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Turns Out, a Festival Curated by the Cure is Quite a ‘Daydream’ Indeed (Pasadena Daydream Recap)

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Anybody in Southern California knows the absolute hassle that the Rose Bowl can be. So, when Goldenvoice announced a special new event titled the Pasadena Daydream Festival, with an eclectic lineup of acts put together by the Cure, it was surely met in some circles with one reaction: “Sounds awesome, but oh no, the Rose Bowl!”

To be fair, this past Saturday’s Pasadena Daydream event was not located specifically at the Rose Bowl, as it was staged at the adjacent golf course complex, Brookside at the Bowl, its two stages and multiple food/beverage vendors situated across some grassy hills.

Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice

Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice

For those in attendance, it was a great event from start to finish — though it must be mentioned that those arriving in the afternoon and early evening dealt with massive lines and some logistical issues that were no doubt mostly related to the Rose Bowl complex and its … complexities.

Inside, however, the show was consistently fantastic. Despite the temperature languishing in the mid-90s for most of the afternoon until the sun began its descent, the two stages — The Oaks, where the biggest acts played, and The Willow, a tent that provided some welcomed shade for the second tier of acts — hosted intriguing act after intriguing act.

The Twilight Sad (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

The Twilight Sad (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Scottish band The Twilight Sad opened the Oaks stage in the midst of the crushing heat, and some sound issues caused by PA outages didn’t help their set. The band persevered, however, traversing the glitches to turn some heads of those who had gathered early in the afternoon.

After the set, the band tweeted an apology for the technical issues, noting that a pep talk from Robert Smith lifted its spirits a bit afterward:

Emma Ruth Rundle, second up at the Willow stage, was a revelation. A known commodity among indie/rock circles, it was easy to see why she’s garnered so much attention over the past couple of years.

Emma Ruth Rundle (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Emma Ruth Rundle (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Very much a “let the music do the talking,” she kept mostly quiet between songs, but Rundle and her band more than filled the space and time allotment with intriguing song after intriguing song.

Catching each act on the bill made for a bit of walking from one end of the park to the other, but that wasn’t as tough a task as you might think — as it was not a huge, Coachella-like expanse to traverse. And, as mentioned earlier, the shade provided by the Willow tent was a welcome respite from the cruel sun.

Chelsea Wolfe (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Chelsea Wolfe (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Mogwai and Chelsea Wolfe, respectively, provided some mid-afternoon moodiness, the former on the Oaks stage and the latter cramming a whole bunch of folks into the Willow for a gloomy and moving set of songs from throughout her career.

One of the more curious schedule situations at Pasadena Daydream was Deftones performing before the Joy Formidable. They were on separate stages, though, Deftones commanding the day’s biggest crowd to that point, whipping up dust as they slammed through a selection of songs from their versatile career.

Deftones (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Deftones (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Front man Chino Moreno emerged on stage in a white-on-white look, which probably felt good given the otherwise crushing heat, but his band delivered some heat of its own as the musicians showcased just why they’re the living legends they are — far removed from the “nu-metal” scene from which they came in the 1990s to the endlessly intriguing and unique musical force they are today.

As the final seconds of Deftones’ last song reverberated around the fields, Welsh three-piece The Joy Formidable commanded the Willow stage. And “commanded” is exactly what they did.

Vocalist/guitarist Ritzy Bryan, wearing a blue velvet dress out of the excitement she said she felt for the festival, immediately made fun of her fashion decision as it was definitely not well-suited for the heat. That kind of candor is what makes the Joy Formidable such a great live band — well, that and their crushing performances and the dynamic interplay that exists between herself, bassist/vocalist  Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas.

The Joy Formidable (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

The Joy Formidable (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

For 45 minutes, they delighted the packed tent with songs from their now ten-year career, which will be commemorated soon with an anniversary reissue of their 2008 EP, A Balloon Called Moaning.

At this point in the afternoon, the crowd had reached its biggest form — just in time for Pixies to play on the Oaks stage. It was noticeable, though, how many folks were still streaming in from the gate adjacent to the Rose Bowl itself — either arriving late or having dealt with the lines outside to get in.

Pixies (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Pixies (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Either way, Pixies packed the main standing area for their set, which was heavy on hits and the quirky personality that has made the band as iconic as it is.

Throwing Muses, over on the Willow stage after Pixies, sounded great delving through their catalog of gritty, grungy late ’80s and early ’90s material. It was a shame there weren’t more people in the tent watching them, though.

Throwing Muses at Pasadena Daydream (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Throwing Muses at Pasadena Daydream (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

That’s the reality of essentially playing opposite a headliner, as many in attendance were over at the Oaks stage waiting for the Cure’s performance.

The Cure @ Pasadena Daydream (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

The Cure @ Pasadena Daydream (Courtesy of Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

And what a performance it was. I had seen the Cure before, at Coachella in 2011, but this was on another level. For two and a half hours, Robert Smith and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band delighted thousands with nearly all of their hits and classics, plus deep cuts and many more that really showcased the incredible legacy of music that they’ve cultivated over the years.

Smith was lively and engaging as he led the charge with an enthusiasm of a man well younger than his 60 years might suggest, appearing very appreciative of the crowd that was giving back nothing but love.

By the time the Cure was finished, so was Pasadena Daydream — a mostly fantastic experience hampered just slightly by the logistics of the venue itself. It also seemed that a few of the lines — specifically for the merchandise and some food vendors — remained impossibly long for most of the day and night, which can be frustrating for attendees but is ultimately unavoidable in a festival setting.

In its first edition, the Pasadena Daydream Festival worked as a smaller-scale Arroyo Seco, which took place in the same general area a year previous, over an entire weekend rather than a one-day event.

Also, the “Chill-Out Zone,” with piped-in rain and thunder sounds, couches and misters, was an inspired idea.

To that end, it packed in enough entertainment for everybody in attendance, and one of the most intriguing and deep lineups of most other festivals these days.

Seeing the Cure at the top of its game, fresh off a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, was a triumphant spectacle, and for that, I think the Pasadena Daydream Festival was a great success.

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