For their shows, the rock band the Brothers of Alien Rock can be found dressed up in shiny silver alien costumes, complete with zany masks.
Online, you can peruse their episodic videos, documenting the adventures of a band of “stranded aliens left on Earth” with the “will to rock.” And now, the Florida-based group is planning on taking the stage for the first Alienstock festival in Rachel, Nevada.
When the “Storm Area 51” Facebook event ensnared the internet’s attention in July, with millions of people RSVPing to explore the mysteries of the secretive Nevada military location with otherworldly mystique, music producer and songwriter Mike Fern of the Brothers of Alien Rock was quick to sign on, too.
“All my platforms blew up,” Fern explains to TIME about hearing about the event. He’s spent the past few years establishing the Brothers’s reputation at festivals like Comic Con and last year’s Roswell UFO Festival, raising money from IndieGoGo campaigns to support the appearances. So when “Storm Area 51” went viral, he knew he had to “throw my hat in the ring,” as he puts it. That included working on new singles, including one aptly called “Don’t Storm the Gates,” which documents an alternate future in which humans help “rescue the aliens so they can go on to put on the greatest show of all time.”
Then the event morphed into the music festival Alienstock: pretty much a match made in extraterrestrial heaven for The Brothers of Alien Rock. “If you’re having this, we’re what you’re looking for,” Fern says. He launched another IndieGoGo campaign, and intends to perform on Saturday in Rachel. (There are two other competing Area-51-focused festivals on the same weekend, but Alienstock in Rachel is the only one that has currently released a musical lineup.)
The Brothers are only one of many musical acts that have been booked and advertised for the weekend so far. (Although the concept of a festival was floated soon after the event blew up, the planning has been dogged by security and logistics concerns from locals, and confusion about the plans and responsibilities of those involved.) Most of the acts planning to perform in Rachel have been brought together by Wily Savage, a rock band, and Connie Wright, the owner of the local Little A’le’inn, who has been coordinating logistics for the upcoming fest. The acts range from bands like the Weird Kids, a Portland-based alt-rock group with years of experience as professional musicians, to Speed of Light, a trio of young siblings from L.A., to bass-heavy DJ HVRCRFT to dancing girl group Pynk Le’monade.
For the Weird Kids, the appeal of the festival is less about the unknown and more about getting their music out to an audience they expect to be in the upper thousands, based on what they’ve heard so far from organizers. They’ve been around since 2016, with the current group made up of drummer Josh Chouinard, vocalist Nick Roberts, guitarist Adam Brooker, and bassist Isaac DeRosa playing together since December 2018. They weren’t exactly following the original event, though, before getting involved. “We were playing a show up in Seattle with Wily Savage, and they were talking to us about this festival that was being put together. We had next to no details, but it sounded like such a cool opportunity,” Chouinard told TIME; they even cancelled a small Midwest tour in order to play Alienstock. “We really didn’t know if it was going to actually pan out. But things started gelling more and more. We’ve seen actual checks for the deposit on the security people and the port-a-potties. There’s gonna be medical attention brought in,” he added.
To that end, they’ve been prepping for the weekend ahead with an extended set list and lots of time in the practice room. “Most of the bands have never played to the proposed amount of people coming to this event. Even if the attendance is half what it’s expected to be, it’s still 30 times our largest show,” Chouinard says. As for the aliens? “Here, UFOs? I don’t know. I think it’s just a government cover-up for things they don’t want us to see,” says DeRosa. “But I’m excited to hopefully see some aliens.” Brooker concurs: “I’m a little bit skeptical myself, but hey, if we end up playing the first concert to extraterrestrials, I won’t be mad about it.”
For Speed of Light — brothers Cameron Christensen, 16, and Tyler Christensen, 14, and sister Riley Christensen, 12 — this is one of the first big events they’ll play outside of their local L.A. scene after getting invited by a Wily Savage member via Instagram. “We hope aliens exist, and if they do, maybe they’ll like our brand of punk/desert rock,” Cameron tells TIME. “Maybe it can be like Close Encounters where we finally communicate with them through music! There’s a lot of doubters out there, but we didn’t get as far as we have through doubting. We choose to believe!”
The bands all seem keen on one main thing: giving the audience a good show. As for storming Area 51? Fern of the Brothers of Alien Rock doesn’t recommend it, given the intense security of the base. Cameron from Speed of Light warns against it, too. But as for what’s inside? “I believe it to be otherworldly,” Fern admits.