We were lucky enough to attend the first ever When We Were Young Festival in Las Vegas! When I first saw this festival announcement way back in January, I was like no way this festival is actually gonna happen. I really thought it was too good to be true! That was sort of the case, because as we were driving up to Vegas, I got an email saying the festival was canceled due to a strong wind advisory. Of course! We were only an hour away from Vegas without a place to stay, due to hotel price gouging — big-time! We were going to pull our usual thing of driving up to the show morning of and then driving back home to San Diego after the show. Fortunately, we have friends in Vegas and were offered a couch. My mom and I joke about being over-packers, but this is exactly why we do it, because you never know! We were so grateful that our media passes got rolled over to the next day, but felt so bad for all the people that were so excited for the fest and then were just shit out of luck.
Since we suddenly had a free day in Vegas, we got our lovely $10 tattoo at Koolsville, walked around casinos, grabbed some dinner and watched the baseball playoffs. The wind and dust in the air was awful, so they absolutely made the right decision to cancel. Because of the cancellation, a lot of bands were offering free sideshows to all those who were going to attend the fest that day, of which was Bring Me The Horizon… but, not free a show, though. We went over to that hotel and it was like the entire festival was inside the casino! We tried to get into it, but it obviously sold out really quickly. We took it as a sign that we needed to chill out and get some rest for the big day we were to have the next day.
When we first got to the fest, I was honestly really impressed with the initial organization of it.
It definitely didn’t seem like this was the first time it was being held (on par, for Goldenvoice). We made it into the venue just in time to see Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and hear “Face Down”. As much as I hate to admit it, I willingly walked all the way over to the Neon Tent to catch Huddy. He’s literally the only TikToker-turned-musician that I actually like. Next up was Atreyu back at the Stripes Stage; they unfortunately had a few sound issues throughout their set, but they didn’t let it phase them and still put on a great show! We then walked over to the main stage area for the first time in the day to catch Pierce The Veil!
To be completely honest, they had a super interesting system over there: the GA pit had a separate entrance (like a VIP section). So, what you thought would be a VIP pit was actually the GA pit… it was weird. The crowd during PTV was amazing and probably one of the more fun pits I’ve been in for awhile! I started pretty far back, but made it to second row just in time for probably one of the most iconic moments I’ve ever witnessed: lead singer Vic Fuentes walked offstage as the intro to “King For A Day” started. He came back out side by side with Kellin Quinn from Sleeping With Sirens! It was a moment that I’ve wanted to see since I first started getting into these two bands! When PTV ended, almost everybody left that stage. It took us, no joke, 20 minutes to get out of the GA pit. This is where the poor choice of the floor plan really showed, because they had the exit to the pit right next to the bathrooms.
It was a real cluster fuck.
After we finally got out of that mess, we needed to take a little ‘people break’, so we left the grounds for a little for a quick outfit change (because it was freezing!). When we got back in, we went straight to the Stripes Stage and stayed there for the rest of the night. It was kind of like a Trinity of Terror Tour show, because Black Veil Brides, Motionless In White and Ice Nine Kills were playing back-to-back and on the same stage! We got to hear Black Veil Brides debut of their song “Devil” live, which is off their latest EP titled The Mourning.
I have now seen Motionless In White nine times, but this was my first time seeing lead singer Chris Motionless with black hair! I got into them during the ‘blonde Chris’ era, so it’s so different to see him not with blonde hair! “Slaughterhouse” is currently one of my favorite songs. The song is recorded with Bryan Gerris from Knocked Loose, but I’ve seen Motionless perform it with Joe Coteta (from DED) and David Benites (Metal Vocal Coach) thus far. It didn’t set in for me until the intro to “Slaughterhouse” started that I realized Knocked Loose was also playing the festival! At that moment, Bryan Gerris came out! It was the first time that song was performed with him live and yet another moment I’ve been dying to see!
In this year alone, I have now seen Ice Nine Kills 10 times in seven different states! Despite knowing every word of their set by now, I will never get sick of them. After their set, Shevy (INK’s MUA and onstage actor) was walking around the photo pit with two setlists and the red balloon from stage. I said hi to her as she was walking by; we talked for a sec and then she left. She came back a couple minutes later and she was like, “Here, you get the balloon!” I never thought I would be so excited over a balloon, but when they play “IT is the end”, lead singer Spencer Charnas usually releases the balloon, so it’s kind of like a ‘rare’ Ice Nine souvenir to have, which is so dope!
Sleeping With Sirens played an acoustic song, which is interesting at a hardcore festival, but also really cool! They played cover of Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” and had everyone light up their flashlights! It was one of those festival feelings that I’ll never forget. Every opportunity that I’ve had to see Dance Gavin Dance, I’ve always missed them somehow, so it was amazing to finally be able to see them! Since I Prevail and Paramore were overlapping, everybody left the Stripes Stage to head over to the main stage. It was really sad, because we just saw I Prevail at Blue Ridge Rock Festival playing the main stage and having one of the biggest crowds of the fest! It was kind of cool, though, because it was more of an ‘intimate show’ for the fans that did stay.
We unfortunately wanted to leave the festival a little early, because for one, it was freezing and for two, we were honestly scared to walk back over to the main stages. Sadly, that meant missing Bring Me The Horizon, Paramore (one of my bucket list bands) and My Chemical Romance. I saw that My Chem kind of trolled the festival and came out with a bunch of prosthetics to make them look old!
Was When We Were Young perfect? Absolutely not… but, what festival is? I definitely think the goods outweighed the bads and these weird little kinks seemed easily fixable. I’m super excited that When We Were Young ‘23 is happening and the headliner just happens to be my all-time favorite band ever — Green Day! Here’s to hoping for another go at WWWY next year!
Photography by Heather Vandemark; recap by Kaiya Vandemark