watch Meat Puppets clip from ‘Desolation Center’ doc on 1980s desert fests ft. Sonic Youth & more
Documentary Desolation Center tells the story of a series of underground guerrilla music and art performance happenings in the California desert in the 1980s which predated festival culture in the US and was an influence on Burning Man, not to mention Lollapalooza, and Coachella. Finding it difficult to put on punk shows in mid-'80s LA without getting hassled by the man, a group of young people -- including Stuart Swezey who directed this film -- took to the desert where they could be free to do what they wanted to do. That included not just live music but pyrotechnics and performance art. Among the acts who played Desolation Center "happenings" were Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Perry Farrell, Redd Kross, Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, and Savage Republic.
A mix of archive footage and interviews, and new interviews, Desolation Center looks back at at that brief, lawless, loud period of time. Sonic Youth's first West Coast show was for one of these happenings, dubbed "Gila Monster Jamboree," where legend has it every one of the 500 attendees were on acid. Thurston Moore told the New York Times that the mood then was "one of complete joy and wonder at being together in a place that might as well have been another planet."
Desolation Center played film festivals and select screenings in 2019 and earlier this year, and will be available to rent digitally on June 23 via Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, and other services. We've got an exclusive clip featuring Meat Puppets' Cris Kirkwood talking about playing one of the Desolation Center shows, lit only by the moonlight, and performing while "enhanced." You can watch that -- plus a clip of Perry Farrel and Minutemen's George Hurly talking about playing a show on a boat, and the trailer for the film -- and check out a few pics, below.