CCA Pulse Magazine
Nostalgia Fest | Zoey Preston
If you’ve been on social media in the past couple of weeks, chances are you’ve heard of the “When We Were Young” fest. A mysterious festival with a lineup that seemed too good to be true was floating around my Instagram feed, and needless to say, I was intrigued. It’s advertised using a 2000s-Esque black-and-pink skull-and-crossbones aesthetic, a nostalgia trip to millennials who peaked in 2005, and any emo teen’s dream. It’s headlined by pop-rock icons My Chemical Romance and Paramore, featuring over 60 artists all over the pop-punk-alt spectrum, from The Garden to Ice Nine Kills to Car Seat Headrest to Avril Lavigne and everything in between. And, slapped across the top of the poster is a peculiarly low $19.99 price; Needless to say, people were overjoyed. But is it too good to be true?
On January 21, when the presale opened and tickets were not in fact 20 bucks, fans began to question the festival’s validity. More details emerged: The $19.99 they advertised was a downpayment for a $224.99 general admission ticket, nonrefundable. It was a classic case of misleading advertising. The festival’s length and location were revealed as well--it would be one day long and held at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds.
Looking at the star-studded lineup, most people imagined the festival would be split into several days, like they do at Coachella and Kaaboo. A single-day festival sounded extremely questionable as over 60 acts will be splitting three stages in one 12 hour day.
We have to ask ourselves, is that even possible?
If you break down the math, no. It’s not. It’s highly improbable at the very least and would be extremely difficult to pull off. There are 60 artists and 3 stages, so let’s say that every stage will have 20 artists play. If we divide the 12 hours between them, that gives 36 minutes for each artist, including time to set up and takedown, which depending on the artist, could be more or less time. As a lot of these artists are punk rock bands that would require a full band setup, it would be reasonable to assume that their setups would generally take longer. And, when we take into consideration that the bigger headliners will likely be playing longer sets, most bands will probably only have time to play three or four songs.
Recently, they’ve decided to extend the festival to be three days long, but it’s not to spread out the artists and give more time. They’re repeating the same lineup, with the same 60 artists, again twice more in order to sell more tickets. It looks like a cash-grab, if you ask me.
It’s difficult to imagine a festival packed full of so many acts in one day being able to run smoothly, or even run at all. The juxtaposition of expectation and reality makes the whole thing feel very sketchy, especially considering that the event is hosted by Live Nation.
Live Nation has a history of poor planning and dangerous concerts. Recently, they were at the center of a controversy surrounding their festival Astroworld when overcrowding killed eight people in the audience. A $2 billion lawsuit was filed against headliners Travis Scott and Drake, as well as the organizers, Apple Music, and Live Nation. While Travis Scott took a lot of the blame for the tragedy in the media, some believe that Live Nation are the ones truly at fault for having poor crowd control and continuing the concert even after the tragedy happened.
When We Were Young fest could very well be a ploy to profit off the pop-punk scene in order to get money and pay off lawsuits. This isn’t the first time the music industry has tried to take advantage of the punk scene; the Tramp Stamps were a blatantly obvious plant designed to appeal to punk girls. They were bullied off the internet, but the sentiment remains: The industry sees pop-punk as a profitable niche.
All of this begs the question: Is When We Were Young festival really a scam? Only time will tell.