When the first day of the mammoth emo nostalgia festival When We Were Young was cancelled on Saturday, people online were smug. The event has been plagued by doubt and derision from the start: 60 bands billed to play over the course of 12 hours in the middle of the desert, at a high (non-refundable) price point, arranged by the same promoters responsible for AstroWorld.
Some claimed it was a scam praying on ageing millennials with disposable income and nothing of material value, others said it had “Fyre Festival” written all over it. And from the too-good-to-be-true line-up that looked like a Year 9 pencil case in 2004 to the fact that it was announced before many of the bands had even agreed to play, it did feel somewhat fated. In part because we are not accustomed to nice things, and it seemed too good to be true. My Chemical Romance, Paramore and Avril Lavigne? Back to back? Surely not...
Despite these reservations, 80,000 emos of primarily the elder variety descended upon the Las Vegas strip like a plague of locusts in fishnets. And despite overcoming all imaginable odds – namely, pulling off a festival that presented a bigger logistical nightmare than having gay people on Love Island – it felt cruel that the first day was done in by gale force winds.
Sadly for all the haters, losers and genuinely unfortunate people who bought Saturday tickets only to spend the weekend wandering aimlessly around the strange smelling corridors of Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, however, day two unfolded without a hitch. The crowd was buzzing, the bands were all having fun while also seeming somewhat taken aback by the amount of non-ironic love people have for them and there were people wearing V-necks so deep they must have been copped on Vinted.
So, with the scene set, here's some of what we overheard on the first (successful) day of When We Were Young 2022:
“Inside me are two wolves: one that wants to go on the water slide, and one that wants an ass tattoo.”
Security to a couple carrying cans of PBR: “You're going to have to pour those out before coming through I'm afraid."
Couple: "Oh... we'll be back in two minutes."
Security: "YEAH, CHUG IT!"
"3OH!3 should come on three minutes late so they're on at 3:03. That would be awesome."
"Bro the main stage is so lamestage."
Person 1: "I thought there would be more people here dressed like me."
Person 2: "What do you mean?"
Person 1: "Like, gilets and shit."
"Guys, I caught the mic! I'm like Adam Lazzarra, let's go!' – the singer of 3OH!3
Person 1: "Do you think anyone here is our age?"
Person 2: "Yeah look how many dudes there are in baseball hats – that means they're balding."
"I wish Morrissey was playing."
"Sorry I just dropped my Elf Bar." – Bert McCracken of The Used, in the press area.
Two girls twerking while watching Jimmy Eat World: "We're throwing it back... mournfully."
"Guys, is my Insta story cool?"
“Travis Barker nearly stood on my foot and apologised.”
"Yeah well I stink, alright? I stink and I'm rubbish."
"There is so much talent in this town."
Person 1: "What should we do for two hours?"
Person 2: "Well I'm going for a massive shit."
[Pointing at a still burning cigarette on the floor] "Ryan, stop that fag!"
"I just walked through the food court and saw like 15 emos crying alone on the floor."
"Why is Denny's my safe space now?"
"My arse is locked and loaded."
La Dispute frontman Jordan Dreyer: [singing] Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself? / Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself? [addressing the crowd] "Thanks! This is really fun :)"
Person 1: "I love tapioca."
Person 2: "Are you pretending to be in an old people's home?"
"Yeah... that made me really sad."