Cruel World Festival 2023

Cruel World 2023

MAY 20, 2023


Picture a Hot Topic storefront — hellish lighting and all — and superimpose it onto a Pasadena stadium.

Cruel World brings the hard edge of ‘80s punk rock music into the SoCal sunlight. The one-day festival has been described by Variety as “a return to the grim yet glam energy that made L.A. nightlife so exciting in the ’80’s and ’90s.” In spaces dominated by mainstream festivals riding the waves of new music and new trends, Cruel World represents a homecoming for rock nostalgics, veterans of the Los Angeles punk scene and millennials reminiscing on their middle school Hot Topic days.

Cruel World was founded in 2020 and is organized by Goldenvoice, the mega festival promoter that’s the behind Coachella and Stagecoach. This year, headliners like Siouxsie, Iggy Pop and Billy Idol will join past Cruel World performers like Morrissey and Bauhaus at the Rose Bowl.

Bounce between the pits of Cruel World’s three stages or bask in the grassy grounds in the middle of the stadium. Wherever you go, be prepared to brave some sweat. Cruel World attendees come dressed to the nines in batwing eyeliner, cherry Doc Martens, fishnets, Manic Panic, chunky chains and all-black gear. If that’s how you plan on dressing, too, then waterproof mascara might be a good idea.

The Specs

  • Around 100,000 people attend.
  • There are three General Admission tiers, one General Admission Plus tier, two VIP tiers and a Clubhouse option. Tickets range from $159 to $799, fees not included.
  • Cruel World is open to all ages, but the Clubhouse, featuring prime stage viewing, exclusive entrance and access to an air-conditioned lounge, is only available to guests 21 and up.
  • Some of the lower tiers are already sold out, but the festival offers a ticket waitlist.
  • Cruel World is cashless, so leave the stuffed wallet behind. Your fishnet ensemble will probably not have pockets sturdy enough for it, anyways.

Cruel World poster

BY Riya Misra