Detroit-based indie rockers The High Strung
, whose penchant for playing live music in libraries was the subject of a This American Life feature
, were invited to play a show at the Guantanamo Bay library this summer. They said yes. What followed is documented in a Vanity Fair
article, written by the older brother of one of the bandmembers.
Some of their turnout may have been siphoned off by the presence of another group that had flown in with them [m]ade up of about eight active-duty armed forces members(...) "They're called USA Express," Derek said. "Which is probably the worst band name in the world. That's the best we can do, the all-powerful minds of the U.S. military? Anything would be better than that. The Rangers. The Fighters. Really, anything.
USA Express was also a rock band, but in a different idiom. They played covers of contemporary hits, as instructed by the Army. "Nothing they did was their decision," Derek said. "Where they went, how long they performed, their playlist. The Army said, You have to learn these 60 songs, and your first tour starts in three weeks. Go." For prurience sake, I asked what the 60 songs were. "Something by Pink, 'Freebird,' 'Billie Jean.'" Derek laughed. "That was the highlight of their first show for me actually, 'Billie Jean,' because I was invited to sit in. Their drummer was this 52 year-old dude, and he wanted to perform some dance moves during 'Billie Jean,' so they asked me to cover for him, and he got up and did this Michael Jackson-style dancing while we played.
Video of that "Michael Jackson-style dancing" after the jump. The High Strung Rocks Gitmo (Vanity Fair, thanks Mark Kleiman)
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