Staten Island Man Defends Title, Pop-Punk In Air Guitar World Championship: Gothamist


Matt “Airistotle” Burns during last year’s championship (YouTube)

For the second straight year, Matt “Airistotle” Burns has proved himself as the world’s premiere talent in pretending to play the guitar without actually playing the guitar.

On Friday, the 28-year-old from Staten Island successfully defended his title during the annual Air Guitar World Championship held in Oulu, Finland. Now in its 22nd year, the competition brings together 15 of the world’s best strummers of invisible six-strings, for an “event concept of entertainment and showmanship with a flavour of rock parody.”

In addition to his two world championships, Burns has also won three U.S. championships, and has finished in second place in three other world finals.

“When I first started, everybody was doing glam rock or metal,” Burns told the Post following last year’s victory. “I based my whole character around a younger guy playing pop punk.”

After performing Green Day and NoFX songs in contests past, Burns captured the top spot this year with Me First and The Gimme Gimme’s adrenalized version of “I Will Survive”. The song helped him beat out runners-up Patrick “Ehrwolf” Culek of Germany and Alexander “The Jinja Assassin” of Australia. Japan’s 15-year-old Show-Show finished third.

In addition to taking home a trophy, Burns also won a real guitar, custom-built by a Finnish luthier—an instrument he admits he is “not very good at all.”

As for his creative process, Burns told NPR that he does most of his practicing in the very real venue of the New York City subway. “The train platforms kind of feel like a stage,” Burns said. “So I kind of pretend that I’m on the world stage there, and that’s when I kind of scale up all my moves.”

Check out some of the air-champion’s past performances below:



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