Palm Desert Scene

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The Palm Desert Scene is a group of related bands and musicians from Palm Desert in Southern California. Their hard rock sound – which is often described as desert rock – contains elements of psychedelia, blues, alternative rock, heavy metal, hardcore punk, and other genres, often featuring distinctive repetitive drum beats, a propensity for free-form jamming, and "trance-like" or sludgy grooves; typically performed with electric guitar, bass guitar and a drum kit.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] The musicians often play in multiple bands simultaneously, and there is a high rate of collaboration between bands. The Palm Desert Scene is also notable for fostering stoner rock pioneers Kyuss. The term "stoner rock" is sometimes used interchangeably with the term "desert rock".[9][10] However, not all Palm Desert scene bands are "stoner rock".[7]

Palm Desert has been named by Blender magazine as "one of the top seven rock n' roll cities in America".[11]


The scene evolved from various Palm Desert bands' (especially Yawning Man's) marijuana-driven instrumental jam sessions in the desert.[2] It is largely known for its heavy, grinding riffs and association with the use of illicit substances, particularly marijuana, peyote, LSD, and magic mushrooms.[10][3] These jam sessions inevitably contained some psychedelic rock influences.[1] Possibly because of the scene's proximity to Mexico and Spanish speaking communities, there is a significant influence of Latin music on Palm Desert rock which is very evident with the El Miradors.[citation needed] Due in part to their roots as smalltime bar bands, many of the Palm Desert bands have strong blues elements in their music as well.[citation needed]

Palm Desert bands built a large local following by frequently performing at bars and parties in and around the isolated towns of Southern California's desert areas. The band Kyuss, specifically, performed shows at desert parties known as "generator parties".[12] These shows consisted of small crowds of people, beer drinking, drugs, and the use of gasoline-powered generators to provide electricity for the musical equipment.[13][3] Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age member Josh Homme commented that playing in the desert "was the shaping factor for [Kyuss]", noting that "there's no clubs here, so you can only play for free. If people don't like you, they'll tell you. You can't suck."[12][14][15][10]

The Palm Desert Scene gets well featured and rave reviews in the local annual world-famous Coachella Music Fest in nearby Indio.

The Desert Sessions[edit]

Main article: The Desert Sessions

One remarkable project within this scene are the Desert Sessions, in which Josh Homme invites a group of musicians, most of whom are from the Palm Desert scene, to Rancho De La Luna, a studio in the desert, where they write, rehearse and record some 10 songs in one week's time. The songs are recorded and then never played again. The Desert Sessions series has now yielded 10 volumes, which have been released in pairs on CD but individually in 10" vinyl EP format. Though the series is commonly associated with the Palm Desert Scene, not all artists in the scene have participated, and there have been other artists to contribute to the project who are clearly not from the scene, such as John McBain of Red Bank, New Jersey's Monster Magnet, Dean Ween of Pennsylvania's Ween and England's PJ Harvey.[3]

Notable figures[edit]

Notable bands and musicians with the Desert Scene include the following:

Scene musicians

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Vanhorn, Teri. "Queens Of The Stone Age At Home In Desert". MTV. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Normadic Pursuits - Yawning Man". Allmusic. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e
  4. ^ Orzeck, Kurt. "QOTSA End Year On A High Note: Josh Homme Reunites With Kyuss Singer In L.A.". MTV. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Loeffler, Shawn. "BRANT BJORK AND THE LOW DESERT PUNK BAND HIT THE STONER GROOVE ON “STOKELY UP NOW”". Yell Magazine. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Linn, Robin; Lalli, Mario (July 19, 2013). "The strange births of Desert Rock". The Sun Runner, Journal of the Real Desert. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Dewey, Casey. "Stoner Rock's Best Kept Secret". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Mettler, Mike. "A Desert Soundtrack". Palm Springs Life. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "News: and MeteorCity Part Ways". May 19, 2004. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c Lynskey, Dorian. "Kyuss: Kings of the stoner age". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Fong, Erik (November 4–17, 2003). "One Flew Over the Eagle's Nest". Blender 2 (3). Archived from the original on January 19, 2008. 
  12. ^ a b Morris, Chris (15 January 1994), "Kyuss lands on its feet and keeps climbing", Billboard: 1 
  13. ^ Billik, Kira L. (14 March 1993), "Confused punk rockers' have an identity crisis", Buffalo News: G3 
  14. ^ Felci, Michael. "Dave Grohl explores desert rock in HBO series". The Desert Sun. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  15. ^ Bennett, J. "Kyuss Vocalist John Garcia Is Free At Last". Noisey. Vice. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Fessier, Bruce (June 30, 2014). ""Zach Huskey offering variety show of desert sound"". The Desert Sun.