“I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. One of my best memories is listening to Santana’s ‘She’s Not There.’ I was a one-man band. I was playing guitar with my tennis racket, playing drums with — and this sounds really stupid — with a chopstick sticking out of my butt and kicking like this, and my mom is yelling, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ ”

The five finalists would compete against national champion and twice national runner-up Therocknessfuckingmonster — L.A.’s Fatima Hoang.

Hoang, a star in the air-guitar community, was here to crush the locals so he could capture a spot in the nationals after losing in L.A. the night before. Hoang says he’s hanging up his air guitar and retiring after this tour.

Tonight’s winner would be decided by the ability to air to Skid Row’s hair-metal anthem “Youth Gone Wild.” Edited down from more than three minutes, the 60-second version had everything for an air guitarist — guitar breaks, drum fills, and a deafening chorus.

The five novices were no contest for Therocknessfuckingmonster’s experience and air versatility. A surprised Mary Jane took second and celebrated backstage by handing out free passes to Little Darlings. Gobo was proud to place third after his disappointing showing in San Francisco. Yoko Airo grabbed fourth and J-Prime came in fifth, with both locals pleased with their performances.

There wasn’t much time for congratulations — Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” began pouring out of the speakers, calling the evening’s air guitarists to the stage for an all-star jam.


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