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Pasadena Daydream Festival – Brookside at the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) - August 31, 2019

Robert Smith at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
7 September 2019

Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

Thousands of music fans braved the heat last weekend to attend the first Pasadena Daydream Festival. The Cure headlined their own hand-picked the lineup, which included performances by Pixies, Deftones, Throwing Muses, The Joy Formidable, and Mogwai among others.

The venue occupied the rolling fields between the Rose Bowl and Brookside Golf Club, with stages facing each other at opposite ends of the grounds. Scattered trees and tents provided minimal shade for people crowded beneath them to avoid the unforgiving sunlight. A collective sigh of relief could almost be heard when the sun sank mercifully behind the hills at dusk.

The large Oaks stage hosted The Cure, Pixies, Deftones, Mogwai, and The Twilight Sad, with Throwing Muses, The Joy Formidable, Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle, and Kælan Mikla on the smaller Willow stage. While probably a coincidence, it felt weird to see all the female-fronted acts relegated to the second stage, with only the Pixies’ Paz Lenchantin left to break up the main stage boy’s club.

Mogwai at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
Mogwai at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
Mogwai at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
Mogwai at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca

Photos by Cecilia Fonseca

The day kicked off with intense early performances from Kælan Mikla, The Twilight Sad, and Emma Ruth Rundle. Mogwai took the main stage at 3:30 to provide a master class on instrumental dynamics and drone soundscapes. The alternating beauty and chaos of set closer “Mogwai Fear Satan” left minds blown, although it might have been more effective for the band to headline the second stage so they could provide a mood-setting intro to The Cure.

The Joy Formidable at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
The Joy Formidable at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
The Joy Formidable at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca

Photos by Cecilia Fonseca

Next up was the brooding sounds of Chelsea Wolfe on the Willow Stage, followed by the Deftones pummeling their fans with heavy down-tuned riffs on the Oaks stage. The Joy Formidable performed a stand-out set on the second stage, with singer/guitarist Ritzy Bryan bounding across the floor and drummer Matthew James Thomas exaggerating his movements to connect with folks in the back row.

Black Francis at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
Paz Lenchantin at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
Joey Santiago at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
The Pixies at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca

Photos by Cecilia Fonseca

The crowd had swelled considerably by the time The Pixies took the stage and launched into “Gouge Away.” They played a smoking set that gave equal time to pop hits like “Here Comes Your Man” and thrash-punk nuggets like “Isla de Encanta” and “Rock Music.” With three albums completed since their reformation in 2004, there is plenty of new material to choose from, and new song “On Graveyard Hill” is one of the strongest.

Throwing Muses at Pasadena Daydream

Photo Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice

Throwing Muses had the un-enviable time slot between Pixies and The Cure, yet still managed to tear the roof off the second stage. Their two albums since reforming in 2003 are among their best, and we look forward to more L.A. shows from them; meanwhile you can catch Kristin Hersh and her solo band on tour now.

Robert Smith at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca

Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

Finally, it was dark enough for Robert Smith to emerge from a thick cloud of fog and embrace the children of the night. As the throbbing notes of “Plainsong” rang out, Smith walked to each end of the stage and waved to his fans.

Robert Smith at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

The band has a lot to celebrate: along with their recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, it’s also the band’s 40-year anniversary and the 30th anniversary of Disintegration. Smith appeared genuinely grateful to have made a career out of exploring his idiosyncrasies, and the music carried a significant weight.

Robert Smith at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
Robert Smith at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca

Photos by Cecilia Fonseca

The set favored tracks from Disintegration, with a whopping 7 tunes from that album played, and The Cure did a fantastic job of representing their musical evolution throughout the night. Couples swayed to “Just Like Heaven” and “Friday I’m in Love,” goths glared to “Play for Today” and “A Forest,” and hardcore fans gasped when the band launched into “Just One Kiss” from The Walk EP (supposedly the first time this was played on U.S. soil). “A Strange Day” from Pornography would have made a nice addition, but there’s really no criticizing a setlist with this much depth.

Simon Gallup at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca
Reeves Gabrels at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca

Photos by Cecilia Fonseca

It was great to see Smith rocking out with long-time bassist and musical foil Simon Gallup. Each band member had stand-out moments: Guitarist Reeves Gabrels letting rip on the solo in “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea,” keyboardist Roger O’Donnell providing the lush orchestration on the Disintegration material, and drummer Jason Cooper hammering the fills on “Push.”

Smith and company put together a fantastic one-day festival that will hopefully become an annual celebration. Until they return, fans can get their Cure fix with a new double concert video 40 Live.

Robert Smith at Pasadena Daydream by Cecilia Fonseca

Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

The Cure at Pasadena Daydream Festival by Ryan Orvis
The Cure at Pasadena Daydream Festival by Ryan Orvis

Photos by Ryan Orvis