It’s 1988, and Darren (Bobby Bowen) is the blonde-headed friend of air band frontman Bobby Manelli (Zachary Hale). Despite starting the band together, Manelli has ascended to teenage air rockstar status while Darren quietly plays rocking air guitar in the background. Dynamics are challenged, however, when rival Jonathan (Rainer Moore) arrives at the skating rink for the Battle of the Air Bands and performs a crowd-winning rock ballad instead of the normal air band rock antics.
Darrell C. Hazelrig’s short film Air Band is at once a nostalgic trip through the ’80s and also a coming-of-age story for our young air musicians. It’s funny and cute, and I enjoyed the conflict that occurs when the band finds themselves in a situation where they may have to turn their backs on their vow to never perform a ballad if they hope to win the day. It’s not just a moment for the air band to find out where they stand musically, it’s also a satire of on the decline of hair metal in the ’80s, when the bands that rocked and sang about partying all the time started giving us power ballads instead.
The short delivers the ’80s via locations, clothes and musical choices, but especially with the overall quality of the image. The slightly fuzzy, not-so-crisp imagery works if we remember that most video from the ’80s lived on VHS, and this at least looks comparable-to-better than that. In that way we have a film that may not just be informed by that time, it very well could’ve come from that time.
Air Band is a fun flick that sneaks in some satire at the same time. I spent a good deal of time in skating rinks in the ’80s, and I wish there were air band battles going on when I was there. Instead, I just got questionable pizza and “Couple’s Skate.”
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