Indie Fans in the Armed Forces: They're Polite, Dedicated, and Turn Up In the Craziest Places

Probably not listening to Owl City.
I'm always surprised when I meet superfans of my band who are in the military. The extra effort it must require for them to seek out indie-rock in a barracks culture that almost certainly hews pretty closely to the Rap/Metal/Country triumvirate of mainstream suck makes them seem like a whole different level of music fan. I once talked to a couple of Army Rangers who drove up to see us play with Death Cab for Cutie in Nebraska from their base in Alabama because it was the closest we were coming to them on tour. They were so excited to see the show it was easy to forget that their day-job was to jump out of helicopters. These days they probably look like this guy (above).

I mean, kids make herculean drives to see their favorite bands all the time, but the fact that these guys were coming from such a radically different environment made their effort seem more poignant. Another fan of ours, an Air Force pilot, has a way of "showing up" randomly at our shows in far-flung places. He gives the impression that he's figured out a way to fly out to see us by offering to ferry jets to bases near where we're playing. That's the kind of resourcefulness we should be proud to have in our officer corps. To meet him he seems like any other fan in his mid-twenties, albeit with shorter hair and a more respectful demeanor, but again, there's an aspect of his life that's so alien to us it makes him appear otherworldly.

Cranking the Long Winters.
I think about these guys whenever I read the news, picturing them in Afghanistan or Iraq listening to the Decemberists or the Mountain Goats as a way of staying sane in the truly otherworldly atmosphere of a war zone. We've all used music at one time or another as a retreat from the turmoil of daily life, amazing to think that it might retain that power even to mitigate combat.
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