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They Came True — My Emo Dreams Finally Came True: Here Are 18 Things That Happened At "When We Were Young" Fest

Middle school isn't an easy time for anyone. Actually, maybe I'm just saying that to make myself feel better, and the average pre-teen experience for my fellow millennials was a flourishing social life with no braces or ill-fitting Abercrombie tops in sight.

A person smiling with braces

Yeah...I didn't think so.


I personally didn't find my stride until I met a big group of like-minded ~weirdos~ in 7th grade, who had a passion for emo music, skinny jeans, black eyeliner, and oversized hoodies from Zumiez. I mean, what better way to express your angst than screaming along to Fall Out Boy in your friend's basement?!

A meme of middle school when the lights go out and it's a sqeaking bird in night vision

I'm lucky enough to still be close friends with two of these heathens, Abbie and Maggie. Here we are at the mall taking obligatory iMac selfies at the Apple store in 2008:

author and her two friends
Abbie Chepolis

And here's one in sepia with our tongues out because...duh:

  Abbie Chepolis
Abbie Chepolis

Fast forward 15 years (relationships came and went, but back pain was here to stay), we decided to take on When We Were Young festival in Las Vegas. Here was the fateful lineup last weekend:

poster with the lineup

As someone who nearly got crushed by a crowd surfer in a mosh pit at Bamboozle festival in 2008, I was definitely nervous about the vibes leading up to the event. But my nerves were relieved by waves of anticipatory nostalgia, and I was ready to rock the fuck out with my besties. Here's a play-by-play of how the day went:


1.My brother's lovely girlfriend Jess decided to sacrifice her sanity and come with us to Vegas for the weekend. Here she is with Abbie and Maggie drinking in our hotel room before 11 a.m. The intensity of this pregame would later be regretted:

everyone drinking in the hotel room
Daniella Emanuel

2.We had to snap a pic of the OG middle school crew before we headed out:

the three women posing for a photo in the room
Daniella Emanuel

3.We passed by some precious emo newlyweds as we wove through our hotel's casino:

people walking through the casino
Daniella Emanuel

4.It was 92 degrees out and the walk to the festival was way longer than we expected 😭. But...

selfie of everyone in the street
Daniella Emanuel


entrance to the festival
Abbie Chepolis

6.Unfortunately, there was no time to admire the scenery since Motion City Soundtrack was playing and we had to race to the stage. Everything was indeed NOT alright because we missed the first half of the set, but they still bopped:

the crowd in front of the band
Daniella Emanuel

7.Next up was...THE VERONICAS (of "Untouched" and "4ever" fame)!!!!!! They were in all latex and hot as fuck (literally and figuratively):

the artists on stage
Daniella Emanuel

8.This was the perfect precursor to none other than MICHELLE BRANCH:

michelle playing her guitar on stage
Daniella Emanuel

9.These two were really enjoying it:

guys wearing shirts reading, every nite is emo nite and soft as fuck harder than you
Daniella Emanuel

10.Yellowcard was when we started feeling the alcohol. I don't know if it was a good feeling or a bad feeling, but it was certainly a feeling. 🎵 IF I COULD FIND YOU NOW / THINGS WOULD GET BEEEEETTERRRRRRRRR 🎵.

the band playing on stage
Daniella Emanuel

11.We realized at around 3 p.m. that we had a two-hour period where we weren't dying to see anyone, so we decided to take a break. This is when things started to go downhill for a bit. I insisted we walk a mile to get lunch at a nice hotel, not quite aware of how dire the group vibes were. Let's just say the booze was hitting, the stomachs were growling, and the faces were glaring. See, Maggie? I'm taking the L on this one! Anyway, here we are feigning smiles while wandering aimlessly through the Wynn:

selfie of the group
Daniella Emanuel

12.After about 45 minutes of panic, we finally found food! Blessed, bank-breaking food! In the moment, it was worth every truffle fry:

two of the women sitting to eat
Daniella Emanuel

13.By the grace of god, we somehow made it back into the festival grounds for the second half of our sets. Good Charlotte thankfully came ready with the hits and special effects. Hi, Joel!

the band and the silly string-looking strings going out to the crowd
Daniella Emanuel

14.Simple Plan played all the deep cuts and frankly brought us back to life, although it might not seem that way from this pic:

selfie of the group in the crowd
Daniella Emanuel

15.Abbie and Maggie wanted to get a good spot at blink-182, and I wanted to see one of my favorites (Say Anything), so Jess and I split up from them. Thanks to our media passes, we were up close and personal with my Jewish pop-punk king, Max Bemis. The man sure knows how to work a microphone stand:

the singer on stage
Daniella Emanuel

16.Here's my obligatory dance break during their most famous song, "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too:"

the author dancing in front of the stage
Daniella Emanuel

17.Finally, it was time to head over to our last show: blink-182! For whatever reason there was no media entrance, so Jess and I chilled in the back of the GA crowd while contemplating what we wanted to eat when we got back to the hotel. I know all the popular blink-182 songs, but have never seen them in concert or listened to them extensively. Therefore, I had no idea that their shtick was being kinda mean 😂. They were like, "Las Vegas has some of the world's hottest women. Too bad they couldn't make it tonight," and we were like "😲." And then they talked a lot about Travis Barker's alleged big penis that they call "the hammer" and made jokes about banging each other's moms. All in good fun I guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯:

closeup of the singer also playing guitar on stage
Daniella Emanuel

Jess and I dipped out early to beat the crowd, but Abbie got this sick shot of the fireworks at the end of their show:

the fireworks above the stage
Abbie Chepolis

And H/T to Matty Vogel for snapping this epic pic of the boys:

blink-182 playing on stage
Matty Vogel / When We Were Young

18.With a few snack stops and anti-nausea meds to get us through the drive, we made it back to LA in one piece the next day:

selfie in the car
Daniella Emanuel

Despite my blisters, backache, and exhaustion from the weekend, I can't stop smiling whenever I think about it. Yeah, 2007 might be long gone, but emo will never die.

arrow pointing to someone's shirt reading, emo's not dead
Daniella Emanuel