We didn’t get Woodstock this summer, but we did get ”Bobstock.”
The Cure’s singer Robert Smith served as both curator and main draw at Pasadena Daydream on Saturday (Aug. 31) in Pasadena, Calif. The one-day festival featured the British legends as headliners, with Smith handpicking the supporting line-up, which was spread across two stages at the Brookside golf course, next to the world famous Rose Bowl.
Thousands of black-clad acolytes braved the brutal late-August heat to see the Cure deliver a career-spanning set, and watch the bands they inspired with their seminal work.
Here are six highlights from the biggest goth gathering of the summer.
The Twilight Sad Make Something From Nothing
”Good afternoon Pasadena, it’s a perfect afternoon for some miserable Scottish music,” deadpanned Twilight Sad singer James Graham during their early-afternoon set. To say that his fine Glaswegian crew were out of their element would be an understatement. Not only is the melancholic, Joy Division-inspired sound best experienced on drizzly Tuesday nights, they were further hampered by sound problems. And yet, against all the odds, the quintet managed to make an impact with their brooding 30-minute set, which peaked with the sublime “I’m Not Here [missing face].” The Twilight Sad were floundering for a moment, but emerged with a small triumph in unlikely circumstances.
Mogwai Bring the Noise
For almost a quarter of a century, Mogwai have rarely been anything other than a reliably brilliant live band, and so it remains. The Glaswegians (who were also part of the Smith-organized Curiosa tour lineup in 2004) turned in a lean, mean 45 minutes, featuring a superb version of the Kraftwerk-doting “Remurdered,” and culminating in the always stunning 1997 classic “Mogwai Fear Satan” — a song that still sounds like a blissful, noise-rock passageway to another world.
Deftones Do California Proud
As temperatures peaked at a leather-jacket-melting 95 degrees, Deftones arrived and sparked the first mosh pit of the day, with singer Chino Moreno happily egging the crowd on to defy the heat and let loose. Even though they hail from Northern California, the alt-metal outfit were received as local heroes and put on a pulverizing performance that matched their status. Moreno wheeled around the stage during a hectic “Knife Party” and his band flexed so hard during “Hole in the Earth,” it sounded like they were about to create exactly that. Turned out that Pasadena Daydream needed a few screams from Sacramento to get things going.
Pixies Play to the Crowd
In September, Pixies are due to release their seventh album, Beneath the Eyrie. But relatively few members of the crowd came to hear the new stuff — and the band know that. They remain diligent in doing justice to their revered catalogue; whether it’s the carnal pound of “Bone Machine,” the spiraling riffs of “Caribou,” or the full-throttle cover of the Jesus And Mary Chain’s ”Head On,” they hit the main points of interest on the nail. Singer Frank Black (who’s slicked hair and shades makes him look not unlike a late-’90s Jack Nicholson) said precisely nothing between songs, but when you can scream the lyrics to ”Debaser” as hard as he does, why bother with the chit chat?
Throwing Muses Throw It Back
One of Pasadena Daydream’s rarest treats was a set by Throwing Muses at the smaller Willows stage. Although her band have been inactive for the past five years, singer Kristin Hersh still performs solo regularly. As a result, the frontwoman has maintained the visceral growl that made the one-time 4AD band such a unique and enticing proposition during the ‘80s and ‘90s. While performing “Devil’s Roof” and “Bright Yellow Gun,” Hersh bellowed her vocals with an astonishing, guttural force, while fixing her trademark stare to the back of the tent as if sending daggers to an unseen enemy. It’s a combination that’s every bit as hypnotic and unsettling as it always was.
The Cure Play All the Showstoppers
It doesn’t matter how much you love the early stuff, or how deep you can dive into their ocean of rarities and B-sides, there isn’t a Cure fan alive that doesn’t want to hear a set heavy on Disintegration numbers, and a smattering of the hits. Ever since marking their 40th anniversary in London last summer, that’s essentially what the band have been delivering all over the world, and Pasadena Daydream was no different. Smith’s voice is still pristine and he sang classics such as “Just Like Heaven” and “A Night Like This” with the kind of feel and flow he captured on the original recordings. But it’s the encore that saw the Cure produce pure pop magic. Unencumbered by his guitar, Smith turned partyman, dancing around the stage while cheerfully delivering “Friday, I’m in Love,” “Close to Me,” and “Why Can’t I Be You?” ”I’d just like to say it’s been the best day of summer,” he said, addressing his daydream nation, before bidding them farewell. It’s hard to disagree; “Bobstock” was indeed a ball.