Cruel World Festival Delivers Massive Music Power

The Cruel World Festival returned May 20 and 21, for a second year in a row, delivering massive excitement and power, creating great memories that will last music fans a lifetime. The festival featured bands including Billy Idol, Siouxsie, and Iggy Pop among more.

Billy Idol performs live at Cruel World Festival 2023. Photo Credit: Ariel Goldberg @Goldberghourphotos, provided with kind courtesy of Goldenvoice.
Billy Idol performs live at Cruel World Festival 2023. Photo Credit: Ariel Goldberg @Goldberghourphotos, provided with kind courtesy of Goldenvoice.

Cruel World Festival Fans

Nearly 100,000 rock fans traveled from around the world, to Brookside at the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, California May 20, to see one of the largest indie music festivals on the planet: The Cruel World Festival. Fans were blown away by a massive 25 artists on 3 stages. Headliners included Siouxsie of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Iggy Pop of Iggy and the Stooges, and Billy Idol of Generation X, whose early punk band name alone went on to be used to literally define a generation.

Music lovers were treated to incredible shows by iconic bands that have influenced listeners and other bands for decades. The Cruel World Festival also included merch booths, a VIP area, and a stunning view amidst palm trees and mountains on a beautiful golf course, nestled between rows of mansions in the hills of Pasadena, California.

After the global shutdown cancelled earlier plans of the festival, it launched officially last year with a bang. Morrissey, Bauhaus, and many more played during the initial launch of the festival, to great success. This was therefore just the second Cruel World Festival, and it surpassed all expectations, which seemed impossibly high to begin with, considering such a phenomenal lineup.

The Cruel World Festival was organized by FKOA (Fat Kid of America), and AEG’s legendary Goldenvoice, and included three stages with top stars from the punk, gothic, and new wave-music scene from the late 70’s and 80’s.


Siouxsie and Iggy Pop headlined. Billy Idol, electronic pioneer Gary Numan, Love and Rockets (featuring David J and Daniel Ash of Bauhaus), Echo and the Bunnymen, and Modern English also led.

Other artists included punk legends Gang of Four, as well as Squeeze, and the new wave legends of Animotion, The Vapors, Human League, Berlin, and ABC. Newer darkwave, new-wave, and electronic acts also included Boy Harsher, Aurat, Riki, Gvllow, Glass Spells, Twin Tribes, Ella Minus, Urban Heat, Soft Moon, Molchat Doma, and Boy Harsher.

The festival also featured a pop-up dance floor, spun by Club Doom Dave.

Before Iggy Pop’s set was even half way in, The Pasadena Fire Department reportedly ordered the Cruel World Festival to be shut down, after allegedly observing a little lightning in what was a nearly perfectly clear sky. After the Pasadena Fire Department, and essentially the City of Pasadena-who owns Brookside at the Rose Bowl- forcibly ended the show, fans sadly left Brookside at the Rose Bowl without seeing most of Iggy’s set, and completely missed headliner Siouxsie. A call to the Pasadena Fire Department by Hollywood Sentinel for comment on Monday May 22, was ignored.

Cruel World Festival / Goldenvoice kindly rescheduled a second date for the festival on May 21, even though the early closure was not their fault. The second festival night included another set from Gary Numan, a full hour long set from Iggy Pop, and an extended 90 minute set by Siouxsie, which was all amazing.

All of the bands at Cruel World Festival were great. Iggy Pop sounded excellent, performing many classics including The Siouxsie and the Banshees cover “The Passenger,” as well as Stooges classics including “Raw Power” and “I Wanna’ Be Your Dog.”

Dazzling The Crowd

Billy Idol dazzled the crowd with his legendary look, sound, and style on stage, belting out classic hits including “White Wedding,” “Dancing With Myself,” Cradle of Love,” and “Flesh for Fantasy” among others. After scolding the Pasadena Fire Department for pulling the plug on her performance Saturday night, Siouxsie pleased the crowd with classic hits including “Christine,” Spellbound” and “Kiss Them for Me” among more.

Despite the setback incurred the first night, with the forced early closure due to a poor decision from the City of Pasadena, the Cruel World Festival was still a great success. Some fans who at first misdirected their frustrations and blamed the promoter, ended up thanking Goldenvoice and the Cruel World Festival for going far beyond what others would do in the music industry in similar circumstances.

Music News

In other music news in LA, Finneas plays the Belasco June 2. Also June 2, Mareax plays the Fonda.

The Cure plays the United Center in Chicago June 10, and Clan of Xymox plays the Regent on the 16th.

Nocturna happens with Adult at the Metro in Chicago on June 17, and Tears for Fears play Madison Square Garden in NYC on June 26.

Lastly, the Cure play the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on May 29, and then July 1 at Kaseya Center in Miami.

Visit Hollywood Sentinel (only the good news!) for further music and entertainment coverage and photos from Cruel World Festival, including an exclusive interview out later this month with Urban Heat, who just recently played the Cruel World Festival, as well as Clock DVA, who played the Substance Festival last October.