Zac Monro, London, performs at the 7th Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, north Finland. (AP Photo/LEHTIKUVA/Jarmo Kontiainen)
Who is the world’s best on air guitar?
September 08, 2015
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Who can play the wildest on an instrument that no one can see? A record 30 air guitarists from a dozen countries jammed on a stage in northern Finland to answer just that question.
The 20th Air Guitar World Championships included 30 "dark horses", or competitors, hoping to advance to the final. They joined seven national champions who automatically qualified.
The competition was started as a joke by an Oulo musician. It added to the small Nordic nation's reputation as an inventor of offbeat summer events. There's also the "mosquito slapping" and "wife carrying" competitions. Air guitar has gradually spread worldwide. National events are held annually in several countries.
The 2002 champion, London architect Zac Monro, returned after a break of 13 years. He sought to rekindle that "special flame that breaks the mundane." But he admitted he no longer felt a need to win.
"It's a great crowd and it's just good to be here among all these people who enjoy doing this crazy thing," said Munro. The air guitarist goes by the stage name "The Magnet." All the same, he said, he'd like to be in the final "instead of just watching."
Germany's national champion is Sabrina "Lady Liberty" Schramm from Munich. She made the final. But she was still nervous. She wrung her hands as she declared she "yearns to win." She caught the competition bug when she finished ninth in Oulu in 2014.
"I was brought up on rock music. I just love it," she said. "When I saw a local air guitar competition in my home town, I thought that's the most crazy thing you can do. So I just had to do it."
Schramm faced tough competition from Nanami "Seven Seas" Nagura from Japan, who won last year at the age of 18. The current U.S. champion is New Yorker Matt "Airistotle" Burns.
Oulu's mayor was enthusiastic. He described the event as "creative craziness." It has become part of the image of Finland's northernmost city. Oulu is a high-tech hub. It provided a large workforce for Nokia before it sold its ailing smartphone division to Microsoft.
"It plays a vital role in our dynamic society and our ecosystem. It's a city of young people with an average age of 37, which needs this kind of innovative thinking," Matti Pennanen said. "We want to keep it going for as long as possible."
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What is the craziest thing about an air guitar competition?
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