The crowd that filled nearly every seat in the Orpheum Stage Door for its final screening on the first night of the festival was young and boisterous, eager to see one of the most-fun-looking films of the weekend. This was Air Guitar Nation, a hilarious documentary following the journeys of two Americans bringing their imaginary axes to the world stage.
More specifically, the movie details the competition between David "C-Diddy" Jung and Dan "BjÃrn TÃroque" Crane as they emerge from nowhere as in the first-ever set of air guitar competitions in the U.S. Over the course of months, they ascend to the pinnacle of global air guitardom, eventually competing against the best of the best from Norway, Belgium, Australia and other nations where the air is raucous.
Air Guitar Nation was at its most electrifying during the three "concert" segment that dominated the documentary, from the way-exceeding expectations regionals in New York to the gloriously over the top nationals in Los Angeles and finally to the culminating world championships in the north of Finland.
The crowd in the Stage Door was, of course, very engaged, laughing and cheering through nearly the entirety of the film, as fan favorite C-Diddy staked his claim to air guitar goddom.
It made me think of This is Spinal Tap as experienced in some sort of Mirror Universe with C-Diddy's Hello Kitty breastplate serving as the triumphant response to Rob Reiner's Stonehenge. Rather than a fake documentary lampooning a very real phenomenon, though, Air Guitar Nation director Alexandra Lipsitz created a real documentary -- albeit one sailing in an ocean of viscous irony -- telling the story of this class-of-their-own mock "rock stars" convincingly performing with fake instruments.
The applause at the end of the movie was, no surprises here, monster.
There's even one of these competitions coming soon to Madison. The UW students at WSUM have organized an air guitar contest as a fundraiser for the 2007 edition of Party in the Park. Aside from the live music provided by Cribshitter, arms will windmill and heads will bang at the High Noon Saloon next Tuesday, Apr. 17, when the two round competition will determine who is the heir of air in Madison.