Fri, Nov 12, 2004 - Page 15 News List

Be a hit: Blow hot air and thrash imaginary guitars

By Max Woodworth  /  STAFF REPORTER

This year's finalist and last year's winner David ``C-Diddy'' Jnng performs during the 9th Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland.

PHOTO: EPA

For everyone who's ever shredded through Purple Haze in the shower or let their eyes roll back while nailing the solo in Stairway to Heaven, now is your chance to bring those acrobatics born of unfulfilled pop-idol fantasies to the stage in Taiwan's first air guitar competition.

The contest is being organized by Huang Wan-ting (黃晼婷), formerly of the girl punk band Ladybug, now a guitarist in Tin Pan Alley and a member of the electronica outfit Varo. The event is scheduled for Dec. 4 and registration, which is free, is now ongoing. Huang recommended that would-be contestants sign up soon, because the venue, Shida Road's Underworld, has a limited capacity. With the inevitable crunch of onlookers and contestants, space will be at a high premium.

In a break from the hallowed air guitar tradition, Huang's contest has been dubbed an "air band" competition, allowing for groups of up to five people to play whatever assorted instruments their fantasy band plays -- guitar, vocals, bass, accordion, piano, pipa, vibraphone, theramin, anything goes. The rocking-est band will go home with a bundle of Varo CDs and assorted paraphernalia.

But, perhaps most importantly, all contestants will leave having finally felt the warm glow of the stage lights and with the cheers from adoring fans echoing in their ears -- and who knows, maybe even a groupie.

As silly as it sounds, air guitar is a dead-serious matter in some places around the world -- in particular in Oulu, Finland, which plays host to the annual Air Guitar World Championships, where the prizes include real guitars, like American Stratocasters and pricey Flying Finns, as well as high-end equipment.

Much more than a bitter, tooth-and-nail competition between rockers, the world championships, according to its founder Pasi Pirttiaho, is a moment to promote world peace. His famous credo is that if everyone in the universe dropped what they were doing and picked up an air guitar at the same time, all wars would end and all bad things would disappear.

Despite the global profile of the event, Huang had never heard of the Air Guitar World Championships when it was mentioned to her. Though that might suggest that air guitar is a new concept to Taiwan and that competition among neophytes maybe won't be particularly fierce, extensive KTV diva experience could be an ace up the sleeve for a lot of entrants. That's another reason, Huang said, that it's important to sign up now, so that bands can start rehearsing for the final event.

To sign up, send an e-mail with the name of your band and all the entrants to sonicwanting@yahoo.com. The Underworld is located at B1, 45, Shida Rd, Taipei (台北市師大路45號B1).

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