The sizzling, southern California sun shone down brightly on August 31st for the most highly-anticipated festival of the summer season. To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Cure’s Hyde Park show in London, The Pasadena Daydream Festival was born. With the lineup handpicked by The Cure’s Robert Smith himself, the day was sure to please. The Brookside Park at the famous Pasadena Rose Bowl, transformed into a sea of fans, young and old, donning a plethora of decades-old tour shirts in anticipation of seeing the greatly famous bands of yesteryear that were set to perform, as well as welcome new bands to the scene.
To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Cure’s Hyde Park show in London, The Pasadena Daydream Festival was born.
The vast, grassy grounds were set up with two stages to house the 10 bands that were set to perform. The side Willow Stage was a popular one, due in part to the tent that saved fans from the blistering sun. But, it also hosted some of the most influential female bands in the business. The femme Icelandic trio of Kaelan Mikla celebrated the release of their new album Nott Etfir Nott with their eclectic sounds. With sublime vocals and stellar stage presence, visual artist and musician Emma Ruth Rundle, in support of her recent release On Dark Horses, was joined on stage by husband Evan Patterson, completing her captivating and mesmerizing set.
To help celebrate the release of the new album It Won’t Be Like This All the Time, the Scottish indie rock/post punk band The Twilight Sad opened the afternoon on The Oak main stage. Despite sound issues, the group proved they are a force to be reckoned with, playing fan favorites like “There’s a Girl in the Corner”. Continuing the Scottish feels of the day, Mogwai entertained fans in the dead of heat with their post-rock sound, with songs like their 1997 classic “Mogwai Fear Satan”.
Back in the shade of The Willow Stage, Chelsea Wolfe and The Joy Formidable brought the crowds in droves. With fans spilling out of the tent to catch a glimpse of these two amazing bands, Wolfe shared her gothy side, including the song “Feral Love” and “16 Psyche”. The Joy Formidable then kept the energy pumping and fans entertained in the sweltering weather.
As attendees hiked back to The Oak Stage through the VIP area, Mike Dimt (of Green Day) and actor/actress couple Geoffrey Arend and Christina Hendricks were spotted enjoying the day as Deftones took to the stage. With temperatures nearly hitting triple digits, the band kicked up the very first mosh pit of the day, getting the crowd going with fan favorite songs like “Hole in the Earth”. Chino Moreno expressed to the swelling crowd “I’m way happier to be here than you are”, noting how honored the band felt to be a part of the day.
Lady Gaga celebrated side stage, noting on her Instagram: “When music is magic”.
Back at The Willow Stage, Kristin Hersh led Throwing Muses through a transcendental set with her mad frontwoman skills and powerful vocals. The band made it difficult to tell if the stage was on fire from the performance or the insane heat of the day, performing songs such as “Devil’s Roof” and “Bright Yellow Gun”. Fans were so enthused to see the band, oftentimes overwhelming Hersh, as they sang along word for word.
In high anticipation of the release of their new album Beneath the Eyrie, Pixies fans were out in full force, ready to bask in their glory. Satisfying all, the band launched into “Gouge Away” and nailed a cover of “Head On” by The Jesus and Mary Chain. Teasing fans with a taste of new music, they played “Catfish Kate” and “Birds of Prey” from their upcoming album. And, you know it wouldn’t be a Pixies set without Joey Santiago’s guitar solo antics, playing with his flat cap on the renowned song, “Where Is My Mind”.
As the scorching California sun set behind the rolling Pasadena hillside, thousands of fans packed the grounds surrounding The Oaks Stage. The excitement of the day culminated, with a crowd vibrating intensely. The lights came on and smoke filled the stage as the sounds of the Disintegration opener “Plainsong” filled the air. With so many faithful fans and years of touring, The Cure sets out every time to surprise fans with firsts. This time around, it was the novel performance in the U.S. of “Just One Kiss”. Lady Gaga celebrated side stage, noting on her Instagram: “When music is magic”. 60-year-old Smith’s voice was as crisp and clear as his 20-year-old self, as he nailed fan favorites like “Just Like Heaven” and “A Night Like This”, bringing older fans back to the days of their youth. The evening reminded us exactly why The Cure was recently inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
After mesmerizing the crowd for nearly two hours and 20 songs, closing with Disintegration as it all started, Smith and band returned to the stage to inform the crowd “here’s 30 minutes of popular music” as the band launched into “Lullaby”. Sans guitar, Smith spent the encore dancing around the stage engaging with the audience, even singing a bit of the Pixies “Where Is My Mind” before playing “Friday, I’m In Love” to ecstatic fans. With such a vast library of songs to pull from, The Cure did not disappoint with their two-and-a-half hour, 27-song set.
Despite the long wait to get in, the sweltering heat and the 6+ miles walking that day, Pasadena Daydream accomplished what it set out to do. With an insane lineup, never seen before altogether, Robert Smith expressed in a festival what most New Wave lovers were thinking — “F*cking excellent.”
Photography courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice