When I first saw this advertised, I was like “yay, finally something I can go to!” and then reality sunk in and I realized I’d be spending another night on my couch, presumably in some kind of altered state, though this time it would look like I was looking out my window.

Moving to the desert was a great, albeit kinda scary decision. We bought a house without seeing it in person in the middle of the pandemic. But we had suddenly realized we didn’t want to go back to LA from Texas- it has changed a lot since we were last there- where I used to roam the streets of Hollywood at night by myself no problem, it now looks like Night of the Living Dead, and not in a fun way.

The desert has always had its draw for me… for many. Barren in a way that cleanses you with its extremes. Cosmic and kooky. A clich√© to visit but a feat to live in. You gotta be ok with isolation and focus and a little madness. Nature creepin’ in.

Desert rock“, or “stoner metal”, is one of the unofficial soundtracks of the region. People have dropped in to the desert to drop out for a long time. Riding riff waves to escape some kind of personal hell is a national pastime. And what a time to be alive, to experience this collective feeling of hell on earth. For those of us who practice some type of spirituality, we feel that the liminal space is particularly thin right now… and that’s in addition to being located in the infamous spiritual vortex of Joshua Tree.

Which brings us to Couchlock and Rock. This special edition of their annual Stoned and Dusted concert- aka, what they ended up with when they had to change their plans due to the virus- consists of 5 livestreams happening every couple weeks, each with a different band. I bought the package for $60 for all of the streams. The first stream focused on Earthless. The stream was available starting on the 23rd and was available for 48 hours.

Once logged on, there were about 30 minutes of psychedelic visuals over various bands’ music involved in the scene to warm me up. About every 30 minutes there would be a commercial break advertising the live albums that were releasing in conjunction with the live streams.

There were also some intermittent live footage from past Stoned and Dusted shows, or past shows from the bands featured. The “Before Times”. Things that feel like you’re watching another culture on NatGeo that didn’t know that every gesture natural to them was suddenly going to become ‘risky’ and cause PTSD to an entire generation even after this is all over.

Next up came an interview with the creator of the event, the director of the concert video and the sound engineer. Because these livestreams are not actually live as we are watching, they provided some good background on how everything came together [answer: very carefully]. It was a humorous conversation that added good color commentary to the event, and a reminder that the virus has messed up everything and this team had to work really hard to pull this off. I was also reminded that I hadn’t walked outside in a few days and I should do that.

At least an hour into the stream, the concert footage began. It’s daytime into dusk, and an awesome stage is set against a backdrop of boulders, Joshua Trees, and epic sky. There’s no lip service that I recall, except some title cards. Just about an hour and a half of jamming. The sound and scene were really beautiful and well done, with lots of drone shots. As the sun faded, the light show intensified. The landscape lit up in reds, greens, and yellows as sounds skidded across the crevices. One song flowed into the next, because I don’t know Earthless songs, and because it didn’t really matter. It was about the vibe. If there was ever a time we all needed to lock on to some sort of collective energy and ride it together, wouldn’t it be now? Isn’t music supposed to be a conduit for that? I’d prefer to ride this into the next dimension if that’s where we’re headed.

Stay tuned for the next livestream w/ Nebula on Feb. 6th.

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