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‘Guitar Hero’ Tour Rages on in NYC

Electronic axe-slingers rock the memorabilia-lined walls of Time Square's Hard Rock Café for the chance to become Boston-bound and meet rock legends Aerosmith

Guitar-wielding gamers and their entourage of rock ‘n’ roll revelers came out last night (July 28) for the Guitar Hero: Aerosmith ROCKS the Hard Rock contest – sponsored by Spin and the Hard Rock Café. Sixteen competitors (minus two drop-outs) converged on Time Square’s Hard Rock Cafe to vie for the chance to become one of four video-game guitar greats invited to meet Aerosmith themselves and face off in Boston to win a custom Red Wing Motorcycle designed by the band.

The contest kicked off with a classic display of faux-guitar brilliance. Notable contestants included Marco, who duck-walked to defeat through “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes, and Keith, a black-garbed, backwards baseball cap-wearing southpaw, whose “God of Rock” T-shirt and unorthodox reverse fret-board grip – learned from years of euphonium playing – nearly made him fan favorite. Female contestants were few and far between, but that didn’t prevent most male competitors from living their guitar dreams vicariously through one of the game’s female rocker characters.

But the real story of the night was that of Phil and his high-hanging guitar protégé Jonathan Rubin. Friends from Staten Island and Guitar Hero tournament newbies, they went head-to-head in the final four. Phil showcased his technical prowess, channeling the power of Kerry King’s Ozzfest 2004 “Warlock” guitar that hung from the restaurants rafters. But it wasn’t enough to contest the fluid thumb strumming of Jonathon Rubin, who advanced to the championship.

The final shred-off became an epic battle, pittingRubin vs. Jonathan Warrick, who displayed a stunning lever-flicking speed to Aerosmith’s “Train Kept a-Rollin.” As dining families looked on in amazement, a break in the song was the only let-up in the duo’s button pushing precision, giving the gamers time to recoup their strength and finish the set in a blaze of guitar-screaming glory.

In the end it was the baby-faced 22 year-old Warrick wining guitar-game supremacy. “I was impressed because I usually fall under pressure, I overcame the nervousness, and it’s a good feeling,” he told us.

The award for fan favorite came down to decibels, as the emcee asked the audience to scream in support of their favorite contestant. The cheers ensued, and with a thunderous roar, the Hard Rock’s Shaolin contingent catapulted Jonathon Rubin to fan favorite, earning the Staten Islander a Guitar Hero controller signed by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

Rubin vs. WarrickCheck out photos from last night

Jonathan Rubin (left) and Jonathan Warrick were the prime faux-axe slayers at the Aerosmith ROCKS the Hard Rock NYC tour stop. / Photo by Sachyn Mital

Two less righteous competitors try their hand at the action. / Photo by Sachyn Mital

The dinner crowd stares with awe at the proceedings. / Photo by Sachyn Mital

Guitar Hero hopefuls in a trance. / Photo by Sachyn Mital

Emcee Adam Hughes (right) encourages the audience’s reaction. / Photo by Sachyn Mital