Who is the world’s best on air guitar?
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.
An Oulo musician started the competition as a joke. It added to the small Nordic nation's reputation as an inventor of offbeat summer events such as the "mosquito slapping" and "wife carrying" competitions. It 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," although 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, who 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, Sabrina "Lady Liberty" Schramm from Munich, made the final, but she was still nervous, wringing 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, describing the event as "creative craziness," which 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."
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What is the craziest thing about an air guitar competition?
Write your answers in the comments section below