When We Were Young Was An Emo Kid's Utopia

When We Were Young Was An Emo Kid's Utopia

Upon its announcement, When We Were Young Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada instantly became one of the most-discussed festival lineups of the year. With heavy-hitters such as Paramore, Avril Lavigne and My Chemical Romance headlining the massive throwback festival, reactions ranged from excitement to concern.

Following the heartbreaking tragedy of Astroworld in 2021 (and a global pandemic), the future of live music – especially festivals – lingered as organizers and fans alike had to come to terms with a new normal. Despite a rocky start due to weather complications which caused the festival to cancel its first day, When We Were Young was determined to prove itself as a safe haven for emos and punks from across the world.

Set in the breezy Las Vegas Festival Grounds, When We Were Young was a beautiful celebration of the heavy music that soundtracked countless teen movies, sleepovers, Hot Topic runs and road trip karaoke sessions. Much like the magical chaos of Warped Tour (real ones remember), it was a test of time management skills to catch as many sets as possible in one day.

Most of all, the sinners, outcasts and freaks of all ages came together to bond over the bands that transcend generations. Elder emos kept a watchful eye as young punks moshed and danced. Well-worn band shirts and elaborate goth garb decorated a sea of dedicated music fans who came from all across the world to experience the magic for themselves. In the face of adversity, When We Were Young and its attendees showed the power of strength and determination.

PAPER caught up with some old favorites such as Paramore, Glassjaw and Taking Back Sunday. There was also a select few newcomers to the scene such as jxdn and Huddy, both of whom are part of a larger pop-punk renaissance that brings a tear to our eye. Relive the nostalgic bliss below, from both backstage and in the photo pit.


Tyson Ritter

Photography: Jade Gomez