Playing Air Guitar to Make a Better World

Air guitar is exactly what you think it is — and so much more.

Yes, it’s pretending to play an instrument. But it’s also bringing joy to others through high-energy performances and personal connections. And as silly as it is, it’s actually part of a movement to build peace.

“The whole philosophy behind air guitar is: If you’re holding an air guitar, you can’t be holding a gun,” explains the guy known as “Captain Airhab” — and he’s wearing a shirt that reads, “Make air, not war.”

Video Transcript

Jamie Farnan: Air guitar is was exactly what you think it is: pretending to play an instrument that is not there.

“Danny Tanner Tantrum” plays at the National Air Guitar Finals, 2013.

I like to say that it’s like you graduated from your parents’ basement and now you’re playing on stage in front of a live audience.

“Jim Hatfield” plays at the U.S. Air Guitar Boston, 2015.

Jamie: People always ask, “So, what are they looking for? How do you even win?” We look for three things. The first is technical merit. You don’t have to know the notes you’re playing, but at least make it look like it matches the music. The second is stage presence. And the third is “airness.” And that’s when it becomes less about air guitar and becomes more of an art form in and of itself. Or, as we like to say, “You know when you see it.”

“Link” plays at the U.S. Air Guitar Finals, 2016.

Jamie: I think Vlad DM Whaler said it best — and he said, “If you get mad that you lost at air guitar, that’s when you really lose.”

So some of the air guitar personas that exist out there — let’s see, they typically have some type of a play on words with “air.”

Captain Airhab: I am Captain Airhab. I got the name because I wanted one of the pun names, and I had a captain’s hat, and I wanted an excuse to wear it.

Jamie: As silly as it is, there’s actually a big world peace movement behind it.

Cap’n: So basically the whole philosophy behind air guitar is: If you’re holding an air guitar, you can be holding a gun.

Jamie: It’s definitely this silly thing that brings a lot of wonderful, loving people together, and that’s how I look at life. I mean, why do you want to take life so seriously all the time? I don’t!

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