You are viewing an archived version of Don’t forget to go back to the future.

Something in the Air

09 June 2008
Monday, 8:13 AM

I like adjectives that are both crystal clear and totally vague. For example, you may be coming off a “good” weekend just like I am, but it’s entirely possible that the “good” elements of our respective weekends were completely different. Perhaps you were served an amazing slice of peach cobbler, or your blind date turned out to be George Clooney, or you finally disposed of some incriminating evidence that’s been haunting you for years. But you definitely weren’t crowned the Philadelphia regional champ of the US Air Guitar Championships. Nope, that was all me.

Just one day after I returned from a full month of traveling, Leah pointed out a newspaper ad for the air guitar competition taking place four days later at the TLA. She immediately bit her tongue as we both flashed back to last fall’s viewing of Air Guitar Nation, which had caused me to remark, “These guys are so lame. I could do this so much better.” That was a defining moment for us, one of a few simple statements I’ve made over the past few years that have given Leah good reason to question her commitment to me.

Within seconds, I was registered and ready to compete. A few days later, my alter-ego, Windhammer, stormed the TLA stage amidst thirteen fierce competitors in front of about three or four hundred screaming (and heckling) fans. Here’s how the competition works:

  1. Each contestant does a freestyle performance to a sixty-second edit of the song of their choice. (Mine was the mighty Lost Horizon’s “Sworn in the Metal Wind.”)
  2. The top five scorers from the first round compete in a compulsory round, doing an improvised performance to a surprise song. (In this case, I shamefully failed to recognize Sweet’s “Set Me Free.”)
  3. The contestant with the highest combined score wins, and is sent to San Francisco to compete in the national finals on August 8th.

The compulsory round left me tied for first place with a slender lad by the name of Airistotle. Having proven his mettle by coming this far, he may have made the tie-breaker round a nail-biter for me had the second surprise song not been Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild.” From its first two tentative notes, I knew the contest was over. There’s a great writeup of the whole show on the US Air Guitar blog, and my winning performance is immortalized on YouTube.

I expected the competition to be a lot of fun. What I didn’t expect was for it to make me re-evaluate the position from which I enjoy music. Rock and roll—and especially heavy metal—was my first love, and I never got over it. When a twelve-year-old kid is stirred by something like that, he’s responding as much to its performers’ inherent posturing as he is to the music itself. The mythologies they create for themselves power the music just as much as the skill, the gear, or the drugs, if not more. For years, I felt guilty about the fact that I was a music-lover that had never bothered to become a musician. It didn’t occur to me that the attitude I had adopted from the music was an equally valid musical expression of its own kind.

Parading around on that stage in front of all those people, playing an invisible instrument without a (pardon the pun) shred of self-consciousness, I came to realize that I wasn’t even thinking about what I was doing. It was simply what came naturally, what the music caused to be as it passed through me. Is it silly? Sure. Is it stupid? Absolutely not. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, as far as I’m concerned, that’s also a pretty accurate description of rock and roll.

Filed under: Music, Personal, Philadelphia

Comments Closed (52)

1. Greg Hoy says…  |  09 June 2008 / 8:30 AM

Speechless. Well done.

2. Elliot Jay Stocks says…  |  09 June 2008 / 8:37 AM

Very well done, Rob.

Now, more importantly, are you wearing crotchless trousers in that video?!?

4. Jody says…  |  09 June 2008 / 9:08 AM

Rock the F on!

5. Ethan says…  |  09 June 2008 / 9:12 AM

All. Hail. Windhammer.

6. Jason says…  |  09 June 2008 / 9:14 AM

Well done, indeed. Congrats! If I'm ever in another band, you'll have to do a guest appearance.

7. Jason Beaird says…  |  09 June 2008 / 9:30 AM

Wow! Rob must be short for Robot, cause you are 100% metal, my friend. Congrats and great video.

8. Dan Mall says…  |  09 June 2008 / 10:19 AM

Curse Virgnia for calling me away from Philly this weekend.

Adding this to the top of the list of reasons why Rob is my (guitar?) hero.

Sorry; that wasn't punny.

Oh boy.

9. Alex Giron says…  |  09 June 2008 / 10:27 AM

Much respect to you! that was awesome.

10. Michael says…  |  09 June 2008 / 10:41 AM

Face melted.

11. Terry Tolleson says…  |  09 June 2008 / 11:04 AM

That's an impressive amount of awesome you had on display there. Well played.

12. Liz Danzico says…  |  09 June 2008 / 11:30 AM

Oh my. (In a good way.)


13. Dave S. says…  |  09 June 2008 / 11:49 AM

The leather chaps and glasses combo? Killer.

14. liz says…  |  09 June 2008 / 11:51 AM

That is wicked! Honored to know you, Sir Champion.

15. Geert Leyseele says…  |  09 June 2008 / 12:59 PM

Rob, my man you have been on a roll lately with the awesome road trip coverage and now this. Legendary performance!

16. Tiffehr says…  |  09 June 2008 / 4:58 PM

I'd like to think that someday air-guitar historians will look back on the remarkable Flickr collection of you playing Guitar Hero at SXSW as documentation of the formative phase of your legendary stage presence.

17. Ian says…  |  09 June 2008 / 5:26 PM

Oh, fuck yes, Windhammer– chaps! Congratulations, Your Highness.

18. Andy Stratton says…  |  09 June 2008 / 6:23 PM

Rob, you consistently make me want to hang out with/be near/skin you.

You r0k. Championship well earned.

19. laura says…  |  09 June 2008 / 6:54 PM

chaps. after that I am speechless.

20. John Riviello says…  |  09 June 2008 / 7:23 PM

Brilliant performance, oh mighty Windhammer. That video is awesome.

21. P. Dalkner says…  |  09 June 2008 / 7:37 PM

I still think you deserved a score of 6.66.

22. Keith says…  |  09 June 2008 / 8:26 PM

All hail the mighty Windhammer! RAWK!

23. brian warren says…  |  10 June 2008 / 1:04 AM

Mighty mighty performance Rob. You WERE the music. Brilliant!

24. Ian Muir says…  |  10 June 2008 / 1:26 AM

"So short and thick defeated tall and lanky in the City of Brotherly Love"

Windhammer, thanks for representing the short and bearded well. If only today's metal guitarists had half the stage presence you do.

25. cole says…  |  10 June 2008 / 4:57 AM

nice chaps!

26. Eric Meyer says…  |  10 June 2008 / 8:35 AM


27. Philip Renich says…  |  10 June 2008 / 9:52 AM

Ah! I've been looking everywhere for a left-handed air guiar, where'd you pick yours up?? ;) The chaps are great. nice video!

28. Rob Weychert says…  |  10 June 2008 / 10:30 AM

Y’all are too kind. I’m really glad everyone enjoyed the video!

Philip: For some reason, air guitar is actually the only thing I do left-handed. Attempts to play the real guitar, along with everything else, requires a predominant right hand. Luckily, I was able to find a left-handed air guitar the very first time I looked for one.

29. Scott says…  |  10 June 2008 / 12:06 PM

Kick ass Rob! After watching you I now need to question my commitment to actually being able to play an instrument or two. Good luck at the finals!

30. Kevin M. Hoffman says…  |  10 June 2008 / 12:44 PM

Your performance just broke my neck. Oh wait, it was already broken. It just broke it more.

31. Scott Nellé says…  |  10 June 2008 / 1:07 PM

Epic. Truly Epic.

32. mb says…  |  10 June 2008 / 2:05 PM


33. Andrew says…  |  10 June 2008 / 3:10 PM

Hellzyeah! Windhammer rocks!

34. Katrina says…  |  10 June 2008 / 3:58 PM

OMG! Rob - I am so sad I missed this! I would have pissed myself seeing you play Lost Horizon (the best choice of song ever)! Congratulations!

35. hot lixx hulahan says…  |  10 June 2008 / 4:26 PM

Congratulations and best of luck transitioning your act from the city of brotherly love to the city of loving your brothers.

36. TAt says…  |  10 June 2008 / 4:32 PM

I'm begining to think that the chaps are the real reason you won.

37. Erin Kissane says…  |  10 June 2008 / 5:13 PM


Well done, sir. Well done.

38. Juris Rocktor says…  |  10 June 2008 / 10:03 PM


39. Bettie B Goode says…  |  11 June 2008 / 12:26 AM

Not only are you one of the fiercest face melters to grace the stage, you're one of the most eloquent. Nothing sums up air guitar better than your words above. Air Guitar is lucky to have you. Rock on.

40. Ryan Brill says…  |  11 June 2008 / 8:35 AM

You, sir, are a god amongst mere men.

41. pdobry says…  |  11 June 2008 / 6:21 PM

I'm with Bettie on this one. never would I have thought that I could be moved by prose on air guitar. But I would have never thought that I would scream myself hoarse at an air guitar show. Way to shred my face off.

42. Patrick Haney says…  |  12 June 2008 / 12:02 PM

Whether it was the way you played to the crowd, or just the leather chaps, that was the finest air guitar performance I have ever laid my eyes upon. Be one with the metal, Windhammer, and rock on.

43. Dan Rubin says…  |  12 June 2008 / 12:36 PM

Dude. Chaps + Beard + Air Guitar = Immortal.

44. David Sleight says…  |  12 June 2008 / 2:12 PM

This is just all levels of awesome.

45. Ellen says…  |  13 June 2008 / 7:08 PM

You rock my world...I'm seriously going to try to go to California for this - please tell me how to do so!!!

46. pixeldiva says…  |  17 June 2008 / 7:01 AM

That was truly epic.

Rock on, Sir Windhammer. Rock on.

47. Catherine says…  |  19 June 2008 / 9:42 PM

Rob, did you ever know that you're my hero?

48. Sue Fitz says…  |  23 June 2008 / 10:50 AM


ps do you do weddings?

49. Rob Weychert says…  |  23 June 2008 / 11:01 AM

Well. There’s been quite a bit more hullabaloo over this thing than I expected. Thank you, one and all. Your support will have no small effect on whatever happens at the national finals in August!

50. Simmy says…  |  24 June 2008 / 4:00 PM

Windhammer, if I had tits, I would ask you to sign them as well.

51. Sam Hardacre says…  |  25 June 2008 / 8:55 AM

That. Is. Awesome!

Good luck in August!

52. Rob McK. says…  |  30 June 2008 / 10:26 PM

You are, and always shall be...the man!
Rock on!

Copyright © 2002–2008 Rob Weychert  |  Hosted by DreamHost  |  Syndication