Is the When We Were Young Festival worth the hype?

14 min

Ever since the When We We Young Festival was announced, rumors started to fly: "This will be a scam", "There's no way that many bands can perform in one day", "This will be just like Fyre Fest". Commenters spilled their negativity all over the internet. But who can blame them? Time after time big festivals have scammed, endangered and disappointed excited concert goers.

And yes, it's true, the first day of the When We Were Young Festival (October 22nd, 2022) was cancelled. People took this as a sign that their cynical suspicions were correct. However, this was not a flippant decision, as agreed upon by Paramore's lead singer Hayley Williams:

"I know that this weekend got off to a rocky start, and I know it wasn't a particularly popular decision to everyone out there. But I want to say that it means a lot that the festival was looking out for all of our safety." - Hayley Williams 10/23/2022 (Paramore Lead Singer) on the festival's cancellation

(See more of Hayley Williams performance in the video above starting at timestamp 22:47)

The National Weather Service and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department advised the cancellation of the festival due to high wind warnings predicted for that Saturday with dangerous sustained speeds of 30-40 mph and potential 60 mph gusts!

For those who weren't in Las Vegas at the time, this cancellation seemed a little far-fetched and over reactive, but as someone who was there I can tell you that the wind that day was no joke! We cowered in fear in our hotel rooms as we watched palm trees bend, garbage cans fly and papers on our counter leap off our desks from gusts coming through the window's small ventilation gaps.

Another sight we saw that day was thousands of emos wandering the streets of Las Vegas aimlessly. Tears in their eyes, phones in their hands, questioning looks to friends and loved ones. It was very sad to see. Fortunately, we had our tickets for the following day, Sunday, October 23rd 2022...and that's where this article begins.

This is an inside scoop from a GA (General Admission) ticket holder who attended the official first day of the When We Were Young Festival, and I'm here to answer the important question of... was it worth the hype? (If you already have tickets for next year feel free to skip to my Quick Tips for the 2023 When We Were Young Festival)

How long will I have to wait in line for entry to the WWWY festival?

After a morning of blackening our eyes with eyeliner and packing our clear bags with all the essentials (See my Music Festival Amazon Packing List), we made our way to the Las Vegas Festival Grounds repping our best emo attire. I sported a Paramore shirt and had my husband wear a Boys Like Girls shirt, both from my 2008 high school collection. Us and 60,000 other attendees looped and looped around blocks in lines with seemingly no end or structure. We waited in these lines for an hour and a half for entry. Was this to be expected? Yes. Was it still tiring? Yes!

My first tip for you for this festival is to wear your best walking shoes. I lined my combat boots with arch supports in anticipation for the all-day standing fest! I'm so glad I did because we were standing for 12 straight hours!

What kind of food is at the WWWY Festival?

At around 11:30 am we were finally inside! After selfies with the gorgeous When We Were Young Festival arch and hot pink walkway, we were starving. Luckily, the festival had vegan food to accommodate our diets. One great thing about the festival is that they had a plethora of food choices! From noodles, tacos, wings and sandwiches, they had it all, including many vegan and vegetarian options. See all of the food stands they had at the 2022 WWWY festival here. Also, there were free "Hydration Stations" where you could fill your empty clear water bottles with as much H2O as you desired.

Once we snagged some vegan noodles from Island Noodles, we made our way to the Striped Stage for our first performance by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus band. This was a great start to the day! The crowd was excited for this not-as-well-known-but-beloved emo band. We all swayed to their popular hit "Face Down" and bonded with one another reminiscing on our high school days when this song came out.

Afterwards we made our way from the Striped Stage to the Pink Stage. I wanted to secure a good spot in the General Admission area to see my favorite band Paramore, who would be playing at the end of the night. We secured premium viewing spots at the Pink Stage, right in front of the VIP fence, we got as close to the bands as we could with our GA tickets. I was determined to be as close to Paramore's performance as possible, so we ended up standing in the same spot by the VIP gate from around noon to 11:45 pm at night! We stood there without sitting, going to the bathroom or getting food. WOW! I was too afraid to leave our spot because the crowds were so tight and jam packed, I knew we would never get back! I can't believe we did this and our bodies were very sore afterwards. But it did allow us to see every band at the Black and Pink Stage!

Which bands did you see perform at the 2022 WWWY Festival?

Here's who I was able to capture in my When We Were Young Festival Video and the timestamps that these bands appear:
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: @2:52
Boys Like Girls: @4:10
Dashboard Confessional: @6:02
Pierce the Veil: @7:54
The Used: @9:08
AFI: @11:21
Jimmy Eat World: @12:18
A Day to Remember: @13:16
Avril Lavigne: @15:51
Paramore: @22:47
My Chemical Romance: @31:41

Is it possible to see every band perform at the WWWY festival?

The short answer is no. All of these bands do perform at the festival, and the festival provided a detailed time schedule for fans to plan, but it's physically impossible to be near every band due to the layout. However, you will be able to see all of the headliners at the main stages! The two main stages are set up next to each other with sports stadium sized screens showing all performances at those stages. This allows you to experience the Black Stage even if you decide to station yourself at the Pink Stage and vice versa. However, if you want to see bands at the Checkered Stage, Striped Stage and Neon Tent, then you will have to move around the festival and pray that you can return somewhat close to the screens at the main stages.

Here are some highlights of performances I saw. The lead singer of Dashboard Confessional swooned the audience with a gorgeous voice that in my opinion was the most technically skilled of the night. Unfortunately his set was cut in half due to technical issues, but I was very impressed with what I heard. The Used had the most vibrant and crowd pumping set. My husband said this was his favorite part of the day. Mosh pits ensued right behind us in the crowd, and everyone was jumping up and down the whole time!

How long do the headliners perform at the WWWY festival?

The three headliners - Avril Lavigne, Paramore and My Chemical Romance - were just as amazing as I expected! All with surprisingly long, one-hour sets! (The rest of the bands got about 20 minutes to a half hour.) Avril Lavigne was just as cute and spunky as you'd expect, plus she had fun surprises, such as a duet with the lead singer from All Time Low. My Chemical Romance surprised the crowd with "old person" makeup. However, they did not announce this while playing so at first everyone was confused as to why Gerard Wad looked so ancient! And Paramore connected with us through many conversations and vulnerable moments. These three headliners had enough time to play ALL of their most popular songs, new and old! My emo heart was filled with darkness and joy. 🖤

How is the crowd? Is it safe? Are people nice?

YES! My favorite part of the festival was all the fun we had bonding with fellow emos! Everyone had the same vibe, age range, attire and, of course, musical taste. If you've never felt like you've belonged and love pop punk / emo / scene music, then this is going to be a sanctuary for you! Even though I don't dress this way in my day-to-day life, my music taste has always leaned towards this genre. Even though my husband and I wore outfits representing more "pop" punk bands than pure emo, we were accepted, complimented and asked many questions by concert attendees.

As far as safety goes, I would say it's a very safe event... if you behave! The festival has many security guards throughout the crowds and even the bands practiced security etiquette. Multiple bands paused their performances upon seeing dangerous activity in the crowd, for example if they saw someone who passed out or if a mosh pit got too crazy. We ourselves were able to de-escalate a fight that almost happened behind us by working together with other festival goers and alerting the nearest security guards.

Should I buy a ticket for next year or the following years? Which admission package should I buy?

Overall I had a blast and would recommend attending if you love this type of music and can afford traveling and staying in Las Vegas, Nevada. To save money, we used our Chase credit card points to get free hotel accommodations at the Westgate hotel and we used the Hopper app to get discounted flights which we booked early on.

BUT these tickets sell out FAST! The 2023 festival is already sold out but there is a wait list which automatically charges your credit card if tickets become available. We signed up for this, so hopefully we'll see you there!

As for which package to get... honestly the V.I.P. tickets are ideal for the full experience. With V.I.P passes you are right in front of the stage, versus being hundreds of feet away from the bands with GA ticket. Also, there are fewer people in this V.I.P. area, which means you can sit comfortably and get a great view of the screens. Plus it's easier to walk around and get food/water. Unfortunately, V.I.P tickets are around $500 bucks! But worth it if you can afford it and want to have the full experience of attending high-profile concert performances!

What are the downsides and lows of the WWWY Festival? What's the real tea girlfriend?

If you do end up buying a ticket or if you are wondering if this festival is right for you, here are my cons....

  1. It's physically taxing
    The physical fitness required to get close enough to the screens or even just to walk around the festival for 12 hours in the Las Vegas heat is something to consider. Even though there's food, water, faux grass to sit on and it's handicap-accessible, prepare to be sore and in pain the following week!

  2. You can't see ALL 65(ish) bands at the festival
    As I said before, the layout of the festival has the stages separated. See the 2022 WWWY Festival Map here. This means you can choose to see all the bands at the Black and Pink Stage OR all the bands at the Striped and Checkered stage. The screens are set up in those sections to show performances in those areas. The Neon Tent is separated from the pack. Overall you'll have to pick a region to commit to. BUT it is possible to see most of the bands at the festival.

  3. It's expensive AF
    Not only are the tickets pricey, but Las Vegas itself is an expensive place to visit. The hotels run on the cheaper side because of the casinos within them, but the ubers and food add up while you're staying there. If you have a band from this event you really want to see, it's more worth it to buy a ticket to just there concert. For example, during the same week we went to this festival we bought tickets to the Panic At The Disco Las Vegas Concert and we were soooo thrilled with how amazing it was! Over 3 hours of every Panic song, with Brendon Urie's beautiful voice. It was comfortable and a more enjoyable experience than the festival overall. Check out that vlog linked above.

Final Thoughts?

Overall, I'm glad we had the opportunity to attend the 2022 When We Were Young Festival! Although we were exhausted, dehydrated and sore (due to our own stubbornness, not the festival), our experience throughout the performances was awesome, adrenaline-pumping and unlike anything I've ever done before!

This was my first American music festival (click here to see a music festival I attended in Vietnam) and I'm happy to say it was worth it for my husband and I! Although pricey, we enjoyed the unique experience of attending a music festival and exploring the fabulous city of Las Vegas! (See all of our Las Vegas travel videos here.)

Quick Tips for the 2023 When We Were Young Festival

  • Get to the Las Vegas Festival Grounds two hours early.

    • YES you heard me right! You'll have to wait in line for about an hour if you get there by 10am for the doors opening at 11am. Trust me, the earlier the better.

  • Pack everything ahead of time and refer to the festival website for allowed items

  • Skip the merch!

    • It will be a waste of time and they post items for sale on their website after the event.

  • Prepare for the pain!

    • As I said, this event is a marathon of standing for 12 hours outside! Bring comfortable clothing, footwear and don't plan on going to work the next day.

  • Be respectful

    • If you want to get wasted and riot, go somewhere else! We saw many people get kicked out for acting up due to being f*cked up! Have fun, but be safe for the best experience.

  • Go with the flow

    • If you are a Type A person like me and plan out every band you want to see, then here's my warning to you that your ideal day won't go as planned. Just arrive early, stay nourished and go with the flow of the day. Pick your most desired band to see and set that as your goal! Also, be prepared to miss the event completely if your day gets cancelled! Since the WWWY festival was sold out, those attendees on the first cancelled day did not get to attend the other day! They got their money back for the tickets, but unfortunately they missed out.

I hope this helps you determine if this festival is right for you and I hope this gets you pumped for next year! With that, I'll close with the famous emo lyric from My Chemical Romance: so long and goodnight.

When We Were Young Festival
Las Vegas
Las Vegas Festival Grounds
When We Were Young Festival Las Vegas

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