In a crowd of Trekkies, gamers, cosplayers, and people who think The Dark Knight deserves an Oscar, there's not much you can say to incur loss of dignity. "I'm a U2 fan" might work, though.
See, U2 occupy a strange valence these days: Likely the most popular music group in the world, they also might be the most derided. They make too much money (a charge usually leveled at them by upper-middle-class bloggers who've had air-conditioning their whole lives and have never driven anything worse than a Honda Accord); they play shows for tens of thousands of people, which proves they're not "authentic" (rock'n'roll should only be played in small, dirty clubs with shitty equipment, as Elvis and the Beatles intended); and their lead singer won't shut up about how we should help poor people, most of whom aren't white (gross).
Science-fiction fans, however, should love the shit out of U2. Here's why:
They've put on the trippiest, future-shockiest, most technologically advanced rock concerts to date. The U2 most people make fun of seems to be the U2 of the 1980s, when Bono first started shouting about Africa, or the U2 of the 2000s, when he started actually working directly with high-ranking politicians on solving third-world poverty. The U2 of the '90s, arguably their artistically richest period to date, is conveniently forgotten. But find a DVD of 1993's Zoo TV show in Sydney — the concept of which was inspired in part by William Gibson's Neuromancer, as well as Marshall McLuhan and other futurists — and then tell me today's other musicians, a decade and a half later, couldn't be a teensy bit more adventurous when it comes to the concert experience. Beyond all the bells and whistles, the band also took advantage of satellite link-ups to broadcast live footage of war victims trapped in Sarajevo speaking to the rest of Europe in the middle of some shows; it was a controversial move — "like throwing a bucket of cold water over everybody," as drummer Larry Mullen Jr. put it — but a courageous one, and it presaged the present phenomenon of bloggers in war zones getting the word out about what's really happening in their countries.
(Their next tour, the PopMart show in '97-'98, was almost as techy, and featured a 40-foot-tall disco-ball lemon — from which the band emerged, UFO-style — rolling out at the start of the encore. A few times, the lemon didn't, uh, work.)
They make great science-fiction music. Hey, I love Queen as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy is, like, an average-level Queen fan and not someone who owns their entire discography. And the soundtracks to Flash Gordon and Highlander are inimitable and fitting. But they're campy, too, and tough to take seriously removed from the video they accompany.
Not so with U2's contribution to the SF canon: "Until the End of the World," an Achtung Baby song that appears in a different, possibly better mix on the soundtrack of the Wim Wenders film of the same name. The Tomb Raider remix of "Elevation." "Alex Descends Into Hell for a Bottle of Milk/Korova 1," a B-side that is the only piece of work to surface from the opera of A Clockwork Orange that Bono and the Edge were commissioned to write. And the whole album the band wrote with Brian Eno as a soundtrack to films that didn't exist. Not to mention the Edge's theme to the WB's The Batman cartoon, which was better than a lot of the actual episodes; and of course, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me," the only good thing, some would say, to come out of Batman Forever. (The animated video is fucking marvelous.) That song manages to be both take-seriouslyable and campy, and if U2 can approach its quality with the upcoming Spider-Man musical — well, that bodes well for those of us who'd like to see Peter Parker redeemed after the last movie.