Cruel World 2023: A Report from the Front

Siouxsie at the Cruel World Festival 2023. Photo by Deb Smith.

Cruel World 2023, with a stellar line-up of new wave, punk, and goth 80’s bands, came to Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena on May 20th. Headliners included Siouxsie, Iggy Pop, Billy Idol, Love and Rockets, Echo and the Bunnymen, Human League and many more great bands from what was arguably the best decade of music from these genres.  The crowd was said to be 70,000 strong including fans from California and around the world.

The bands did not disappoint, playing their best hits as well as new or little-known work.  As I arrived, I listened to the Vapors singing “I think I’m turning Japanese.”  Shortly thereafter, the Gang of Four played “I love a Man in Uniform.”  “I’ll Stop the World and Melt with You” by Modern English was also a big hit with the crowd.  Not everyone knows how much of a pioneer Gary Numan was in electronic and industrial music.  In addition to his hits, like “Cars,” he played a lot of his industrial-styled music which this industrial music lover enjoyed immensely. Billy Idol also gave a strong performance as did his amazing guitarist, Steve Stevens, who performed some spectacular solo work.

One of the really fun extras at Cruel World was Club Doom, a dance club at the venue that largely played industrial music from a number of DJs, including some from Wax Trax records.  We went a few times there for a dance or two with like- minded fans.

It was about an hour away from the end of this marathon 10-hour concert when an announcement came over the various speakers that we all had to evacuate the venue due to the likelihood of severe thunderstorms in the area. All 70,000 of us, mostly in disbelief, poured out into the parking lot. Human League and Iggy Pop were early into their sets and Siouxsie had yet to perform. Everyone was so disappointed.

The next day, we awoke to hear that Gary Numan, Iggy Pop and Siouxsie were coming back to play Sunday night!  Everyone was elated, other than the folks who had to catch planes and head home and would miss out on this second opportunity to see another set – – especially by Siouxsie who had not performed in 15 years and would not be performing anywhere else in North America in 2023.

Siouxsie gave an excellent and lengthy performance, singing right up to 10:00, the curfew for the venue.  A big thanks to the bands, Goldenvoice, and the venue for allowing fans to have this second chance on Sunday to finish the festival.  The debates are already happening about who will be performing at Cruel World 2024.  Many of the big names performed this year and at Cruel World 2022.  We will see next spring.  Maybe a year for industrial bands? I have a list.

This entry was posted in Events, Music and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply