Sunday, May 21, 2023

Cruel World Festival

Today I attended the Cruel World festival at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, a festival of ’80s bands. The scheduled lineup included Animotion, Berlin, The Vapors, Modern English, Gang of Four, ABC, Gary Numan, Adam Ant, Echo & the Bunnymen, Billy Idol, Love and Rockets, The Human League, Iggy Pop and Siouxsie. This was the most star-studded lineup since Live Aid, especially if you like ‘80s bands, as I do. (Adam Ant canceled but was replaced by Squeeze, who have to be the best understudy since Liza Minelli filled in for Gwen Verdon in Chicago!)

Pundits like August Brown at the Los Angeles Times made the usual old-people jokes (“If you’re a gently graying Anglophile who still can squeeze into leather pants, you’ve likely already bought your tickets.”), but there’s something to be said for nostalgia. In the ‘80s, I was in my twenties, I was in a band that played at CBGB and I even tried my hand at deejaying. I like to say that I have every record that came out in the ’80s, and that’s only a slight exaggeration. And now concert promoters have put together “nostalgia concerts” for every decade (’80s, ’90s, ’00s etc.), so take that, millennials and Gen Zers! On the other hand, some bands do themselves no favors by showing videos of themselves when they were in their twenties, while their middle-aged selves are performing onstage.

Unfortunately, the concert was cut short due to “severe weather” (although it wasn’t raining and I didn’t see any lightning), so Iggy Pop’s set was cut short and Siouxsie didn’t get to perform at all. (There were also several sound outages during Pop’s aborted set.)

I thought it never rained in southern California. Oh, well…

Rose Bowl
Old punks never die, they just move to LA.
The Vapors
70,000 people attended.
Modern English
Gang of Four
Billy Idol
Iggy Pop
The concert was cut short due to "severe weather."

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