[show=fannation size=large]My last night at SXSW, I snapped up a chance to attend a live Proclaimers show, thus satisfying the 12-year-old inside me who still knows all the words to every song on Sunshine on Leith (I owned it on CASSETTE, y’all). Because of the band’s iconic tune I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), I heard a lot of jokes about how far, exactly, I would have walked to see them play. That night, I only had to go about five city blocks, but it did make me ponder how much further I would have traveled. Would I have gone the distance that AC/DC fans did for a chance to see their favorite band perform their first live show in five years? Maybe not.
But that’s because those fans are for real, a fact Sony Music chose to document with an entire web series revolving around AC/DC’s return to the stage in October 2008. AC/DC Fannation essentially borrows the approach of Awesome; I F—ing Shot That!, the Beastie Boys’ experiment in crowdsourced show footage, to create a Trekkies for hard-core AC/DC fans, and the result is a loving portrait. Not a loving portrait of a band, though — the true subject here is their fanbase.
A contest prize that’s essentially doing double duty, Sony asked contestants to upload videos proving why they were most worthy of seeing their favorite band perform live (a task which also required them to prove that they knew how to use a camera), then selected eight super-fans from around the country to lead caravans of people to the concert in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. According to a press release, close to 200 people participated, driving as many as 20 hours to do so, their trips lovingly captured by their own cameras as well as a documentary team headed up by cinematographer Hisham Abed (the DP and producer who created the visual look of Laguna Beach and The Hills).
The first episode focuses on AC/DC fans telling stories about their personal interactions with the band, the sort of “One time, he totally touched my arm as he walked on the stage” stories that are only truly earthshaking when they happen to you. But the second installment takes a step back to focus on fans’ origin stories (and is the episode in which, as you might anticipate, everyone starts showing off 20-year-old tattoos.) There are five more episodes to go before the actual concert is shown, but there’s plenty of meat to be gotten out of not just the journey to the arena, but the journey each person has been on as a result of their devotion.
Judging any group based on a small sample size feels unfair, but some conclusions can be drawn about the stereotypical AC/DC fan based on those chosen to participate — think bandannas as headgear, experimental facial hair or extreme cleavage, and white skin. But despite being willing to drive thousands of miles to see AC/DC perform, the subjects all seem to be socially well-adjusted folk who just really love their band, and love the chance to meet like-minded souls. Watching them meet and mingle in the parking lot, beers in hand, thrilled as hell to be there….how far wouldn’t you travel to feel like that?