Jason “Thrust” McNeely is on his way to Finland to represent Canada in the Air Guitar World Championships.
McNeely, a bartender hailing from Ottawa, was crowned the national champion of air shreds and rock kicks at the Canadian Air Guitar Championships on July 25 after a head-banging rendition of Airborne’s “Born to Kill” that saw him smash a real guitar on stage and crush a beer can against his head. “It’s definitely a dangerous competition if you get right into it,” he told CBC, adding he has injured himself every time he has performed.
Although McNeely, 30, originally signed up as a joke, it was the competition’s philanthropic cause (raising money for the non-profit Right to Play, which supports sports programs for disadvantaged children) that pushed him to stay — and rock.
When he arrived to his first round in Ottawa, McNeely felt under-dressed in shorts and a t-shirt against his elaborately outfitted competitors. His lack of costume didn’t deter him, however, and McNeely soon found himself in the nationals in Toronto, where he was crowned the reigning champion.
Now, McNeely is gearing up for the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland. The contest, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, opens with We Will Dub You, a musical comedy, on August 20 and ends with the anticipated World Final on August 21. When asked how he’ll rehearse for the big event, McNeely confessed, “I can air guitar the hell out of a shampoo bottle.”