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When We Were Young Festival: Possible Lawsuit Waiting to Happen

By Karis Fields


Photo: Vox – Source


Upon the first initial announcement of the When We Were Young festival, many longtime emo/pop-punk fans were ecstatic. Since the end of the twenty-five year run of Vans Warped Tour in 2019 and the beginning of a global pandemic in 2020, fans hadn’t had a festival of similar nature. However, once fans started to take into account the details and logistics of this Warped Tour on steroids, they began to worry.


Before looking further into the When We Were Young festival, we should first look at its predecessor Warped Tour for those who are not familiar as well as for general extended insight. Retail brand Journeys, one of the presenting sponsors of the festival, gives a look into the history of the festival in a section of their website.


Warped Tour originally began as a music tour which featured skate-punk and third-wave ska bands and musicians in their lineup. Over the years, the lineup would gradually change to feature more pop-punk, emo, and metalcore artists, even sometimes including pop and alternative rap into the mix. Vans Warped Tour has played a vital role in propelling the careers of many of today’s most popular artists. Some of the few among them include Fall Out Boy, Katy Perry, Paramore, My Chemical Romance, and Machine Gun Kelly.


Whenever Warped Tour would travel to a city, they would hold the festival there for one day only. The run-time of each festival would span to about twelve hours. Because the festival would travel to many different locations throughout its summer tour, the concert layout had to change according to what venue they were performing. The festival would arrive at each venue early in the morning of that day’s performances, set everything up, then take everything down at the end of the event day, doing it all over again at the next venue they travel to. The number of stages at each venue would also vary based on each different location. Each festival would have anywhere between five and twenty stages being performed on throughout the day.


For example, the July 25th, 2018 show housed seven stages with performances scheduled from 11:00AM to 8:30PM. Among these stages were the Journeys Left Foot Stage, Journeys Right Foot Stage, Mutant Red Dawn Stage, Mutant White Lightning Stage, Owly.fm Stage, Full Sail Stage, and Korner Stage. A total of seventy-seven artists performed on this day.


Now that we’ve covered the basics of what Warped Tour was, let’s now look into the When We Were Young festival. LiveNation, the entertainment company that organized the festival that left ten people dead and over three hundred with both major minor injuries, the Astroworld Festival, announced the When We Were Young festival on January 18th, 2022 through an Instagram post on the festival’s page. Fan’s immediately rushed over to the festival’s website to register for ticket presales. Upon looking into the details of the festival, though, the logistics began to make absolutely no sense.


Before fan concerns eventually forced two more days to be added to the festival, it was originally intended to happen on one day for one day only on October 22nd, 2022. Now, at first glance, this doesn’t seem to be that much of an issue. Many music festivals have been held for only a day. Even though Warped Tour traveled, they would even perform for one day only in each of the cities they stopped at. However, this one day only event expected sixty-five bands to perform from 11:00AM to 12:00AM (over twelve hours).


If the logistics of this still seem to make sense to you, especially if we compare these details to the Warped Tour example given earlier in the article, you should now take into consideration the number of stages the When We Were Young festival planned to provide. Over the course of twelve hours, sixty-five performers were intended to play on three stages. This information was yet another thing that had been changed due to concerns from fans. Instead of three stages, the website now states that there will be multiple stages of varying sizes scattered across the grounds. It’s unknown, however, whether or not the information had been changed as a way of silencing criticisms or if the When We Were Young festival and LiveNation actually plan to go through with what had been changed.


Now, it would make the most sense to have these performances stretched out in a timely manner, maybe even having some bands play one day and others play on other days considering the addition of extra dates. Except, that’s not at all what this festival plans to do. The festival website continues to state that they plan to have multiple bands playing all at the same time on these stages. Additionally, they plan on having the same lineup perform for all three days.


A festival that was intended to run for one day but now has an extra two days, sixty-five performers expected to perform all three days, three stages where these performances will all be happening at the same time, and all for the general admission cost of about $245 (which, compared to the general admission cost of Warped Tour 2018 which began at $40, is absolutely insane). Somehow, this festival sounds like it’ll be far more dangerous than Astroworld was.


If there’s one thing to know for sure about the When We Were Young festival, especially considering the current information about the event, there is bound to be some form of lawsuit in the future. Whether it be from the fans who have attended or from the musicians who didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to perform at what seems to be the music festival from hell.


The live entertainment industry was hurt incredibly by the global pandemic. Many artists who had been set to perform between 2020 and 2021 had to cancel their tours, putting the industry at a huge disadvantage. Now that live entertainment has made its return, it seems that some organizations in the industry are trying to quickly make back everything they lost from holding over the top, overly priced, and overly dangerous events. Astroworld continues to be used as an example here; because it is the best example.


There is a part of me that is still holding out hope for this festival, though. As are other fans who may have even already purchased their tickets. No matter how When We Were Young plays out in October, those who attend the festival should still try to stay as safe as possible.