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Publié le 14 Nov 2023 par

This review was made by my dear and precious friend Stephanie. I hope you guys enjoy it as mush as I do.

when we were young
Credit: When We Were Young

When we were young 2023 croud
Credit: Quinn Tucker • Quasar Media (@quasarmedia) • Photos et vidéos Instagram

The beginning of my When We Were Young experience

 I remember when Live Nation announced the first edition of « When We Were Young. » Vero and I were literally screaming. The problem? The tickets were insanely pricey (and didn’t take into account the fact we had to fly to Las Vegas and pay for hotels there), and the lineup was too good to be true. So good, in fact, that a rumor started spreading on Reddit that this was going to be a Fyre Fest 2. Did it stop us from getting tickets? Absolutely not.

It actually added some sort of thrill to the whole thing. After discussing the possibilities, we decided to secure passes but get our hotels independently from the fest. Like this, if it was a monumental failure, we could still enjoy Vegas: Win-win.

What about the schedule ?

Adding to the feeling it was going to be Fyre Fest 2, the schedule wasn’t out until about 4 days before the event. We were getting increasingly nervous. We were on the plane on the way to Vegas when the first day got canceled due to a wind storm (we were attending the last of three). How convenient. I thought that all of that was the reason why we got so impressed by the organization when we finally attended, two days later. I mean, when you think you are going to such a shitshow and end up having the time of your life, it’s fair to ask if the contrast is the reason why you were so amazed.

When We Were Young flyer
Credit: When We Were Young

Round two

The ticket secured for this second (punk-rock) edition a year in advance, Vero and I both felt more confident about the whole thing. We arrived in Vegas a day before, more than excited by the prospect of seeing all these amazing bands that shaped our teenage years. After a few hours prepping (we couldn’t attend without switching to Y2K fashion), we were walking on the strip in the direction of the festival fairgrounds. If last year felt like Vegas wasn’t ready for us, they really gave it their all for this edition. Punk-rock and emo music was coming from every hotel, bar, and even cars driving by. People were dressed up, decorations were set up everywhere. Vegas was emo-ified.

It just hyped us up even more for what was about to come. As we were expecting a bit of a wait at the entrance, we stopped to get some drinks at a street bar nearby. It was now 11:30, and the sun was blasting at 38 degrees Celsius, reminding us that we were in the desert. Drinks in hand, we walked straight to the merch tent and were able to buy our goods 25 minutes later. Thirty more minutes, and we were now inside the festival. Not bad at all for an event hosting 80 thousand people.

merch stand when we were young
The merch stand


Like the year before, there was zero waiting time for toilets, water refill, bars, and food – something I had never experienced at any other festival. There was even an app where you could like the bands you wanted to attend, and it would notify you with the stage name and time 10 minutes before they came on. I have to say that this year, Vero and I felt like there were more people, though. This was due to the insane lineup and the fact that most of these headliners were playing on the pink and green stages. Because most of the crowd was gathering there, it was hard to leave to go to smaller stages and return without being completely at the back.

Hydratation station
Hydratation station

The layout of the festival ground was a bit different from the year before, too. It made more sense for the General Admission (you could easily move from Pink to Green stage), but we heard lots of VIPs complain. They had a section at each stage, but no private space to move from one to the other (cry me a river, y’all). We also had lockers (and extra we paid for, as the desert temperature can drop to one digit at night) that we ended up not going back to until the very end of the fest.

My wish list

The cemetery


We arrived during Yellowcard. We decided to grab food, drinks, and sit in the cemetery (one of the several shaded areas the festival had set up for their elderly emos). Last year, we could see the stage from there, but unfortunately, this year it wasn’t as well-located. We ate with the band playing in the background, my last bite of pizza coinciding with the last notes of « Ocean Avenue. »

5 seconds of summer

After we had cooled down a few more minutes in the shade, we decided to move towards the green stage – a strategic position to get close for when Sum 41 and Good Charlotte would play, later on. I didn’t know 5 Seconds of Summer very well, but I ended up having such a great time. They set the ambiance with a great performance and a huge dice rolling through the crowd – a very cute shoutout to the gambling city. We met lots of other festival-goers in this area, and they rapidly became our fest buddies for the rest of the night.

The stage area

All Time Low 

I had to pee when 5 Seconds of Summer ended, but All Time Low started their set with their most well-known song, « Dear Maria, Count Me In. » The crowd was ecstatic – caught by surprise. People were jumping, screaming their lungs out, until… Alex (the singer) stopped the song mid-beat. « You didn’t think we would be starting with this song, right? That’s not how we do things! » They moved to another song, my cue to make a move towards the bathroom.

As it was in a straight line to the left, I was pretty confident I would be able to make my way back to Vero in no time. We still set up a meeting spot, in case I wasn’t able to come back. I started walking towards it when I got stopped by a gate. Damn it. I now had to make my way to the back to get around it. This was going to make it quite harder for me to find Vero after. I entered the bathroom and went to a stall directly. Another perk of this incredibly well-organized fest: there is always paper, and everything is super clean.

I was out 3 minutes later, trying to fight my way through the crowd. Vero was wearing a full checker suit (from head to toe, literally), so we thought it would be easy for me to spot her. It wasn’t. Turns out EVERYONE WEARS CHECKERS IN AN EMO FEST.

I was getting closer, though. I had spotted a few landmarks to help me find my way back. In parallel with the big inflatable bear, in front of the right speaker tower. I was there. « Fake as Hell » was now playing, the jumping crowd making it harder for me to spot Vero, who was smaller than the average attendee. After mistaking another full-checker girl for her, I finally saw Vero way in the front. That’s when « Sk8er Boi » came on. I froze.

Avril Lavigne was now on the stage, a heavenly figure descending from punk-rock paradise. I pushed through everyone, jumped on Vero, who was already crying. The queen had canceled her show last year, and we were devastated. Seeing her here, now, was absolutely out of this world. This day was just getting better by the minute. The band finished with a bunch of other classics (like « Monsters » and « Dear Maria » – the complete version, this time), leaving us pumped for Sum 41.

Sum 41  

Sum 41 came on the stage and understood the assignment more than any other bands present. « We aren’t going to play any new songs: you guys are here for nostalgia, that’s what we’re going to give you. » They played only old songs (from « Motivation, » « The Hell Song, » « In Too Deep » to « Fat Lip » and « Still Waiting« ) and gave us a performance as high in energy as when they were younger. Deryck definitely raised the bar for all the singers coming, extracting as much nostalgia as he could from the short time he was allowed on stage.

Rise Against

Next was Rise Against. I was super excited to finally see them live, but the sound was unfortunately terrible for them. I don’t know what happened, as it was the same stage All Time Low played on previously, but we couldn’t hear any instruments properly. His voice was also fading in and out – a real shame as he is known for having a very clear and unique tone.

By that point, we were closer to the stages than we’d been since we arrived, yet it felt like we were miles away. I was getting nervous that the sound wouldn’t be fixed on time for Blink, but halfway through the show, it seemed to have gotten better. To be very honest, this was the most disappointing performance to me. I was eager for it to stop, even more so as Good Charlotte was next.

Good Charlotte

I used to listen to GC every day back when I was in high school. It just spoke to me on another level than any other bands from this era could. As I watched the drum set roll onto the stage, I had an immense feeling of joy taking me over. Good Charlotte was definitely the band I was most looking forward to tonight. For the occasion, I was even wearing a pink stripe in my hair and a chain necklace closed by a locker around my neck – a shoutout to Benji’s younger years.

The band appeared on stage, and the crowd went mental. They started with « The Anthem, » and every one of us screamed the lyrics as loud as we could. There was fire everywhere on stage, mosh pits around me, and smiles on every face. I was almost blind to the fact that they weren’t giving the best show of the night.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: the music was tight, the sound was great, and they were definitely bringing us nostalgia. But did they give all that they had? I don’t think so. The interaction with the crowd was minimal, and their energy on stage was lacking. I was still very happy to finally see them live, to be able to sing « Hold On, » « Just Wanna Live, » and « Little Things » with other GC lovers, but their performance was overall disappointing to me. Maybe I expected too much?

Good Charlotte

30 Seconds to Mars

When Good Charlotte finished, Vero decided to move to a smaller stage to see Simple Plan. After turning my head and seeing the amount of people in the crowd now, I decided to skip and stay close to the front stage. Unfortunately for me, that meant I had to stay for 30 Seconds to Mars.

Fortunately for me, I had just met a very hot skater boy named Jesse, who was about to share my rage for that terrible band while entertaining me with his jokes and eye-candy look. After about 10 minutes getting acquainted with my dreamy man, Jared Leto made his appearance on stage dressed up as some sort of power ranger on crack. I rolled my eyes. I wondered aloud to Jesse how a guy like this could manage to get so many followers, an allusion to the cult he created with the band back in 2019 and the allegations of pedophilia and sexual misconduct he got years earlier.

The music was as bad as I remembered, and to my somewhat big surprise, it felt like I wasn’t the only one feeling like it. The crowd was not moving. Every time the camera cut to us, it would cut back immediately to the stage – a ruse to avoid showing that no one was enjoying their time. In all the other bands so far, we were fighting body surfs, mosh pits, or just following along with the jumping crowd – regardless of if the show was happening on the pink or green stage. Right now, the crowd was dead. As if all of us were there only to secure a good spot for the bands that were about to come after. I looked at my watch. « This guy isn’t even singing. He just talks. » If it hadn’t been for Jesse, I would have left already.

I needed to pee, but I knew that if I was leaving, I would not be able to make it back. The crowd was way too packed. I had no choice though; there was no way I could stick through more songs of this terrible band, plus the whole setlist of The Offspring before Blink 182. I looked at Jesse one last time. « I need to go pee, I’ll try to come back. » « I’ll stay here. » We hugged, and as I walked back through the crowd, we held hands until the last second, like from a scene in a movie. I had to push my way through the crowd for about 10 minutes before I finally made it to the bathroom. Once again, there was absolutely no wait there. Loving this.

The Offspring

When I made my way out, The Offspring were already playing, and I realized that I wouldn’t be able to find my spot next to Jesse. There were way too many people now. Goodbye, pretty boy. I tried to text Vero to see if we could meet somewhere, not very hopeful that there would be any signal at all. But it did!

We were able to roughly tell where we were and meet up in the next 5 minutes. We watched the show together, singing our lungs out with the crowd that all knew every single song they played (not very hard, as most of them were hits). They gave such a good show that I almost forgot that I was missing Thrice, who was playing on another stage at the same time. From « The Kids Aren’t Alright » to « Why Don’t You Get a Job » and « Self Esteem, » the time flew by so fast I could swear that they only played ten minutes.

Blink 182

We decided to move closer for Blink 182, but couldn’t reach the spot we had for Sum 41 and GC. Nevertheless, we were able to see very well and were very excited about what was about to come. When Blink made their entrance on stage, we could feel the energy all around.

They started with « Anthem Part Two » and then went straight into « The Rock Show. » I had a thought for Jesse while singing the lyrics as loudly as I could. Blink continued with a mix of new and old songs, such as « Feeling This » and « Violence. » I felt like Tom‘s voice wasn’t as great as on the records, but they were putting on quite a show, and their presence was amazing.

They embodied our teenage years perfectly and acted just as I would have assumed they would: like 23-year-old guys cracking jokes about fucking your mom. When « Alien Exists » came on, the backdrop of the stage revealed a newspaper with the words: « He was right. Government confirms suspicion: Alien exists! We found it, can we fuck it?« 

blink 182
Blink 182

It was a nice nod to Tom Delonge’s reason for leaving Blink in the first place and the conversations Tom had with several government officials that got him permission to post three air force videos of unidentified objects flying on his website ‘To the Stars.’ These videos then became viral and are now the reason why several press conferences about « unidentified flying objects » are in progress in the Pentagon.

After the song, Tom and Mark made several jokes about aliens and then continued the show with hits like « Stay Together for the Kids, » « I Miss You, » « What’s My Age Again, » « First Date, » « All the Small Things, » and « Dammit. » They closed the show with their new song « One More Time, » which made literally everyone cry (I blame it on the video montage of them from their beginning in Blink to now, playing in the background). The finale was enhanced with fireworks and lots of love and cheers from a very satisfied crowd.

My friend Mélodie wrote a review about the return of Blink 182 in Montreal click here to read it


Green day

After Blink’s epic performance, Vero and I decided to retreat to one of the numerous sitting areas the festival had set up. Not to anyone’s surprise, we had to play Tetris to find ourselves a spot. We were both tired from being on our feet since the morning, under the blazing 38-degree heat. And clearly, we weren’t the only ones.

Green Day started their show with a cover of « Bohemian Rhapsody, » an amazing choice to make everyone realize that probably every single one of us had sung it at least once in a karaoke. Green Day was never my favorite band (I cannot pinpoint why), but they gave an amazing show, maintaining the same energy throughout the 21 songs they played. From « American Idiot » to « Good Riddance, » they were the perfect finale for the most well-organized and entertaining festival I have ever attended.

When nostalgia hits you hard

In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say that aliens are real and so is time travel. This festival delivered an epic throwback to when we were young, playing on nostalgia and the very real fact that it was never just a phase. It made us laugh, cry, and even « fall in love » at the rock show. To all the bands and organizers, thank you for bringing us back to our childhood.

Vero and  me
Vero and me

Writing by: Stephanie Roy

Layout : Mélodie Martel