photo by Alex Stover
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Another Wasteland Weekend for the post-apocalyptic history books
California City, CA – September 26th, 2016
Something has been growing in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. An annual pop-up post-apocalyptic city straight out of a Mad Max movie, packed with costumed revelers, live music, and modified cars. Wasteland Weekend, now in its seventh year, took place September 22nd – 25th, 2016.
The four-day post-apocalyptic party began in 2010 and has seen steady growth each year. For 2016, it was a sellout crowd of over two and a half thousand people. Word of mouth from both veteran attendees and newcomers alike pegged this year’s event as the most successful ever.
“Our post-apocalyptic fan community just knocked it out of the park this year” says Wasteland Event Director and Co-Owner Jared Butler. “We had already been seeing growth each year both in attendance and what everyone builds” (fans coming to the event often form “tribes” and build elaborate themed camps and vehicles to go with their costumes) “but the incredible quality and inspiring creativity has really reached another level now”.
“We’re careful to control our growth each year so that the immersive quality of the event can be maintained at a high level” says Adam Chilson, the other half of Wasteland ownership and the event’s Chief Of Operations as well as its Art Director. Unlike nearly any other music & arts festival, Wasteland requires all attendees to be in some kind of post-apocalyptic costume at all times (even members of the media). The idea has been to create a party where every fan is also a participant, rather than just a spectator.
Wasteland Weekend has always been a fan-made event. While the mostly-volunteer event staff erects some large set pieces and infrastructure, much of the atmosphere comes from what attendees create and bring themselves, often working with their tribe for the entire off-season on their cars, costumes, and campsites. Some of them obsessively embrace “screen accuracy,” creating images that even George Miller admits have briefly fooled him into thinking he was looking at stills from one of his films. Other attendees take the general theme and give it their own interpretation. “The amount of skill and imagination out there when it comes to repurposing discarded objects and rusted metal is just amazing,” says Chilson, “and we’re proud that we’ve helped create a venue for people to showcase it all.”
In keeping with the automotive themes in Mad Max films, one of the clearest displays of this repurposed rust is in the vehicles that are brought to the event. This year, Wasteland Weekend featured upwards of 150 customized, fan-built Mad Max-style cars and motorcycles, driven out from all over the continent, some owners convoying thousands of miles to show off their creations in the temporary desert city. And the “Wasteland Car” craze has spread beyond the festival. Wasteland World (the organization that puts on the Weekend) just held their first annual post-apocalyptic-themed car show in Los Angeles and they were recently featured on Jay Leno’s Garage.
Some of the Wasteland cars lined up for judging. Photo by Shotbyjonny.
Custom car legend Gene Winfield helps judge the post-apocalyptic vehicle contest (photo by Alex Stover)
The cars are just one aspect of the wild weekend. Wasteland has multiple activities day and night, from bounty hunting games, to fire performers, to a full lineup of live bands, to the Thunderdome (the event has again partnered with San Francisco-based Death Guild to bring out their famous fighting Dome straight from the Burning Man playa).
Fighting in the Death Guild Thunderdome. Photo by Shotbyjonny.
Music is a major aspect of the event. As the sun sets, bands from all over the world play on the flame-spewing main stage, with an emphasis on hard hitting genres like punk, hard rock, and metal, while a separate dance area called The Pit features DJs spinning music around a giant bonfire. “Wasteland Weekend was so much more than just another festival. The amazing feeling of community and extraordinary camaraderie has forged strong friendships.” Says Ines Lehmann of the British band V2A, who made their US debut performing at the event. Lead singer Kevin Stewart continued, “Nowhere else could you possibly find such a unique apocalyptic experience. Our problem now is how to explain Wasteland to our friends… it just has to be experienced!”
Outside interest in the event has been increasing, on Saturday night, the announcement was made from the main stage that a Wasteland UK event was already in the planning stages. “Slowly but surely, you Wastelanders will all take over the world”, Butler told the crowd.
Wasteland Weekend took place September 22nd – 25th, 2016 in California City, CA
Many photos and video for media available by request. Photos below are cleared for use by media, provided photographers’ names are credited.
photo by Jeff Vaillancourt
photos by Keri Kilgo
photo by Johanclicks
photo by Chad Michael Ward
photo of performer Jason Charles Miller by Thomas Kern
photos by Fantasies Muse Photography
photo by Thomas Kerns
V2A performs Saturday night. Photos by Alex Stover.
photos by Alex Stover
photos by Cormac Kehoe
photos by Shotbyjonny
photo by Christine Shea
photos by Kevin Hsu