About the film
Large-scale events such as Coachella and Burning Man may be branded and hashtagged into oblivion by now, but their roots are in a specific corner of California’s punk counterculture, explored here by filmmaker (and protagonist) Stuart Swezey. Through archival material and present-day interviews, “Desolation Center” explores the guerrilla punk, Reagan-era industrial desert happenings that attracted experimental artists and nonconformists of all stripes, from Sonic Youth to the Minutemen. It traces a scene’s migration from the clubs of Los Angeles to — by necessity — outdoor spaces where they eluded attention from the authorities, only to blossom decades later, somewhat ironically, into cultural institutions like Burning Man, Lollapalooza and Coachella. Michigan premiere.