Meet The Marquis
UP grad student Rob Messel holds position of reigning world air guitar champion
Standing in the wings for the first time, Rob Messel felt the intimidation kick in. His carefully done makeup began to dampen with sweat. He felt his wig brush on his shoulders and the beat of the music vibrate through him.
The eruption of applause in the crowd was mesmerizing as he stepped out on stage to make his debut. Messel swung his arm and the first strum of the ear deafening guitar electrified the crowd, but he was gripping only air -- there was no instrument in his hands.
It was 2012. Rob Messel had just competed in the citywide air guitar competition in Boston. After months of preparation, choreography, costuming, and character development, “The Marquis” was born.
Seven years later, Messel would be declared the best air guitarist in the world.
“You're on stage, people are watching you and you've got nothing between you and them,” Messel said. “You have no drum set or mic stand even to stand behind or lean on, it's just you.”
After joining the world of air guitar nine years ago, Messel hasn’t looked back -- winning multiple competitions, including both the National Air Guitar Championship in Nashville and the World Air Guitar Championship in Finland in 2019.