I would argue that American life currently exists on two poles: the neverending quest for consumption and entertainment and the pursuit of transcendent ideals. Neither mode is probably desirable in its pure form, but the right way to mix them isn't clear either. The quest for consumption and entertainment gives us the comedians we love, and the strict pursuit of transcendent ideals gives us scary cults. That's kind of the mental or spiritual axis, while the physical axis is the way we configure the built and natural environment, most often to express something mental and/or physical.
Arguably, it's possible to plot the culture of those who vote Republican and those who vote Democratic on this axis. It occurred to me that Alterra's longtime location on N. Prospect Ave. seems as much an expression of a religion as any church or synagogue. Posters advertising upcoming concerts abound, with the acts all meeting a certain profile: experimental music that hits the right notes of "quirky" and "retro", is relatively low-tech, and plays to venue no larger than, at most, the Riverside Theatre. Fans of this music can position themselves in a fairly granular manner. It usually has strong gay and lesbian appeal, often ties into parallel trends in cinema such as Brother Where You Bound, and--perhaps most importantly--sets the listener apart from the Katy Perry-listening masses.
Or, more to the point, the country music listening masses. While alternative music evokes the claustrophobia of too-close relationships and living conditions, country music is an unending hymn to the American road. Those who see their car and endless asphalt as the key to their individualism and values--a large percentage of the current American population, I'd argue--gravitate towards music that is country in name only. In fact, it encompasses every music genre that appeared on the American charts of thirty years ago. It's lassoed into the country corral to reassure consumers that it will stick to themes of boy-girl intrigue, heterosexual romance, patriotism sometimes veering into nationalistic jingoism, and praise of the open road and the large vehicles that roll there.