The Lightning Rod Strikes Northbridge

The Reverend Billie Damage rocks out at the Deen
[The Reverend Billie Damage rocks out at the WA Air Guitar Championships…]

Last Friday night, I was a guest judge of the W.A. Air Guitar Championships.

Yes, that’s right. As unlikely as it might seem, your mild-mannered, glasses-wearing, gangly reporter was flown across the continent to adjudicate the finest air guitarists on the west-coast.
Continue reading “The Lightning Rod Strikes Northbridge”

Air Guitar Tips

[C-Diddy wows em with his air guitar prowess…The original video is posted here.]

Yesterday I was visiting the museum where I occasionally work, conducting children’s art workshops. Lately I only make rare appearances, mainly due to the fact that I’ve been galavanting around the country with this Bon Scott business. But people in offices love a bit of news from the outside world, so I found myself chatting over the cubicles about Bon and his fans, enthusing about some incredible AC/DC performances I’ve seen on YouTube lately, and crowing about my new career as an air guitar judge.

Being an “open plan” office, people inevitably overhear (and eavesdrop on) each other. So while I was raving to my colleague Nicky about all this stuff, from across the room Penny the conservator pricked up her ears. “WHAAAT!?” she screamed. Or, would have screamed, except it’s an open plan office, so she kind of hush-screamed, and the look of intensity in her face made up for the lack of volume. She couldn’t believe I had landed this plum gig with zero experience. It was so unfair.

Penny told me a story about going to see Magic Dirt play at the Annandale once. She and another female friend air-guitared so energetically that a small circle of fans began to gather around to watch the spectacle, ignoring the band on stage. Then she beckoned me over to her desk, and clicked onto YouTube so that I might witness the greatness of the video above, featuring world-reknowned air-guitarist C-Diddy. And lo, I was indeed impressed.

“Nobody in Western Australia will come close to C-Diddy,” she said. “But as a judge, it’s important to know the benchmark of excellence.”

Being the first air-guitar enthusiast to come into my life, Penny wasted no time in presenting me with some criteria for judging the competition:

1. It’s not about realism: Get over the idea that air guitarists have to know how to play a real guitar, or hit the “real” notes as if playing. It’s a performance, and has to be judged on that basis, first and foremost. On the other hand, note how C-Diddy creates the illusion he is actually holding an instrument. A kind of Marcel Marceau mime skill. Top marks.

2. Costumes are very important, perfect bodies less so. Note C-Diddy’s whacky open shirt and Hello Kitty chest piece, eclipsing his chubby belly.

3. Engagement with the audience: note that C-Diddy acknowledges his audience, and calls for them to participate in shouting out the chorus.

4. Women who participate get extra points. Since there are not many of them.

5. Use of the overbite while strumming, in order to convey the idea of intensity of concentration loses marks, according to Penny. Too contrived. Come up with something interesting to do with your facial expression.

6. Bonus points if you bring your own air-roadies or air-groupies, anything original of this sort…

Thanks Penny. I hope this blog post doesn’t result in an office-wide ban on YouTube. Or my blog.

Mr Know-it-All

air guitar championships

Katie, the hard-working media expert from the Fremantle Arts Centre, has somehow managed to convince the WA Chapter of the Air-Guitar Championships that I would be a good celebrity judge for their state final in a couple of weeks.

The winner, as judged by me (and some other minor experts) will be heading to Darwin to compete in “The Nationals”. Hence their slogan: “It’s a long way to the TOP (END) if you wanna rock n roll” (don’t blame me, I didn’t come up with it).

What’s more, rumour has it that the West’s best vapour-strummer will be invited to perform his (or her?!) fave AC/DC song at the launch of the Bon Scott Project in May!

Stay tuned for all the finer details. And, ahem…can anybody point me towards some criteria for good air-guitar method?

Bon and Me

Everyone has a Bon Scott story.

I just got back from overseas, and my friends ask “so what are you up to now that you’re back?” When I reply, “I’m working on a project about Bon Scott, you know, that guy from AC/DC”, there is generally a pause, and either a look of incredulity, or almost immediate raucous laughter. You see, I’m not really the kind of person who you’d think of as an enthusiast for these things. My interests tend to be a bit bookish. I have a tendency to over-intellectualise, which fits more with an interest in obscure corners of conceptual art history, than Aussie rock legends. So it’s all very amusing, isn’t it?

The next thing that happens is that, once my so-called friends have gotten over their ridiculing of my rock credentials, they inevitably launch into their own stories about AC/DC. Here’s one by Diego, who is describing a scene from a small town outside of Turin, in the north of Italy:

When was it? Oh damn, I was driving around, so I must have had a licence, so that makes me 18…so I suppose it must have been about 1988 then. I was driving around with all my friends, and someone had this tape, I can’t remember where it came from, did my sister give it to me? Anyway, we put it on and it was wow! You know [does air guitar and sings the riff “na, na na, na na….di-di-di-di-du-do”] and we were really into it but we had no idea who it was, we figured it must have been Rod Stewart or something. It wasn’t until a long time after that someone told me it was AC/DC. You know, we knew nothing about that stuff, but it were were really into that guitar bit.

The funny thing is, I’m not even convinced that the famous riff Diego sings while telling this story is an AC/DC song. But who knows? Certainly not me. There are so many famous guitar riffs. They’re like pithy quotes from Shakespeare: we all recognise them, but we can’t always remember where they came from.

Diego asks a few other questions which betray his enthusiastic but hazy grasp on AC/DC-ology:

“Wasn’t Bon the one who wore the funny hat?”
“No”, Keg says, “that was Angus, and it was a school uniform.”
Diego: “Oh, I thought they all had school uniforms”…

-but never mind that, he immediately picks up his air guitar and launches into song, in his Italo-Aussie accent: “ROCK-AND-ROLL-MAKES-NOISE-POLL-U-SHUNN!!”

Immediately I find myself correcting this in my own head. It should be “rock and roll AIN’T noise pollution!” (The meaning is quite specific, although Diego’s misreading is, I must admit, an interesting slip). (Read the full lyrics here.)

And then it dawns on me that after only a couple of days into my career as a fan (which consists, thus far, of the paltry reading of the first half of Bon Scott’s biography, and listening to one single album), it’s already started: I’m becoming an AC/DC nerd. Mothers of Australia, lock up your daughters. I’m about to bore them to tears.

*post script: according to further research, the riff Diego was singing was an AC/DC track. Click here to listen to Diego himself rendering the riff in all its glory…