Is The When We Were Young Festival Really The Next Fyre?

By Ashley Gross | January 28, 2022
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If you haven’t been living under a rock the last few days, you’ve probably heard about the When We Were Young Festival (allegedly) happening in Las Vegas this October. The lineup alone was enough to get people to break out the eyeliner and go back to a side part, with every major emo, alternative, and/or pop punk band from the early to mid-2000s scheduled to perform. However, once the initial excitement from the announcement wore off, the question quickly turned from “how do I get tickets and pull this off?” to “how do they pull this off?”

With 66 bands slotted to perform within the original 12 festival hours (now updated to 13), people began to wonder if it was logistically possible to fit so many acts into such a short timeframe. Several outlets reported that there would only be 3 stages, giving each band a little over 30 minutes to perform if the time was split evenly, less if the headliners played longer. That does not factor in circumstances like technical difficulties or setup/tear down between sets. Additionally, all these acts are meant to play on the same day. An eagle-eyed TikToker briefly gave hope to the elder emo community by digging into the code and finding code for “Day 2”, something that would make the timing much less tight. However, when WWWYF Day 2 was announced, the festival clarified that it was not splitting the lineup into two days; it was a “second show” with the same lineup. A third day on October 29th was added on January 24th (presale begins at 10am Pacific Time on January 31st). Finally, there was the question of if the venue could even accommodate multiple sold-out crowds—the 37 acre Las Vegas Fairgrounds is a far cry from Coachella’s (8 stages) 642 acres or Bonnaroo’s (4 stages) 700 acres.

Additional questions about the lineup (and Fyre Festival comparisons) started circulating when Senses Fail guitarist Buddy Nielsen posted an Instagram story the day the festival was announced, stating that he had “no idea” he was playing it. (Fyre Festival famously blasted a graphic displaying acts for a lineup that were never paid or confirmed for the festival.) Multiple big names like My Chemical Romance, The All-American Rejects and Paramore have all confirmed they’re playing, though people are quick to point out that, for instance, Blink-182 were also confirmed for Fyre Fest. (In fact, Blink-182 only pulled out of Fyre Festival due to Travis Barker’s fear of flying and the Fyre Festival’s inability to accommodate another mode of transportation for him to its remote location—which might say more about the band’s due diligence than the festival’s legitimacy.) But at least Live Nation, unlike Fyre Media, is a well-known entertainment company that has successfully put on countless shows. 

Also giving some fans sketchy vibes are the festival’s refund policy and wait list. The When We Were Young website states that “all tickets are final with no refunds or exchanges”, and given that General Admission tickets start at $245 (plus a $79 fee), a change of heart about attending would be costly. Even so, the festival quickly sold out, leaving many hopeful attendees disappointed and disgruntled. Some fans who didn’t quite luck out on scoring tickets were placed on a waitlist, which appeared to require them to provide payment information and would automatically charge them the full ticket price (with no option for the $20 down payment plan advertised) if a waitlist spot opened up.

All of these questions culminated in the theory that WWWYF is a scam designed so that Live Nation could pay off its legal fees incurred as a result of Astroworld, a tragedy that left 10 dead and dozens injured. It’s true that Live Nation is currently under investigation and facing multiple lawsuits for over a reported $2 billion as a result of the tragedy, but it’s also true the company has put on a number of events, and presumably earned money, since.

As for the performances, on Friday, the WWWYF website was updated to say there would be “multiple stages of varying size” and that sets would start at 11am and go until 12am. When reached for comment, Live Nation told Betches,Set times will vary with earlier bands having shorter sets and the headliners having the longest. For many festivals it is typical for earlier acts to have 20-30 minutes, while headliners often perform longer, closer to 45 to 60 minutes or more.” As far as the size of the venue, Live Nation said, “The Las Vegas Festival Grounds is a large event space that has held multiple other large scale events and festivals in the past.”

And even though WWWYF’s policy is not to offer refunds, Live Nation automatically issues refunds if an event is canceled; Front Gate Tickets, which handles the ticketing for WWWYF, appears to offer refunds if an event is canceled or rescheduled. Plus, festival tickets (and concert tickets in general) are not typically refundable for reasons outside of cancellation or postponement of the event. 

Even if Live Nation isn’t the evil genius scam corporation the internet wants them to be, they have had safety issues at some of their events. In addition to Astroworld, there are lawsuits against the company currently for the death of hip-hop artist Drakeo, the mass shooting of 58 people at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, and several other safety violations endangering cast and crew. “The safety of fans, artists and staff is thoroughly planned for among event organisers and in coordination with local authorities,” Live Nation told Betches. The company also released an official statement in which it encouraged fans to “check the festival website and socials for all of the latest updates” regarding updated safety protocols as the festival gets closer. The festival’s website now directs people with “specific questions regarding safety, security, medical, and any others” to reach out via an email address.

Bottom line: Is this festival happening? It appears so. With both festival dates being sold out and a third one in the making, it’s apparent that fans are in the business of misery okay with taking a bit of a risk in the hopes that When We Were Young is the ultimate nostalgia trip they want it to be. For the more cynical of us, we’ll have to wait until October 22nd to find out if it lives up to the hype.

Live Nation says “Additional details can be found under “Festival Information, Dates & Hours” on the festival website at whenwewereyoungfestival.com”. 

Image: Christian Bertrand / shutterstock.com

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