“When We Were Young” Fest causes concern across the scene

Is this legit?

words by: Kayla Carmicheal
Feb 12, 2022

In January, I saw some posters flying around on my Twitter timeline. It looked like a joke. Over the last 2 years especially, people who are nostalgic for a different time, in the world, in life, and in music, dream up festival lineups of bands they miss seeing—whether in person, during Warped Tour, or another event.


With the poster in question, the usual suspects were there, headliners like My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Bring Me The Horizon, A Day to Remember, Avril Lavinge, Jimmy Eat World and Bright Eyes. Some surprises dotted other areas of the poster—Pierce The Veil, The Used, PVRIS, Dance Gavin Dance, The All-American Rejects, La Dispute, Taking Back Sunday, and Dashboard Confessional (to name a few)—but nothing looked out of the ordinary.


When We Were Young Festival Adds Third Day With Same Lineup Plus Alex G


After all, this was just some fan-made lineup on a fake tour poster that… was posted on The Maine’s official Twitter page… and Paramore’s…and PVRIS… and that’s when I realized that “When We Were Young” fest is real, and is happening this October, and has quite a few causes for concern.


Most festivals aren’t a day long

First of all, this can’t be happening over the course of one day. At the time of this post’s writing, more dates have been added, but initially, this was marketed as a one-day event.


If any of you have ever been to a festival, it’s pretty par for the course that they happen over the course of multiple days. The reasons are obvious: Set changes, set-up and takedown, full sets are at least a half an hour, everyone needs to rest and eat, maybe enjoy the day a little.


60+ bands over the course of 13 hours in Vegas is impossible. So why make it seem like that was the case?


The difference with Off The Wall

Now, most of these bands are from a smaller, or more niche scene. The biggest festival stage a lot of these bands have seen comes down to Vans Warped Tour. You know, that stretch of time where tons bands from pop punk, alternative, hardcore, and the like hit the road, cross-country, for an entire summer.


How did this work in one day? Well, there were multiple stages, usually surrounding a mid-sized amphitheater. Additionally, bands spanned multiple sub genres, so it was a long shot if a fan couldn’t see most of their favorites play. But what’s more? The sets themselves were short. Even the headliners didn’t play that long. There was no time! But it worked.


Next, at least two bands, The All-American Rejects (“Gives You Hell,” “Dirty Little Secret,” late 00s-finest) being one of them, tweeted what seemed like surprise at the lineup. Almost as if they didn’t know who would be joining them at the festival. Granted, this isn’t that weird. In the industry, this is somewhat commonplace—sometimes, lineups are revealed to other bands, and sometimes, they’re not.


Now, let’s talk about money.


The price of your scene

Again, over 60 bands, one day, in the very hot, hot Vegas desert. To compare, for admission to two-weekend Coachella 2022, GA (general admission) tickets start at $449, and VIP starts at $929. That’s 7 days of music and festival activity. For 4-day Lollapalooza 2021, GA started at $375, and VIP at $1,600.


Remember that Warped Tour thing I brought up earlier? Yeah, for less than $75, you were there. And that’s in 2018. Needless to say, if it was 2008, when most of the lineup would’ve been playing Warped, you could see them at your city’s amphitheater for probably $50 or less. That makes this day accessible to a whole lot of fans, fans who believe in and connect to a band’s message.


So imagine the Zillennial shock when GA tickets for this single-day gathering started at $229. With VIP starting at $449. Again, a single day.


Now, of course—these bands are bigger now. Paramore has a Grammy. MCR’s discography is all but hall-of-famed. These bands and acts are integral in the creation of this culture itself. (And believe me, the effects are not all sunshine and rainbows).


But when you think about how a lot of these bands have fans that connect with a certain message the bands convey through music—of coming from a background that didn’t have much disposable income, yet still having hope… for $50, that message comes across.


For $230, especially during a pandemic, (with little safety precautions mentioned), the question of greed comes into play. How is paying over $200 really feasible for a 13-hour day, where every band on the poster has no way to play an enjoyable set, without things getting slipped or missed?


Every scene deserves a good show. And that brings me to the next cause of concern: Live Nation.


Live Nation

I’ve gone to a lot of shows, and I can’t tell you how many are put on, in some way, by Live Nation. Some think of them as “The Man” when it comes to entertainment and live events. Dua Lipa, John Mayer, Hasan Minhaj Amine, YUNGBLOOD—sound familiar? The theme here is this: If you want to see a big name, you will most likely have to pay big name money, and to a company with questionable history and innerworkings.


Most recently, Live Nation has made headlines for being behind the Astroworld Festival. There is no way to accurately explain the incredible loss and great tragedy that happened at Astroworld. If nothing else is taken away from this article, please recognize that we lost 9 innocent souls that day.


And while we still try to make sense of everything that went wrong at Astroworld, grapple with loss, and question how to move forward, an event for an objectively entirely different audience comes out of nowhere. By the same company who produced Astroworld less than a year before.


The same company who has now added more dates to the festival after the first round of tickets completely sold out. As the fest gains more and more traction, one can only wonder how this fest came to be, and why. And if it’s logistically possible to hold a safe, enjoyable festival for all.


Photo via Twitter