Brookside Park at the Rose Bowl was Sunday’s destination. I left San Francisco Bay at 4:00am heading south to Pasadena California. The Cruel World festival presented by Goldenvoice was an 1980’s kid’s dream festival. Unfortunately, I was only able to make the second day but, the lineups were the same both days. Most of the bands on this bill are 80’s icons that I have been listening to for the better part of my life. I arrived at about 9:30am, grabbed a quick breakfast and made it to the Rose Bowl by 10:30am. Doors were supposed to open at 11:00am but, unfortunately, didn’t open until 12:00pm or so. Upon entering I realized, this place is huge! There were three stages featured, Outsiders stage, Sad Girls stage and the Lost Boys stage. The weather was a perfect mid 80’s (just like most of the bands haha) with a light breeze. The evening culminated in the best way possible for such an event. A lunar eclipse happened during Bauhaus and Morrissey!
The Outsiders stage bands consisted of The KVB, Automatic, Sextile, Cold Cave, TR/ST, Public Image Ltd, The Church, Devo, Bauhaus, and Morrissey. This was definitely the main stage. Due to the distance and timing of the sets, I missed the first few bands but, while I didn’t get to see them, I for sure heard them.
The first band I caught at this stage was Public Image Ltd. John Lydon was on point as was the rest of the band. They came out with “Public Image” and went straight into “This is not a Love Song” Love or hate Lydon, he is a showman and a great one at that.
Public Image Ltd band members:
John Lydon – lead vocals, keyboards, violin, saxophone
Bruce Smith – drums, percussion, programming, backing vocals
Lu Edmonds – guitar, keyboards, saz, banjo, backing vocals
Scott Firth – bass, keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals
Next up was the Australian band The Church. Opening with “Reptile”, the crowd went crazy and it set the mood for the rest of their set.
The Church band members:
Steve Kilbey – lead vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, guitar
Tim Powles – drums, percussion, backing vocals, guitar
Ian Haug – guitars, backing vocals
Jeffrey Cain – guitars, bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Ashley Naylo – guitars
Devo was next. Man, I am sure glad I got to see them. Opening with :Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)” and heading right into “Peek-a-Boo”. On the LED screens, they played the videos behind them as they performed their hits live.
Devo band members:
Gerald Casale – Bass, Vocals
Mark Mothersbaugh – Keyboards, Vocals
Bob Mothersbaugh – Guitar, Vocals
Josh Freese – Drums
Josh Hager – Guitar, Keyboards
Next up, the iconic, Bauhaus. Seeing Bauhaus life was a dream come true. Not just for me but, I think pretty much everyone there. “Double Dare” was their first song accompanied with full on strobe lights. Every song they played was perfectly executed.
Bauhaus band members:
Daniel Ash – guitar, saxophone
Peter Murphy – vocals, occasional instruments
Kevin Haskins – drums
David J – bass
Finally, the ever controversial Morrissey was up. The crowd was huge and totally into it. Coming out on stage in a dark suit, he opened with “Irish Blood, English Heart”. The highlight for me was he played “How Soon is Now” and three other Smiths songs. I will say, I saw him in the early 90’s and he may be better live now.
Morrissey band members:
Morrissey – lead vocals
Alain Whyte – guitar
Jesse Tobias – guitar
Juan Galeano Torro – bass
Matt Walker – drums
Gustavo Manzur – keyboards
Sad Girls stage
Soft Kill was up first. While I was unfamiliar with them, they put on a really good set and got the growing crowd going. Tobias worked the stage like a seasoned veteran. These guys are going places.
Soft Kill band members:
Tobias Sinclair – Guitar, Vocals
Owen Glendower – Bass, Keyboards
Conrad Vollmer – Guitar
Maximillion Avila – Drums
Next up was Black Marble. Again, I was not familiar with them coming in but their version of indie rock was well received by both myself and the audience.
Black Marble band members:
Chris Stewart – vocals, bass, guitar, synthesizer
As the day started to heat up, so did the stage. The English Beat hit the stage and had everyone skanking in no time. I have been trying to see them for years and this was the day. The Ska legends killed this set and if anyone in the crowd didn’t know what Ska was before, they do now. Busting straight in to “Ranking Full Stop”, this hit filled set was a dream come true. With songs like The Staple Singers “I’ll Take You There”, General Public’s “Tenderness” added to their set, they left the audience craving more.
The English Beat band members:
Dave Wakeling – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Matt Morrish – Sax/Vocals
Kevin Lum – Keys/Vocals
Minh Quan – Keys/Vocals
Brad Engstrom – Bass/Vocals
Antonee First Class – Toaster
Fritz Zar – Drums/Vocals
London After Midnight were up next and really pulled the goth crowd over to this stage. Opening with “Kiss”, the audience exploded from the first note. Even with the rising heat, London After Midnight kept everyone glued to their spot.
London After Midnight band members:
Sean Brennan – founder, songwriting, musician on all albums, vocals, guitar, bass, cello, violin, keyboards, programming, drums
Pete Pace – drums
Michael Areklett – bass
Jeremy Kohnmann – guitar
No setlist available
Blaqk Audio hit the stage next. This two person band consisted of a DJ and singer Davey Havok. Davey made use of every bit of the large stage and then some. He even utilized the risers in front of the stage as well as the isle out to the soundboard to get even closer to the ever growing crowd.
Blaqk Audio band members:
Davey Havok – lead vocals, lyricist
Jade Puget – keyboard, synthesizer, backing vocals, composer
1). Stiff Kittens
2). A Distant Light
3). OK, Alex
4). Cities of Night
5). Dark Times at the Berlin Wall
6). Semiotic Love
When The Damned came out, the goth presence was in full effect. I had only seen The Damned once before in the early 90’s and it was so great to finally get to see them again. The only downside was that Captain Sensible couldn’t make the US dates. Hitting the stage with “Wait For The Blackout”, The Damned hits just kept coming.
The Damned band members:
Dave Vanian (David Lett) – lead vocals
Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns) – guitar, backing vocals , keyboards, bass
Paul Gray – guitar, bass, backing vocals
Monty Oxymoron (Laurence Burrow) – keyboards, backing vocals
Live members for current reunion tour
Brian James (Brian Robertson) – guitar, backing vocals
Rat Scabies (Christopher Millar) – drums, backing vocals
The Violent Femmes were about as opposite as you could get from The Damned. The acoustic Violent Femmes have been a listening staple for me for 30+ years and this was the first time I have seen them live. Coming out with “Add It Up”, they hooked me, and the everyone else, right in.
The Violent Femmes band members:
Gordon Gano – lead vocals, guitars, violin, banjo
Brian Ritchie – bass, backing vocals, guitars, shakuhachi, xylophone, keyboards
Blaise Garza – saxophones, percussion, backing vocals
John Sparrow – drums, percussion, backing vocals
The Psychedelic Furs are one of those bands that define the 80’s. The iconicness (is that even a word?) of this band is virtually unsurpassed. Opening with “The Boy That Invented Rock N Roll” They soon visited all of their 80’s soundtrack hits and brought back all of those VHS memories.
The Psychedelic Furs band members:
Richard Butler – Vocals
Tim Butler – Bass
Mars Williams – Saxophone
Amanda Kramer – Vocals, Keyboards
Rich Good – Guitar
Zack Alford – Drums
While, unfortunately, Blondie shut down all the photographers, I did get to hear most of her set. Debbie Harry and the band sounded amazing. It was so cool to hear some of my favorite Blondie songs live.
Blondie band members:
Debbie Harry– Vocals
Chris Stein – Guitar
Clem Burke – Drums
Matt Katz-Bohen – Keyboards
Tommy Kessler– Guitar
Lost Boys stage
The Psychobilly legends The Meteors were up first. These guys are so much fun! Being one of the originators of the genre puts a lot of expectations on a band and they lived up to it and more.
The Meteors band members:
P. Paul Fenech – Guitar, Vocals
Wolfgang Hordemann – Drums
Hendrik Corleone – Bass
Christian Death was up next. My favorite incarnation of this band will always be with Rozz Williams but, since he’s no longer with us in this world, Valor Kand it is. That being said, he is an awesome front man and the band was on point every song. I really want to see them again soon with a full set so I can get my fill.
Christian Death band members:
Valor Kand – Guitar, Vocals
KOTA – Keyboard and Agitator
Chuck – Guitar
Maitri – Bass
Pao – Drums
45 Grave is a band I have been listening to since high school in the 80’s. Totally worth the wait! This performance was everything my teenage self would have hoped for. Every song was great and their set was solid.
45 Grave band members:
Dinah Cancer – vocals
Tom Coyne – drums
Brandden Blackwell – bass
Dylan Thomas – guitars
1). Insurance From God
2). Night Of The Demons
3). Dream Hits
5). Riboflavin-Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood (Don Hinson and the Rigamorticians cover)
7). Surf Bat
Missing Persons was the last band I caught on this stage. Dale Bozzio’s slayed her performance and the rest of the band kept right up. I don’t know why it took me so long to see them but, I am glad I finally did.
Missing Persons band members:
Dale Bozzio – vocals
Fred Bensi – keyboard, synthesizers
Karl D’Amico – guitar
Prescott Niles – bass
Andy Sanesi – drums
In conclusion, this was the best festival I have been to since the first Lollapalooza in 1991. Every band I heard and watched were stellar. Not a one of them “called it in”. The lineup was amazing. The crowd was energetic and enthusiastic. The lines for everything were quite long but, I guess that is to be expected with so many in attendance. I will say, the merch booth was very well organized and the line, surprisingly, moved very quickly. The staff overall was very helpful and readily available to help if asked. My only regret is that I only went on Sunday. If they have another one and I get to cover it, I will be attending both days. I regret not catching all the bands but, it was just not possible in just one day. I do hope to catch the bands I missed out on the road this summer during their individual tours. If they have it again, I would 10/10 would recommend it to any fans of 80′ new wave and goth music.
Some of the performances that didn’t get covered due to time and distance.
TR/ST band members
Robert Alfons – Vocals
Lia Braswell – Drums
Esther Blue – keyboards
Cold Cave band members:
Wesley Eisold – Vocals
Amy Lee – live performer, photographer, videographer, and designer.
Nils Bue – Guitar
Ryan McMahon – Drums
Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel band members:
Jay Aston – Guitar, Vocals
James Stevenson – Guitar
Peter Rizzo – Bass
Chris Bell – Drums
Berlin band members:
Terri Nunn – Vocals
John Crawford – Bass
David Diamond – Keyboards
Dave Schulz – Keyboards
Carlton Bost – Guitar
Ric “Rocc” Roccapriore – Drums
Drab Majesty band members:
Deb Demure (Andrew Clinco) – Vocals, Guitar, percussion
Mona D (Alex Nicolaou) – Keyboards, vocals
Sextile band members:
Brady Keehn – Guitar, Vocals
Melissa Scaduto – drums, Vocals
Automatic band members:
Izzy Glaudini – synths, lead vocals
Lola Dompé – drums, vocals
Halle Saxon – bass, vocals
The KVB band members:
Nicholas Wood – Vocals, multiple instruments
Kat Day – Keyboards, Vocals
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Photographer of about 10 years, I have been shooting concerts for about 8 of those years. I started to get serious about concert photography about 6 or 7 years ago and now try to shoot as many as I can. I shoot mostly rock but, have done some country and big band stuff. I love music and since I am nowhere close to being a musician, this is a way I can be a small part of what, in the words of Henry Rollins, “gets me through the highs, the lows and everything in between”.