After an eleventh-hour cancellation on Saturday, October 22nd for high winds just moments before the gates were set to open, the debut edition of the When We Were Young festival blasted off Sunday, October 23rd, welcoming 60,000 emo and punk fans with a stacked lineup of 65 acts.
The black-clad masses poured inside the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, previously home to hip-hop fest Day N Vegas, around 10:00 a.m., while winds continued to gust and the temperatures dropped well below forecast.
Located at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, a prime spot in the corridor between the Strip and Downtown, the famed Bonanza Gift Shop served as the backdrop of the dual Pink and Black stages, which switched off headlining acts until a stunning closing set by My Chemical Romance.
So how did the fest — which had been shaping up to be one of the most highly-anticipated music events of 2022, with the 2023 lineup already announced before it even happened — go?
Consequence was on the ground all day Sunday, and we’ve got the full report below. (Plus, check out our gallery of exclusive photos here.) You can also grab tickets to the final day on October 29th, 2022 here.
A long pink lawn led attendees into the event and became a picnic area throughout the brisk afternoon for those grabbing tacos, corndogs and churros before catching their favorite band. It’s this kind of celebratory, happy and convivial environment that we all love in a festival. The good vibes were, to coin a term, emo-tional.
Hoping to alleviate the disappointment of the fans who came ready to rock Saturday and were turned away because of the weather, bands clamored to find any available stage in which to play pop-up concerts. On Main Street in the Las Vegas Arts District, just a few miles from the Festival Grounds, concertgoers lined up for hours to see The All-American Rejects at Soul Belly BBQ. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Hawthorne Heights hit The Strat. Elsewhere, Anthony Green, Senses Fail, Thursday and Bayside played the Sand Dollar at Plaza, while Bring Me the Horizon teamed up with Knocked Loose and Landon Barker at Palms.
On the grounds, ironic emo T-shirts abounded. With a crowd that undoubtedly bought out every Hot Topic west of the Mississippi, the WWWY fest audience brought their A-plus graphic-tee game. Some favorites included “Elder Emo,” “Emo’s Not Dead,” “Sad As Fuck” and the contradictory “Not Sad.”
Notably, it seemed that emo and punk fans have chilled out — the crowd was extremely mellow, especially during the earlier hours. Maybe it was because of hangovers from the popup shows that many attended in lieu of Saturday’s festival, or maybe it was just age — but it left many simply vibing to the music without injury.