In July, a satirical Facebook event called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” made headlines when millions of users indicated they were either “interested” in or “going” to join in a citizen invasion of the mysterious Air Force base in Nevada. “We will all meet up in Rural Nevada and coordinate our parties,” the event description read. “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens.” The post got so much attention that the Air Force put out a statement warning that “any attempt to illegally access military installations or military training areas is dangerous.” In reaction to the event, presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Bernie Sanders have even promised to declassify potential evidence of extraterrestrials at the base if elected.
Faced with unexpected viral success, the 20-year-old creator of the Facebook event, Matty Roberts, is now planning to hold an actual festival in September called Alienstock in Rachel, Nevada, the town closest to Area 51. Roberts told the Washington Post that he’s expecting anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 people to attend. The website for the town itself, which has less than 100 residents, is warning that it might not be able to support such an event, while the website for the festival promises “a weekend full of camping, music, & arts!” Although it’s not clear what exactly Roberts has planned for the festival, there is one band currently listed as attending. The rock trio Wily Savage has confirmed that it will perform at Rachel’s Little A’Le’Inn, a 10-room motel, on Sept. 19 as part of the weekend’s happenings. I spoke to Alon Burton, the band’s singer and guitarist, about what he expects to happen at the festival—and why, thanks to his own UFO sighting, he might be a believer.
Aaron Mak: Tell me a bit about your band.
Alon Burton: We formed in 2017. We’re from Los Angeles. We’ve been now touring full time since April 1. We have a four-song EP out and some other music in the works.
How did you first become aware of the Area 51 event? Were you part of the original Facebook group?
We saw it right around the time that it started blowing up, when it was hitting a million people. Jeremy, our drummer said, “Hey, we should go play that.” We’ve spent some time out in Nevada, and he was aware of the Little A’Le’Inn. So he just called up Connie West, the owner of the Little A’Le’Inn, and made arrangements for us to play. This was before they even decided to change the [Facebook] event into a music festival.
So now you’re part of the main festival?
Yeah, currently we’re the only band listed.
Do you know if there’s going to be any other musical acts there?
Yeah. Currently there’s a list that’s being vetted of something like, getting close to 200 bands or acts that have contacted the organizers. But at this point, nobody’s been verified besides us.
What have the organizers told you about what to expect there?
There’s still a lot of speculation as to what to expect, but [Connie] has definitely done a lot of work to get port-a-potties, water, gas, all of that sort of thing out there. Those logistics are coming together pretty quickly.
Are there any plans to actually storm the base?
I definitely don’t think that the majority of people are thinking that. They’re just coming up there to experience the phenomenon. But you know how crazy people are. There’s probably some people that are gonna try to do something. But I don’t think that the majority of people have the balls to storm a military base. We are definitely not planning on it.
Why are you doing this performance? What motivated you guys to go out there?
We’re all a little obsessed with aliens and UFOs. It sounded like a fun thing to do, and it’s definitely picked up a lot of momentum and got a lot of publicity.
So I’m assuming you believe in aliens? Do you think there are any at Area 51?
I like to entertain the ideas. I’m a skeptic at heart, but personally I had a pretty intense UFO experience. I won’t necessarily say it was aliens, but it was definitely beyond my understanding of our current technologies.
Wait, what did you see?
A UFO out in the middle of the forest, near the border of California and Oregon about 20 miles inland from the coast. Initially it was a sound. My friend and I were out in a clearing looking at the sky, and we felt what we thought was earthquake at first. But then it became an audible, super-low rumble, like a subwoofer sound that permeated our bodies. Then we saw a light on the other side of the trees, which was just a massive light, like an ovular body. The whole thing was light. It wasn’t like it was a light on a structure. The pitch of the noise rose as this thing rose up over the trees. In that area, those trees are pretty tall. They’re smaller redwoods, but they’re still like a hundred feet tall. This thing was massive and it came up over the trees, and the pitch just rose up and rose up and it shot off like super speed and was just gone.
So there was an acceleration once it got to a certain height.
Yeah, it totally cleared the trees and it just zipped off. It was gone within like a second.
Can you give an estimate of the size? Like the size of a truck or a plane?
Much bigger. Probably the size of a small house. It was massive. It was extremely unnerving. We were in the middle of nowhere. We had driven up a dirt road for miles, and then hiked all day up into the woods and set up camp. Then the sun went down, and we went up to find a clearing. We found this little area where there was clearing for telephone poles, and that’s where it took place. I couldn’t figure out any technologies that we have that would do something like that.
Do you remember the shape at all?
Like the shape of a watermelon.
You know, those really annoying headlights? Like kind of blue, white light blinding headlights? It was that color. But the light wasn’t coming out of it. It was just all light, if that makes sense.
But you didn’t see who or what was operating it? You didn’t see anything inside?
I didn’t see. It was just a giant object, and we couldn’t see anything around it. Like I said, it wasn’t like a light on structure. It was a structure that was all light.
What do you think might be at Area 51?
Like I said, I’ve read a lot of books, watched a lot of documentaries. There might be some technologies there, and again it might just be a facility for testing advanced aeronautics. Supposedly if there was any alien technologies there, they were moved to the Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio, a long time ago.
So moving on to the performance, what are you planning? Will it be customized at all for the theme of the festival?
We’re working on some ideas and some thematic concepts. You know, alien concepts. But we do have some songs that are about aliens and UFOs and such.
Oh, you do? Which ones?
We have a song called “Shapeshifter,” which is a story about reptilian shape shifters. Not that I particularly believe in them. I just think it’s entertaining.
There are some reports that locals are worried that the town doesn’t have the infrastructure to support a festival like this. This is also a very short timeline for setting up something like this. Are you concerned at all that it’ll be chaotic when you get there?
There’s a little concern for sure, but I think it’s a good gamble. They are pulling some resources together pretty quickly and have already locked in fuel and water and gasoline trucks up there. I think it is gonna be pushing the limits, but they’re definitely working hard to get a lot of the logistics figured out this month.
So you’re pretty optimistic.
Yeah. You know, I definitely think there’s a possibility of it being a little crazy. The traffic situation is probably one of the biggest hurdles. It’s just one lane going each way into a town with no parking, but there’s tons of empty land out there.
Do you have any contingency plans if anything goes haywire?
Yeah, we, uh, we don’t really.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.