second-best air guitarists “came out” to Missie B’s for one last shot at gaining entry to the National Finals. They came by official invite only and on their own dime knowing that only five would be allowed to advance. Yet nearly every performance was of National caliber. And given the 2,000 person capacity of tonight’s Finals, the crowd may well exceed National caliber as well.
2008 World AIr Guitar Champion HOT LIXX HULAHAN (Craig Billmeier) hosted the event with the highbrow humor of a guy who works a comedy club 6 days a week and the body of a pudgy, blossoming girl scout. If the contestant ever faltered – and they didn’t – Hot Lixx was there to pick up the slack.
Hands down, Thursday’s best performance was SLAM CABBAGE’S second round offering. Dressed as Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman, his first round was a metal rendition of the internet classic Trololo and for his second round Cabbage launched himself from the stage to a drink-ledge near the judges. His aim may have been to eventually make it all the way to the judges’ station, but before long a thousand hands – as if from the depths of hell itself – the crowd dragged him down into an involuntary crowd surf. Cabbage would ride that wave all the way to Saturday’s Nationals.
But hands down, Thursday’s best performance was THE MARQUIS (Rob Messel), an early pick this season for a Nationals spot who just missed the cut at whatever Semifinal he competed in where a judge probably fucked him over. At a certain point he realized there were no stage monitors at the venue, so Maqruis improvised and used Southwest Semifinal champion KINGSLAYER’S (Paige King) stand-in, JAQUE MESSY, instead.
Seriously, hands down Thursday’s best performance was OPERATION ROCKAPUSSY (as Rockupine) and ROCKUPINE (as Operation Rockapussy), who pulled a classic Sister-Sister move by competing as the other. An 70s/80s/90s trope that never gets old until the year two thousand.
For real this time, Thursday’s best performance was IRON DRAGON’S (Justin Fox) “cape nerd” reveal. As he fidgeted behind his back, the crowd braced itself for what it assumed would be some sort of confetti cannon or mustard-and-baby-powder explosion; instead, what the crowd got was a little more cape.
For serious, Thursday’s best performance was G. TSO MONEY (Del Kun-Chen), who will be representing the great country of Taiwan on the World Stage in two weeks; or else it was CANADIAN BACON (Camille Barichello), whose last-minute dark horse invite was spirited, colorful, smoked-ham, and all around pretty great, eh; or else it was Bacon’s worse half, CAPT. AIRHAB (Matt LeBel), or MORTIMAIR SNERD (Jason Cheung) or CSR (Matt Feldstein) or any one of the hundred or so local KC folks who wowed their home crowd with enough licks to get to the tootsie roll center of all our hearts . . .
CSR. Photo credit: Pat Paulsen.
– – – pretty much every performance was Nationals-worthy, and celebrity judges NADYA THUNDRESS, IVANNA TUROQUE and current World Champion ERICA MEAN MELINA had their work cut out for them. After Nadya’s halftime birthday celebration – complete with cake, candles, and icing cartoons of bloody, headless bats – the following folks raised to the top of the ranks and will be opening tonight’s National Finals at KC’s Midland Theater:
Peter Stiff Dickens (Colb What’s-his-face)
Thunderball (Nielsen Nacis)
CindAIRella (Beth Olsen)
The Marquis (Rob Messel)