Las Vegas’s When We Were Young Festival officially kicked off on Sunday, Oct. 23, with a night filled with surprises and guest appearances. The festival included everything from mosh pits, to smashing on-stage collaborations, to first-time live performances of hit songs and so much more.
Photo credit: Jenna Houchin
Despite its rocky start of canceling the first show due to extremely dangerous high winds, the festival’s second date was a success. Thousands of people lined up at the gates early Sunday morning to attend the inaugural When We Were Young Festival. The official opening of the festival included just about everything punk rock. Guests could enjoy a stacked lineup of emo and alternative heavy hitters, including headliners My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Bring Me The Horizon and more. Aside from the incredible lineup, guests could also enjoy a variety of pop-ups, such as Netflix’s Horrorscope booth, where guests could have their palms and tarot cards read, or the Eargasm Experience booth, where attendees could get custom When We Were Young Edition Earplugs.
The day officially opened with Prentiss performing at the Neon Tent and The Linda Lindas performing at the Pink Stage. The Linda Lindas are the youngest artists within the festival’s lineup, with the oldest member being 18 years old and the youngest member only being 12 years old. From going viral for their hit single “Racist, Sexist Boy” to kicking off major festivals, The Linda Lindas have come a long way in just a single year.
Sadly, the festival’s first show was not so pitch-perfect as many artists faced several technical difficulties. One of the biggest mishaps happened to Florida’s rock band Dashboard Confessional. The band was wrongly introduced as Pierce The Veil and had no sound for the first 10 minutes of their set. After hundreds of people in the crowd chanted in unison, “there is no sound,” for several minutes, the band finally stopped their performance to address the issue. Nonetheless, Dashboard Confessional remained with a positive attitude and carried on with a great performance.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, one of the few bands to perform a free show in Las Vegas on Saturday, Oct. 22, had everyone singing “Face Down,” even those stuck in the long merchandise lines. After five years, Pierce The Veil returned to the stage, introducing themselves with legendary Mexican singer Vicente Fernández’s “Hermoso Cariño” and showcasing a Mexican flag on stage. The band was joined by A Day To Remember’s vocalist Jeremy McKinnon and Sleeping With Siren’s Kellin Quinn to perform “A King For A Day.” The Used also performed fan favorite “The Taste of Ink” and surprised fans with a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Taking Back Sunday addressed the crowd during their set, explaining how they almost did not make it into the lineup because they “wanted nothing to do with it” but were glad they decided to join the festival. The band performed all their classic hits and even performed one of their new tracks, “Just Us Two,” with Steve Aoki, who was later spotted in the crowd with former professional skater and TV personality Bam Margera. Avril Lavigne continued with the nostalgic hit songs and surprised fans by bringing out All Time Low to cover emo classic Blink-182’s “All The Small Things.”
Dance Gavin Dance performed at the Stripes Stage and remembered their fellow bandmate Tim Feerick who passed away six months ago. “We miss him very dearly,” said Jon Mess. This was the band’s first festival performance without Feerick or previous vocalist Tilian Pearson who stepped down after sexual assault allegations were raised against him. Bring Me The Horizon’s Oliver Sykes made the crowd go wild, not just with his screamo vocals but also by stepping into the crowd greeting fans mid-performance.
The festival closed with headlining acts Paramore and My Chemical Romance. Paramore addressed the festival’s first-day cancelation clarifying that the festival prioritizes the guest’s safety; vocalist Hailey Williams also thanked the crowd for getting her attention when someone in the crowd seemed to have fallen. Williams also defined emo as a genre meant to welcome everyone, especially three major minority groups: “young women, people of color and queer people.” Paramore performed the 2009 fan favorite “All I Wanted” live for the first time. Emo gods, My Chemical Romance had thousands of attendees screaming all their lyrics at the top of their lungs. The emo band performed in zombie costumes and even had their crew dressed as doctors and nurses; the band sadly addressed the crowd as Utah. Nevertheless, it was a magical night, with the legendary band closing out the biggest emo festival of all time.
When We Were Young was often compared to Warped Tour, though let’s face it, it was much greater. When We Were Young Festival was where fans and artists sang along and bonded over nostalgic music. When We Were Young returns to Las Vegas next Saturday, Oct. 29, with new bands joining the lineup.
Photo credit: Jenna Houchin