Desert Generator Festival Creates a '70s Stoner Rock Paradise
Brant Bjork, co-founder of Desert Generator Festival
During their ‘90s heyday, Kyuss and a slew of other stoner rock bands became known for their legendary generator parties that took place in the greater Palm Desert area. Consisting of people rockin’ hard, guzzling beer and engaging in assorted levels of debauchery, the event was literally powered by gasoline generators for Kyuss to have enough electricity for their show and would have been something at home in Dazed and Confused.
Next week, legions of people descend upon the area for Coachella, and with good reason that doesn’t need further explanation. However, that doesn’t mean the area is barren of good music outside of the two weekends that the proverbial circus rolls into town.
Brant Bjork, along with Josh Homme, helped pioneer those generator parties, is ready to plug in and get the party started again. Inspired by his former band’s epic events, Bjork, along with Ryan Jones (Allnight Allnight Productions) and Matt Grayson from the L.A.-based van publication Rolling Heavy Magazine threw out the idea between six-and-nine months ago to form the first Desert Generator Festival on April 9 at Pappy and Harriet’s.
“I figured why don’t we combine what we like out in the desert and have some fun,” Bjork says.
A veteran of the performing side, this is Bjork’s first foray into planning a real festival. Though the event won’t be the same as those Kyuss events— it’s taking place at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown — the same DIY ethos along with the incorporation of the van culture that became part of the folklore of the generator parties will be on full display. Since the ‘50s, vans, hot rods and rock have had a legacy that has been intertwined. Bjork says that the term generator may not fully be accurate to describe the event, but remains part of the festival’s name to carry on the tradition of what those parties stood for.
Desert Generator Festival will feature a custom van show and performances by stoner rock outfits Red Fang, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Acid King, Golden Void and Ecstatic Vision. There will be stalls for vintage clothing, vinyl records, handmade goods vendors, along with a billing of special guest DJ sets.
“We felt through a general combination of experience, we had enough confidence to say that this was a fantasy that maybe we could turn into a reality,” Bjork says. “I think a big part of those creative endeavors are carrying a spirit of old. Certainly here in Southern California, there’s a spirit of counter culture and we still want to carry that torch. We (Kyuss) were doing that with generator parties. It had an independent punk rock element to it, but the vibe was very much that all wanted to rock, have a good time and party.”
Bjork knew early on in the planning stages that if he wasn’t an expert on a given element, to defer to those who had better knowledge than him. So far, there haven’t been any major snags or problems that have arisen as the festival has come closer to fruition.
Taking place the weekend before Coachella, the duo understood that the timing could be tricky for people planning to head to the mega event. The timing for the Desert Generator Festival was strategic, but there weren’t any direct plans to compete with it. Instead, this event will serve as a reminder that there’s other things to do in the Coachella Valley in April besides hanging out at the Polo Fields.
“I think there’s been a lot of great, cool, innovative things happening in different places and there hasn’t been a synergy thing of people coming together,” Bjork says. “It’s not just one group, it’s a whole culture. We’re not anti what’s going on now, but we’re into this old school thing and we want to keep it alive.”
For full info and tickets on Desert Generator Festival at Pappy and Harriet's on April 9, click here.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.