‘When We Were Young’: 5 Questions We Have About the 2000s Emo and Pop-Punk Blowout

On Tuesday afternoon, an emo festival designed to bait millennials around the world materialized of thin air. Headlined by My Chemical Romance and Paramore, When We Were Young is set to take place in Las Vegas on Oct. 22. The poster is full of band names you either haven’t thought about in years or have thought about every single day since you hit puberty: AFI, the Used, 3OH!3, Hawthorne Heights, the Ready Set, Anberlin. Alongside the emo and pop-punk heavyweights like Bring Me the Horizon, Bright Eyes, and Avril Lavigne are some newer names, like viral punks the Linda Lindas and TikTok stars Jxdn and Lil Huddy.

The festival almost feels like a desert mirage: Is this too good to be true? Are we in for the emo revival’s own Fyre Festival? Here are five questions we have about the year’s hottest 2000s-nostalgia ticket.

Where the hell did this festival come from?
Believe it or not, this is actually the second When We Were Young festival. The first one took place in Santa Ana, California, in 2017, a week before Coachella. Across two days, a similar but less flashy set of punk, emo, and indie-rock nostalgia acts shared a bill, with Morrissey, AFI, Descendents, Cage the Elephant, and Taking Back Sunday among them.

Is this seriously all happening on only one day?
The poster for the fest is wildly crowded, and it’s quite ridiculous to expect that this many bands can appear in just 12 hours, unless all their sets are whittled down to 20 minutes of pure hits. According to ticketing information, there will be three stages across the festival grounds, which means a ton of horrible choices about which bands to prioritize throughout day-long fest, which is due to begin at 11 a.m. and end at 11 p.m. Which brings us to one big question about the co-headliners …

Will we have to choose between My Chemical Romance and Paramore?
We feel for any emo kid who has to make this heartbreaker of a call. Both bands are listed at the top of the bill, right next to each other. Both also remain wildly popular. Paramore have returned from a hiatus to record a new album while My Chemical Romance reunited in 2019, only for their tour to be pushed back twice now due to Covid. Given the single day of performances spread across three stages, it seems likely (though not confirmed) that the two headliners could be performing at the same time. So many great things come with difficult choices.

Were Fall Out Boy unavailable?
Excited tweets about the festival have opened the floodgates for questions about who was left out. The lineup is, in many ways, a snapshot of a time and place in early-2000s alternative-rock music. Of course, it is simply one day in Vegas and many bands have their own tours and schedules to adhere to. But the absence of Fall Out Boy (playing only their first three albums, for the sake of the vibe) is a personal vendetta I will carry against this lineup.

Are the folks behind Warped Tour fuming?
Credit where credit is due: Warped Tour was a major launchpad for the majority of artists on this bill. It ended officially in 2019 with a mini 25th-anniversary tour, but the true final trek was back in 2018. The Warped Tour sound is having a huge revival right now, not just for the kids who grew up on it but also for Gen Z artists, many of whom have landed on the WWWY lineup.

Warped founder Kevin Lyman teased that a Warped-adjacent festival would arrive under a different name in 2021, though that didn’t happen. Meanwhile, Attila’s Chris Fronzak has been looking into buying the rights to Warped, though he legally couldn’t put on the festival until 2023. If When We Were Young goes off without a hitch, we could very well see even more fest lineups scratching that Hot Topic nostalgia itch.

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