It’s a Cruel World for Fans of Iggy Pop and Siouxsie When Lightning Strikes Near a Music Festival at the Rose Bowl

photo of A lightning strike in the sky at cruel world music festival in Pasadena ca may 20, 2023
Lightning strikes at Cruel World 2023

It’s a cruel world indeed. Tens of thousands of attendees were evacuated from the Cruel World music festival on Saturday, May 20, in Pasadena, California, at the historic Rose Bowl. Mother Nature decided to remind us she is a force to be reckoned with.

Words:  Sandra Burciaga Olinger

The legendary Godfather of punk, Iggy Pop, was into his set’s fourth or fifth song when lightning began to strike. We danced and sang along to songs like “T.V. Eye,” “Raw Power,” and more. It wasn’t until Pop’s iconic hit “The Passenger” that we saw four lighting bolts flash east of the Outsiders stage where Pop was performing.


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As Pop played to a sea of fans, the PAs kept cutting out while the onstage side fills blasted. In other words, the sound kept going out during “The Passenger.” While we couldn’t hear Pop’s vocals from the PAs, we could still hear the walls of speakers on either side of Pop blasting out music. Many fans thought it was a tech/sound issue when it was the starting sign of getting Iggy Pop and everybody off the stage, including an adorable child dancing on stage as part of the act.


As soon as I saw the first and second lightning strikes, I knew the festival would be canceled. Any music festival you attend that gets lightning, especially multiple strikes, is a huge liability. The stage is a giant conductor leaving an open invitation for Mother Nature to light shit up. And if a bolt or two hit the stage, that would have been devastating. Lives would not be present today.

“They’re going to evacuate the festival,” said an insider behind us near the backstage exit as they ushered their partner to leave.

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As disappointing as it was, to not be able to experience Iggy Pop in full, nor get to see our goth Queen Siouxsie place us in Spellbound bliss, or watch the artistry of the Human League complete their perforce across the way at the Lost Boys stage — fans need to understand that this is the protocol with any lightning. It is absolutely unfortunate, but this is nothing new. Can you imagine the scenario had the festival not been shut down and lightning did indeed strike a stage?

While the storm threat popping off just 3 miles away from the Rose Bowl never hit Cruel World, festival organizers Goldenvoice made the safe and wise decision to evacuate attendees.

Without being able to complete The Passenger,” Iggy Pop sadly announced: “OK, we have lightning we need to evacuate the stage, I’ve been told.”


Fans lingered for about an hour, hoping the festival would resume, but it didn’t. As a result, Siouxsie never got to perform.

Festival-goers, and rightfully so, were livid. Some cried out, “I want a Cruel refund!” while others claimed there was no lightning (watch my video below).

Cruel World festival in Pasadena evacuated due to inclement weather

A cruel situation indeed. We had met fans worldwide, specifically a sweet family that had flown from Australia. Many attendees had driven over from neighboring cities and states, and many festival-goers flew in from across the USA.

To make up for it, Goldenvoice has rescheduled both Iggy Pop and Siouxsie for Sunday, May 21, at the Cruel World festival grounds at the Rose Bowl. The festivities will begin at 5 PM with Dave from the Grave Club Doom Dave (DJ Set), followed by Gary Numan, Iggy Pop, and Siouxsie will headline the event at 8:20pm. The festival has also made parking free. It’s usually $25 for general and $75 for preferred.

Cruel world set times for Sunday may 21 the make up date

The amount of last-minute organization, licensing, approvals, and money that goes into adding a second festival date is bonkers. Let’s just say festival organizers did not sleep last night, and production teams are working tirelessly. The festival didn’t have to do this; neither did Iggy Pop nor Siouxsie. But this clearly shows how much they love their fans and want to do right in an unfair situation where everyone was at the hands of Mother Nature.

Unfortunately, the kind gesture is not enough for many fans currently en route to the airport, driving back for work, or getting back to their children and loved ones. We need to remember that the average age at Cruel World was probably 45. These are different people from your usual festival goers that are there to see and be seen. They came for the music. They came to relive their Gen X years and feel that rush of nostalgia. That feeling is absolute bliss. I know; I just experienced last weekend at Just Like Heaven.

Cruel World festival in Pasadena evacuated due to inclement weather

I feel for those fans with no option and no way of returning today. And I do hope those fans get a partial refund. While they did enjoy most of the music festival, a majority of those fans came from around the world to see both Iggy Pop and Siouxsie. Some had been camping since the gates opened at the front lines of the Outsiders Stage to see these two icons perform and potentially see them duet on “The Passenger.” Now, this is something they will not be able to experience.

With our weather forecast in Pasadena currently showing a 30-40% chance of rain through 7pm, we hope the shows go on, and Mother Nature gives these music-loving humans a break.

Pasadena weather at Cruel World festival
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