When I was a kid, I witnessed my dad playing air guitar along to his favourite records a whole bunch of times. As a kid, I didn’t really understand it. I just thought my dad was being ridiculous. But then he explained the concept of air guitar to me, and I got it. And once I was able to get past the whole “Oh no, I’ll look ridiculous!” factor, I got quite into playing air guitar myself. And then, when I got a little bit older, I got a real guitar and started learning how to play it.
Maybe it was one of those things where they wanted to make sure I was committed to pretending to play the instrument before they let me actually play the instrument.
I say that last part as a joke, but I actually kind of mean it. You see, once I got proficient enough to play guitar in a band, I became fascinated by my drummer’s instrument of choice. I mean, I’ve always loved hitting things – and if I can hit things rhythmically, that’s even better!
So I started drumming with my hands and feet on just about any hard surface I could find. Desks, kitchen counters, the seat on the bus, my bed, the deck – wherever!
It got pretty annoying to my parents, not surprisingly. Annoying to the point where they bought me a drumset – because that’s the logical answer. Actually, I’ve always been pretty lucky that my parents actually enjoy hearing me beat the piss out of my drums – especially now, 10 years later, when I actually know what I’m doing. But when I started, playing that 70’s Pearl kit of odds and ends that was purchased for $80 at a storage unit sale, that was when I realized that I had a LOOOOONG, long way to go before I could even be considered a mediocre drummer. Yeah – drumming on your desk or your steering wheel isn’t quite the same as playing an actual kit.
However, when you’re all practiced up and really know what you’re doing with the sticks, it becomes infinitely easier to impress people with your air drumming.
If you’re here on The Wolf’s website, you probably already know about Rush drummer Neil Peart retiring from music in 2015. It’s obviously very sad for all the Rush fans who have come to worship The Professor, but if you’ve ever watched him play a live show, you’ve seen just how crazy he goes in that full-circle drum kit, and you get it. Playing the drums takes a physical toll on anyone who does it – and that toll is going to be greater on someone who plays with the technical prowess that Peart does, having been named “World’s Greatest Drummer” many times over.
Now Subdivisions isn’t the most taxing Rush song to play, from a drummer’s perspective, but you’ll see from this video that even during the simple-sounding parts, Peart finds a way to add little things in to spice it up.
To play the drums to a Rush song is certainly no easy task for anyone. I mean, sure, anyone with rhythm would be able to just hold a beat throughout. If you’re just going for the basics and not worried about the fancy stuff, you could get through a Rush song as a novice drummer.
To play a Rush song on the drums properly, you better have some skills. There are so many little intricacies in Peart’s playing that fly under the radar. And even if you know they’re coming, good luck commanding your body to actually do what you need it to do. I say that from experience… The experience of failing at trying to play Xanadu all the way through.
However, this guy (or girl – but it’s a Rush concert, so let’s be real – it’s probably a single dude) in the next video must be a wicked good drummer who has studied the parts. Kudos to whoever gave him a couple glowsticks or whatever to play the air drums with. Or perhaps he brought them from home knowing he would do this the entire show. His accuracy is incredible, and if his air drumming is any indication, I bet he could step right in behind Peart’s monster kit and take over. I mean, obviously, they’ll never be able to replace Neil Peart – but just watch what this guy does!
According to the video description, this guy did that for the WHOLE show, and was pretty accurate throughout. Guy knows his Rush, and his way around a kit.
So there you go, air-instrument players of the world. Never give up that dream! Because you never know – one day, if you get good enough, some radio jock somewhere might write a blog about YOU, suggesting you could take over for one of your favourite musicians. Hey – it could happen!