35 Years Ago: SONIC YOUTH live in the Mojave Desert (Gila Monster Jamboree)

Daily Noise - / 2020

35 Years Ago: SONIC YOUTH live in the Mojave Desert (Gila Monster Jamboree)

SONIC YOUTH played live on this day in 1985 during their first west coast tour. The concert - the Gila Monster Jamboree - was the last organised by Stuart Swezey's Desolation Center at their "all new remote [Mojave] desert location".

Swezey released Desolation Center, a documentary about these legendary gigs, in 2018.

Also playing that day ("Gila Monster Jamboree will start at 3PM. We are anticipating that the show will be through at 9:30 PM. The High Desert can get real cold in the winter at night.") were PSI/COM, REDD KROSS and the MEAT PUPPETS.
Tickets $7.50 check or M.O., tickets with bus transportation $15.

Gila Monster Jamboree flyer

There was a very intense communal psychedelic experience that went on that night. You kind of had to be there as any description of it would only make is sound corny.

Dave Markey, The Hundreds, 2018

SONIC YOUTH's set was filmed by Flipside and released on VHS as Gila Monster Jamboree on the Sonic Death label.

...100 miles out into the Mojave Desert, was our first "L.A." gig, first time we'd played on the west coast, part of an airplane tour from Seattle on south. That picture of us "in the back of a Chevy" on the Death Valley '69 12-inch is also from this trip. The gig was organized by one Stuart Sweezy, now of Amok Press (check it out!), who had this penchant for strange locations -- Minutemen and Meat Puppets on a barge on the S.F. Harbor, another desert gig with Einsterzende Neubauten... your ticket entitled you to a map to the gig site which was not handed out until the morning of the show (to prevent scans). Else you could buy a place on one of the buses hired to transport those transported souls with better things to do than cope with the road. The gig started early in the day with Psi-Com, which featured a barefoot Perry Farrell skanking in the sand and waxing poetic. Redd Kross followed, and by the time we went on it was about twilight. These songs were mostly brand new at the time, from the as-yet unreleased Bad Moon Rising LP. We'd waited a long time to make it west, and this was a pretty perfect introduction. Bob Bert was on the drums with us at the time. The cover photo, by someone named Alan Peak, all trails and blurr, sums up the occasion quite well. Band portrait by Naomi Petersen. This video was shot by the folks at Flipside Magazine. After us came the Meat Puppets, who played on into the night as the desert cold set in, under a big ring around the moon.

Lee Ranaldo