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February 20, 2013

Up in the ‘air’ with Sponge

Band, contest ‘plowed’ through the crowd

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

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Up in the ‘air’ with Sponge
Lindsey Shaw, of Chesterfield, won the “Plowed” air guitar contest Feb. 9 at the Ritz in Warren.

A crowded venue, a rocking band and an air guitar contest carried the tune the evening of Feb. 9 at the Ritz.

Several local Sponge fans experienced the thrill of rocking out on stage before a music-hungry crowd as they became rock stars — albeit for a few minutes — during an air guitar contest held at the rock haven.

Minutes before Sponge’s late-night set, eight brave souls hopped on stage to noodle along to the band’s ’90s hit “Plowed” in all-out rock ‘n’ roll effort to win a Sponge package and meet the band.

Local musician Dana “Deadly” Forrester of Crud organized the contest.

“We all know a lot of you play in front of the mirror,” Forrester said as the contest got underway. “This is not the time to be afraid.”

Air guitar is a form of movement where the performer pretends to hold a guitar and play it in an exaggerated style to a rock or heavy metal song.

Each contestant was given about 90 seconds of “Plowed” to demonstrate their best imaginary six-string chops. The contest was divided into two groups of three and one group of two.

With frantic fingers and hair flying, Lindsey Shaw was an early favorite and kept up with the song as the crowd cheered. Next to her, Aaron Koper and Patrick Moore put their own spins on the song with Moore dropping his air guitar, grabbing a microphone and singing along, instead.  

Scott Hunter, of Rochester, was another one to watch. When all the air guitar performing ceased, it was down to him and Shaw. The members of Sponge — crouching in a corner of the stage — judged the contest. When it was too close to call, the audience stepped in and a champion was chosen by way of applause.

“I think we have a winner,” Forrester said. “Miss Lindsey.”

“I’d like to thank the Academy,” Shaw, 25, joked as she was determined the champ. The Chesterfield resident said she was “conned” into participating, but decided to be a good sport about it. She is a true Sponge fan and got to meet the rockers right after her victory.

“I’m a little bit taken aback,” she said. “It’s cool. It was fun.”

Koper, 31, got into the spirit of the evening wearing his best rock ensemble: a leather mini-skirt, Beatles T-shirt, fishnets and boots. The Hamtramck resident, who likes “all kinds of music,” is the owner of Graphic Equlizer Productions.

Steven Ponder, who has never sang a karaoke song or been on stage, thought the contest sounded like fun.

“I said, ‘What the heck?’ I drink Cuervo and I get active,” the 49-year-old Clinton Township resident said with a shrug. But he somehow got lost on stage just after the contest started. He ditched his own air guitar chops, made his way over to Sponge and just hung out.

“I think we lost one,” Forrester said. “Steve went down.”

This month’s show marked the launch of Sponge’s national “Plowed Air Guitar Contest.” As the band embarks on a tour, a small number of contestants will be chosen at each venue to put forward their best air guitar moves.

The winner from each show will receive an autographed Sponge prize package. Winners from each tour date will be entered in the National Finals. One winner will be picked at the end of the tour to join Sponge in Las Vegas.

Sponge’s new CD “Stop the Bleeding” is set for release in March. Rock fans, look out for a twisted cover of Jim Croce’s classic “Time In A Bottle.”

Sponge, based in Detroit, first began to soak up the spotlight in 1994, when the band released its first album, “Rotting Piñata,” under the Sony Records umbrella. The CD produced the hits “Plowed” and “Molly (16 Candles),” and the band made it all the way to MTV.

The local music scene was abuzz when the band first broke out of the Motor City and garnered worldwide attention. The song “Plowed” recently hit the big screen in the movie “Chasing Mavericks” starring Gerard Butler.

Through the years, the band’s lineup changed, with singer Vinnie Dombroski the band’s only remaining founding member. Drummer Billy Adams, guitarist Andy Patalan, Tim Patalan on bass and Kyle Neely on guitar now soak up the Sponge sound.

Glen Meadows, Digital Love, Rex Antenna and P-Funk were on the Feb. 9 bill at the Ritz.

Sponge’s music is available at www.cdbaby.com and www.amazon.com. For more information on the band, visit www.spongetheband.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.