I’m on my way home from the Cruel World festival, which was an incredible celebration in Los Angeles of New Wave and ’80s music. It was also incredibly hot—temperatures on Saturday soared into the mid 90s.
One of the highlights for me was seeing TR/ST, who debuted two new songs. TR/ST’s Robert Alfons did not talk much during his set, and he did not introduce the new tracks. According to fans online, the new songs might be called “Robrash” or “Soon.”
There’s no word yet if TR/ST is planning to officially release either of these songs or other new music this year, but at least we can confirm he’s working on new material.
TR/ST also performed a number of his standards, including “Shoom” and “Rescue Mister.” I was a little bit disappointed he didn’t play “Gone,” my favorite song of 2019. He played two tracks—”Bicep” and “Iris”—from his most recent release, the two-part Destroyer albums. I named The Destroyer Part 1 the best albums of 2019.
The Cruel World set was an an unusual performance for TR/ST. Robert performed solo without the live drummer and keyboardist who typically accompany him. Despite the missing band members, he still delivered an incredible performance full of his trademark energy and dance moves. The screen behind him projected images of the crowd, which was fun but distracting—I wanted to focus on Robert!
TR/ST’s set started at 3:45 PM during peak sunshine, and these earlier shows were given 30-minute timeslots. Here’s the complete setlist:
- Rescue, Mister
Another Cruel World highlight was experiencing Sextile, now a new favorite band. They brought so much joy and energy to the stage. I think this band is going to make waves. I also enjoyed seeing Cold Cave, who worked through some technical difficulties on Saturday, and The Psychedelic Furs—singing along to “Heartbreak Beat” as the sun was setting felt sorta magical.
Goldenvoice, the producers behind Cruel World, confirmed that the festival will return next year. They announced that Echo and the Bunnymen, who missed this year’s show due to visa issues, will perform in 2023.
(Photo of TR/ST from the official Cruel World Facebook page.)