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Eastern Idaho’s ‘Superfan’ remembered

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Matthew Combe | Courtesy photo

IDAHO FALLS — A tall, olive-skinned, middle-aged man with long black hair walks through a crowd, gently pushing them aside as he makes his way to the front of the stage where Gutter and the Onslaught are playing.

Close enough to feel the spit flying from the vocalist’s mouth, he whips out his phone and records the band. The song comes to a close, and the man cheers and applauds with everything he’s got. He makes his way to the stage and embraces each member of the local crew, congratulating them on a heck of a performance. After complimenting the band, he heads out the door just as fast as he came in, on his way to another concert.

If you’re familiar with the east Idaho rock scene, chances are you know Matthew Combe. Dubbed a “superfan” by most who knew him because of his undying love for rock music and his unyielding support for eastern Idaho’s local bands, Combe died earlier this week at the age of 53 from natural causes, according to his obituary.

Combe was often seen going to multiple concerts a night, cheering on the local artists. Julie Blakeman, one of Combe’s best friends, remembers going out one night on a “band binge,” seeing three different groups. After each performance, he complimented the band on how great they sounded and had them sign a T-shirt for him. He proceeded to take a selfie with them, posting it on social media.

Julie Blakeman, left, and Matthew Combe. | Courtesy photo

“He always wanted to let the bands know how great they were and how good they sounded,” said Blakeman. “Sometimes I would look at him and just say, ‘Are you kidding me? They sounded horrible.’”

Yet Combe always remained positive and reminded the artists that as long as they were trying, they were a hero in his book. The mere act of trying their best never ceased to satisfy him.

Combe was also there to lend a hand, helping in any way he possibly could at the concerts he attended. Fans often saw him carrying bands’ instruments onto the stage, never being paid a dime.

Thanks to his positivity and enthusiasm, most — if not all — of the rock bands in the region came to know who Combe was. His love of rock music had made him a beloved figure within the scene. Consequently, on his 50th birthday in 2015, five of Combe’s favorite local bands came together to throw a concert party for him. They dubbed the event “Superfan,” and nearly 150 close friends of his were in attendance. Overwhelmed with joy, he cried that night.

Though his love of music is unparalleled, the real story is Combe’s outstanding character.

In spite of a rough childhood in which he was orphaned at an early age, friends say Combe kept a positive attitude and never spoke ill of anyone. He is remembered as being someone who was bold, and sometimes boisterous, but also someone who would offer a hug or a smile to those around him.

“He was kind of in your face about everything, yet nobody ever wanted to pick a fight with him,” said Nate Gutter, a local bandleader and friend of Combe.

Matthew Combe, left, and Nate Gutter. | Courtesy photo

Friends say Combe’s attitude towards life was contagious, leaving a significant impact on anyone who crossed paths with him. Both Blakeman and Gutter say he will be sorely missed.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the 14th Ward building for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 651 Gladstone St. in Idaho Falls. Family and friends will gather at the chapel at 1 p.m.

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