PASADENA’S CRUEL WORLD FESTIVAL DELIGHTS WITH A HOST OF EIGHTIES GOTHIC NOSTALGIA

PASADENA’S CRUEL WORLD FESTIVAL DELIGHTS WITH A HOST OF EIGHTIES GOTHIC NOSTALGIA

Not even the 95-degree heat could stop the beat or the fun at the first Cruel World Fest.


Last weekend kicked off the first Cruel World Festival held by Goldenvoice. A music powerhouse behind many of the biggest annual California festivals like Stagecoach and Coachella. Cruel World Fest had thousands partying into the night to eighties icons like Bauhaus, Morrissey (yes, that Morrissey), Devo, Missing Persons, Blondie, The Church, Berlin, The Psychedelic Furs, English Beat, and many more.

Morrissey performs at Cruel World Festival

Held in Pasadena at the Brookside Park and Golf Course in Pasadena, so the heat was an issue, but otherwise, the two-day eighties goth oasis was an exhilarating blast from the past. It was also a day or two to be grateful, enjoying the sun, the music, any new friends made, and the vibes. After all, it has been a difficult and trying two and half years. Even though there were a few fest hiccups like Echo and the Bunnymen dropping out or your garden variety festival hiccups. It was sure to be an event for the ages and truly an event for Alternative and classic Alternative music lovers.

Living legends at the Cruel World Festival anchored by many next wave acts or niche artists of the time. Like The KVB, a husband and wife duo with a penchant for 90s melancholy via Shoegaze guitar rhythms, neon 80s synths, and dark melodies for ages. Despite the somewhat penchant for dark and brooding music, the duo was so lovely in my chat with them (that will be out soon). Solo artist TR/ST brought his vibe of sin-soaked angsty synth beats much to the surprise and delight of many. You also had your underground mainstays like Cold Cave and my faves Blaqk Audio, with each band garnering super loyal and supportive fanbases. They each brought a unique sense of new-age sleekness and style that the newer brand of goth-tinged synth-rock or pop showcase.

For me, and no doubt so many others, there was no question that Bauhaus stole the show. A magical feeling was prominent in the air as the moon was high. Bauhaus set the scene from the beginning with a fog machine to heavy strobe lights. The audience was feverish by the time Peter Murphy‘s booming baritone rang out. Singing through a catalog of Bauhaus classics like ‘She’s In Parties’ and the obvious crowd fave, ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. It was a night to remember one perfectly accented by the elusive (and perhaps reclusive?) Morrissey. His vocals are as dramatic as ever, from every ad-lib, yelp, and yodel.

The crowd clung to every word as many of them had grabbed barricade spots way early in the day, standing for hours. Other highlights were Berlin, lead vocalist Terri Nunn’s crowd interaction was like no other, Automatic, The Church, Missing Persons, and Devo. While I missed the chance to photograph every band like I wanted to, the heat that day was more than I expected. You can check out my photo galleries from the festival below. I had a great time, as did many other fans of all ages. So, closing out, I’ll see you at Cruel World 2023 and, yes, that means you too, Bunnymen





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