“We played in the middle of the Mojave Desert at a festival called the Gila Monster Jamboree . . . It was a magical night, one of my favorite (Sonic Youth) shows ever.”
— Kim Gordon, bassist of Sonic Youth, from her book Girl In A Band: A Memoir
Before the corporate alt-rock explosion of the ’90s birthed the likes of the Burning Man, Lollapalooza, and Coachella rock festivals, there was the Desolation Center: a punk rock version of Woodstock held out in the Mojave Desert that hosted the performances of Sonic Youth (1994: The Year Punk Broke), Minutemen (morphed into Firehose; music featured in A Matter of Degrees), Meat Puppets (soundtracks to Lovedolls Superstar, Love and a .45, SubUrbia, Losers Take All), Perry Farrell (of Jane’s Addiction), Redd Kross (Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, Spirit of ’76), Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, Savage Republic, and the Swans.
It all began in 1983 in the mind of a then 23-year-old Stewart Swezey, and Bruce Licher of Savage Republic, so as to provide a venue for bands, such as Black Flag, forced out of Los Angeles by a police department and local government that saw fit to raid clubs and instigate riots at punk rock shows. So the duo chose a site just outside of Mecca, California, three hours south of Los Angeles, to provide a safe, creative outlet for bands and their fans.
Desolation Center became available on Tuesday, June 23 for streaming via Apple TV (iTunes), Google Play, and the Amazon Instant Video platforms. Pair this one up with Social Distortion and Minor Threat in the Another State of Mind and Penelope Spheeris’s The Decline of Western Civilization for a night of retro-punk viewing.
Disclaimer: We were provided a screener by the film’s P.R firm. That has no bearing on our review.