While my sinuses are grateful to have left the desert heat, I’m reeling with a specific type of comedown from this year’s When We Were Young festival. It’s two days of the year I spend relishing an amalgamation of gut-wrenching nostalgia pangs, and realizing how much of my brain’s storage has been put to work holding onto Relient K lyrics instead of my social security number. And I have to add, there’s certainly nowhere else I feel more seen and understood than in a crowd of people who, just like me, hoard Good Dye Young products and never shy away from a pyramid stud. Of course, this year was no laughing matter when it came to emo music icons, and creating moments where all of the Warped Tour worlds could collide.
And collide they did, and then some: from hip-hop legends to pop-punk royalty, audiences were constantly surprised as they stood in the crowd at each of the four stages throughout the weekend, watching Lil Wayne singing “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” with Good Charlotte, seeing Avril Lavigne crash the All Time Low set, and Steve Aoki collab with Yellowcard. Green Day kicked the entire weekend off with a Dookie album play, and in lockstep with blink-182, each announced a 2024 stadium tour and performed new music that had yet to be played live at the festival. Alongside the greats, exciting younger acts hit the desert too this year, artists who we’ve seen so astutely interpret this corner of alt music we’ve always loved in modern and insightful ways — from Jean Dawson to the Wrecks, EKKSTACY to KennyHoopla.
Though it’s easy to get emotional, no pun intended, that the weekend’s a wrap, we can at least revel in the gifts it gave us, and look forward to the year ahead, full of anniversary album plays, our favorite bands hitting the road, and new music — breadcrumbs that will satisfy that nostalgic itch we all have, at least until next October.