New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Desolation Center, the indie music festival documentary which has played numerous film festivals worldwide, is set to begin a national theatrical rollout starting on September
13th in Los Angeles. The film is the untold story of a series of guerrilla music and art performance happenings in the 80s which inspired the birth of contemporary festival culture including Burning Man, Lollapalooza and Coachella. The film combines interviews of punk and post-punk luminaries with rare performance footage of Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Perry Farrell, Redd Kross, Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, Savage
Republic and more, giving viewers unprecedented access to a time when pushing the boundaries of music, art, and performance was like an unspoken obligation. Directed by the creator and organizer of the original events, Stuart
Swezey, Desolation Center tells the true story of how the risky, and at times even reckless, actions of a few outsiders were able to incite seismic cultural shifts.
The new theatrical cut of Desolation Center includes an interview with Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction
and co-founder of Lollapalooza who was a participant in all of the Desolation Center events. The film will be having its New York City premiere as part of the Rooftop Films series with an outdoor screening in the historic Green-Wood Cemetery on Thursday, August 15th followed by a 50+ city run across North America
in the following weeks.
The story of the guerrilla music and performance events of the Desolation Center is inextricably linked with the director's own story as a young adult in the punk and post-punk music scene in the early 1980s. Desolation Center is more than just the story of a series of wild and unorthodox happenings. The film is also true to the spirit of freedom and possibility that punk and its clarion call of creative deconstruction embodied.
Audience members in Box Canyon, Mojave Auszug, near Mecca, CA 1984 - Photo by Scot Allen
The timeless power of DIY-do-it-yourself culture is an ongoing theme in the film. Director Stuart
Swezey told the New York Times, "D.I.Y. is now a shorthand for a lot of things," he said. "But the idea that you can have a wacky idea and get a bunch of people to go along with it, and make it happen even with very limited resources - that was life-affirming."
The film explores an almost lost subcultural story that will also be a catalyst to future generations to question assumptions and carve out new possibilities to express themselves. As Thurston Moore also described to the New York Times, the mood was "one of complete joy and wonder at being together in a place that might as well have been another planet." He said the most radical attribute of Desolation Center was that "it asked no permission," and he called the show "one of the great moments" in the history of Sonic Youth.
setting up gear, Gila Monster Jamboree near Lucerne Valley, CA 1985 - Photo by Bob Durkee
Desolation Center has screened across the globe including the prestigious European CPH:DOX Film Festival in Denmark, Sheffield Doc/Fest in the UK and its US premiere at Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. More recently, it brought home Audience Awards at SF Indiefest and Chicago
Underground Film Festival and was a selection of the Detroit
Free Press Freep Festival screening at the Third Man Records store.
"a fascinating glimpse at the emergence of a phenomenon." - The Hollywood Reporter
"Highly recommended... a comprehensive you-are-there recount of an unbelievable chapter in music history, made possible by the very facets that define punk rock... like the anti-Fyre Festival doc: the music involved is anti-establishment as hell, the show is an art piece itself, and the whole DIY operation actually worked." - RogerEbert.com
"The magic of the shows is that... they were raw, they were real, and, most importantly, they were completely original." - Vice
"Between the utopian music festivals of the late 1960s and the corporate behemoths they've become, a series of site-specific concerts in Southern California once offered an alternative, wildly independent vision of what these types of events could be." - Hyperallergic.com
"these desert shows would go on to shape and influence marquee US music festivals, with Burning Man taking direct inspiration." - Huck
"Coachella, Burning Man, Lightning in a Bottle all owe a debt to Desolation Center, the punk godfather event that kicked off 'festival culture.'" - John Law (Co-founder, Burning Man festival)