The Cure play Pasadena Daydream on Saturday. (Courtesy Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

Robert Smith waited until The Cure’s last song to render his own verdict on Pasadena Daydream, his hand-picked 10-band festival that took over the sprawling golf course next to the Rose Bowl under a scorching Southern California sun on Saturday.

“It’s been the best day of the summer,” Smith said, declaring the whole experience “fucking excellent.”

He wasn’t wrong, judging by the rapturous response from the more than 25,000 fans who took in the 9-hour festival, which also featured performances by Pixies, Throwing Muses, Deftones, Mogwai, The Joy Formidable and more. By the time The Cure played, the crowd stretched far enough back that the video screens on each side of the stage, let alone the band itself, were hard to see.

The Cure capped the festival with a scorching 2-hour-and-15-minute, 27-song headlining set that spanned much of its 40-year career. While it didn’t stray from the sets the band has been playing at European festivals this summer — there were no surprises — it did offer a cross-section of the band’s contrasting styles, from churning darkness to effervescent pop.

Highlights included a yearning “Last Dance,” the one-two Seventeen Seconds punch of “Play for Today” into “A Forest,” and incendiary rockers “Burn” and “Never Enough.” Plus, attendees were treated to the first-ever U.S. performance of “Let’s Go to Bed” B-side “Just One Kiss.” In fact, The Cure’s only misstep came toward the end of the main set, with a momentum-stalling airing of Bloodflowers’ sludgy “39.”

But it’s hard to overstate how tight the band’s current lineup is, with Reeves Gabrels — who came on board in 2012 — bringing both fireworks and a jack-of-all-trades versatility to his role as guitarist, playing alongside Smith himself and long-running bassist Simon Gallup, the band’s sonic anchor on so many of its best songs. Add to that Roger O’Donnell’s majestic keyboards — give that man a proper showcase, like “Homesick” — and powerhouse drummer Jason Cooper.

Belying his popular image, Smith appeared ebullient throughout the set, doing little dances, trading smiles with his bandmates and very clearly having a great time — something that wasn’t lost on the crowd.

The Cure was preceded on the main stage by the Pixies, which famously shared the bill with the headliners and Love and Rockets at select stadium dates on 1989’s Prayer Tour. (It’s worth noting, there were a lot of tattered Prayer Tour T-shirts in attendance Saturday.) Black Francis and Co. put on a roaring, crowd-pleasing set of vintage favorites (“Debaser,” “Where is My Mind?,” “Bone Machine,” “Gouge Away”) and newer songs, including tracks from the band’s upcoming seventh album Beneath the Eyrie. (Smith would later pay tribute to the Pixies, quoting “Where is My Mind?” to begin “Friday I’m in Love.”)

Between the Pixies’ and Cure’s sets, Throwing Muses headlined the smaller second stage, one of only a handful of performances by the college-rock mainstays this summer — the band’s first shows in five years. Kristin Hersh and her bandmates dazzled with a set both loose and fierce that drew heavily on the band’s University era, but included music newer and older.

The Muses deserved a bigger crowd, though. It was one of the few drawbacks, outside of the massively long entry lines outside the Rose Bowl, of the festival: there was no time buffer between the performances on the two stages, which were quite far apart. That meant — for example — fans needed to leave the Pixies’ set early to catch the beginning of Throwing Muses’ performance, and then had to leave that early, too, if they had any hope of hearing the opening chimes of “Plainsong.”

All told, though, Pasadena Daydream was, as Smith put it, “fucking excellent,” including outstanding early sets by Mogwai and The Joy Formidable, and a crowd-favorite appearance by Deftones, who, judging solely by the T-shirts dotting the crowd, drew the second-largest fanbase to the Rose Bowl’s golf course.

Below, check out more photos, the Cure’s setlist and full fan-shot video of the Cure’s performance.

 

WATCH: The Cure’s full Pasadena Daydream set

 

Setlist: The Cure, Pasadena Daydream Festival, Pasadena, CA, 8/31/19

1. “Plainsong”
2. “Pictures of You”
3. “High”
4. “A Night Like This”
5. “Just One Kiss”
6. “Lovesong”
7. “Last Dance”
8. “Burn”
9. “Fascination Street”
10. “Never Enough”
11. “Push”
12. “In Between Days”
13. “Just Like Heaven”
14. “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea”
15. “Play For Today”
16. “A Forest”
17. “Primary”
18. “Shake Dog Shake”
19. “39”
20. “Disintegration”

Encore
21. “Lullaby”
22. “The Caterpillar”
23. “The Walk”
24. “Friday I’m in Love”
25. “Close to Me”
26. “Why Can’t I Be You?”
27. “Boys Don’t Cry”

 


The Cure play Pasadena Daydream on Saturday. (Courtesy Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

 


Throwing Muses play Pasadena Daydream on Saturday. (Courtesy Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

 


Pixies play Pasadena Daydream on Saturday. (Courtesy Pasadena Daydream & Goldenvoice)

 

 

 

 


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