It’s a hot, dusty Sunday afternoon in the Joshua Tree desert. I’m in a tent trying to hold my body in something I’ve just been told is called a warrior pose while Wolves In The Throne Room’s “Prayer of Transformation” gives way to Sleep’s “Holy Mountain”. This is black metal yoga at Desert Daze festival, and it’s surprisingly meditative. “Yoga teachers tend to focus on things that are light and positive,” explains Alissa Nelson, our black metal yogi, “That can be great, but when people are in a certain place that doesn’t resonate. Black metal can be dark and gory, but it plays on that dark aspect that’s in all of us.”
Black metal yoga is just one of a whole roster of strange events being held in the festival’s Mystic Bazaar. Next up is something promisingly called “plant activation meditation”, then a little later it’s the ominously titled ‘defense against the dark arts’. Elsewhere, an entire venue has been given over to a five-hour ‘deep drone cycle’. Make of that what you will, but only 50 miles from the site of Coachella it’s impressive to see a wholly different conception of what a music festival is and what it might be for. Along with the chance to see the likes of Iggy Pop, Spiritualized and Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Desert Daze also offers probably the closest thing an American rock festival has to the hippy spiritualism of Glastonbury’s healing fields.