Desolation Center

Desolation Center

Saturday, May 5, 2018 - 8:45pm
Saturday, May 12, 2018 - 9:15pm
Stuart Swezey | 
US |
 2017 | 
92 minutes

Before Burning Man, Coachella, or Lollapalooza, there was the Desolation Center. A far cry from the alt-chic and nouveau riche nature of its many successors, the “desert shows” put on by the anarchist group were not so much festivals, but gathering grounds for punks and other outcasts who found themselves in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. In the middle of the DIY movement was Stuart Swezey, a 20-year-old broke LA punk with a knack for innovation and ingenuity. Swezey had previously organized many of the warehouse shows under the banner of the Desolation Center, but he was eager to expand and take the Center’s ethos beyond dingy warehouses to a site that the LAPD couldn’t touch. With little more than a few rented school buses, and friends from legendary punk outfits the Minutemen and Savage Republic, Swezey organized the Desolation Center’s first “Mojave Exodus” in 1982. Although there were no stages, little shelter, and a shoddy PA system, some 250 holders of homemade cardboard tickets were transfixed, and a movement was born. Inspired by a trip to Berlin, Swezey incorporated outsider art into Desolation Center events. Soon explosions, robots, and gunshots became commonplace at the Center’s shows alongside music from the likes of Sonic Youth, the Meat Puppets, and a young Perry Farrell. Anyone with a little bit of a rebellious streak in them will surely be drawn to gonzo inspiration from this journey back to a time of avant-garde punk nirvana. -CP


Stuart Swezey

Working in various fields (television programming, publishing, and event organization), Stuart Swezey takes on challenging creative projects and brings them to fruition. Prior roles include: VP, Development for Original Productions (Ice Road Truckers, Black Gold), Alternative Programming Executive for Syfy Channel, Documentary Film Producer, and Reality Television Producer and Show Runner. He is currently working on a number of projects including a re-launching of Amok Books as a digital media brand, and a digital media startup called Swagger Networks.