Cruel Britannia: Punk, goth and new-wave legends to converge at Cruel World on Saturday

Siouxsie Sioux performs in London
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After a tumultuous Coachella, where Frank Ocean tapped out between weekends, concert promoter Goldenvoice now turns to a summer season of genre- and era-driven festivals around L.A.

Last weekend’s Just Like Heaven summoned elder millennials with sets from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and MGMT, while June's Re:Set will lean younger with headlining performances from Steve Lacy, boygenius and LCD Soundsystem.

Cruel World, which debuted in 2022 at Brookside at the Rose Bowl and returns there on Saturday, is arguably Goldenvoice's most L.A. festival, despite the provenance of most of its attractions. Goth but pop-friendly, menacing but all over the genre map, the fest finds a throughline between peak-1980s British new wave hitmakers like the Human League, Adam Ant and Echo & the Bunnymen and modern, sinister electronic acts like Boy Harsher and Gvllow. If you're a gently graying Anglophile who still can squeeze into leather pants, you've likely already bought your tickets.

This year’s headliners are the louche lion in winter Iggy Pop, who released his 19th studio album in January, and U.K. goth queen Siouxsie, returning to stages after a decade away.

But the day and night is chock-full of legends mixed with emerging acts. Here are five of our favorites. Tickets are still available starting at $199.

Love and Rockets

This offshoot of the pioneering goth band Bauhaus has always been indebted to Southern California, starting with its name, taken from the beloved comics of the Oxnard-raised Hernandez brothers. They haven’t released an album since 1998’s “Lift,” and haven’t performed since a brief 2008 run that included Coachella. After Bauhaus’ pandemic-delayed reunion paused last year when singer Peter Murphy checked into rehab, the rest of the group decided to forge ahead in their other guise.

Molchat Doma

Give Bandcamp and TikTok credit where it's due — few other forces could have elevated a Belarussian harsh-electronic trio to global stars during a pandemic. But Molchat Doma's brutalist grandeur, led by singer Igor Shkutko’s resonant Russian-language baritone, found a huge online audience just as the world went to hell, and now they can finally tour on the back of their 2020 LP “Monument,” which added some zesty disco beats to their thundering menace.

Billy Idol

"Dancing With Myself" and "White Wedding" are ’80s nostalgia-circuit staples, but Idol is a dyed-in-the-wool first-gen punk (as a member of the U.K. group Generation X) and his radio hits have always belied the darker snarl underneath. To judge by what he famously did to a Thai hotel room on a three-week bender in 1989, which only ended when staff called in the military to strap him to a gurney, he never lost his anarchic fervor even after finding pop stardom. He played a more wholesomely groundbreaking gig earlier this year, when he headlined the first-ever concert at the Hoover Dam.

Gang of Four

Guitarist Andy Gill wasn’t the singer for the groundbreaking Leeds, England, band Gang of Four, but he was arguably a frontman of sorts. His wildly inventive guitar playing — pairing the crisp, funky precision of Parliament and Chic with the chaotic artiness of U.K. punk — influenced generations of acts to follow. One of those groups was the American indie noise outfit Slint, whose guitarist, David Pajo, has taken the place of Gill, who died in 2020. Original singer Jon King and drummer Hugo Burnham are back with Pajo and bassist Sara Lee to perform canonical post-punk singles like “Damaged Goods” and “To Hell With Poverty!"


This cryptic synth-pop project from the L.A. singer and visual artist (who has knocked around California’s death-rock and electronic scenes for a few years) checks all the right influence boxes for a fest like this, Einstürzende Neubauten, Christian Death, Nina Hagen and R.A.F. among them. But she’s a captivating live presence and 2021’s strobe-saturated “Gold,” released on ultra-hip L.A./N.Y. label Dais, suggests that a pop breakthrough isn’t out of the question.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.