When We Were Young Festival
April 8, 2016
Observatory- Orange County, CA
The first ever, When We Were Young Festival took place last weekend on April 8 & 9 outside of the Observatory in Orange County, CA.
We were there to cover Day 1 of the festivities, which you can read about below.
The festival was located in the parking lot of the music venue, The Observatory. Many concert goers were skeptical about this being the choice of venue, as previous festivals had been labeled as disasters. However, as day 1 commenced, there seemed to be no problems, after the initial hiccup in arranging and organizing the lines of fans.
The space itself was pretty big and was organized very well. Food vendors were located near port-o-potties and tables surrounded the area so people had a place to sit. Several stages stood around the venue and the VIP and drinking areas were located near the main stage and toward the back of the venue.
Also, the shuttles were a great idea and extremely convenient. There was hardly any waiting to get on the shuttle to and from the festival. This is something that is very easy to mess up on, as I’ve personally seen it happen at many events, where people are stuck outside waiting for a shuttle for an hour, but the venue and festival did a great job ensuring there were always enough busses to take everyone to and from the event.
Day 1 was rather interesting because out of ‘respect to Morrissey and his lifelong activism for animal rights’, there were no meat products sold. Vendors still provided good food, at concert prices. Food included pizza, tacos, mac n’ cheese, and more. Highlights included the ladies selling elotes and Chicharones at ‘normal’ prices, from their carts. The lines for all the food vendors were super long, as they are during all festivals.
Moving on to the important part- the music. On the main stage, the day started strong with Streetlight Manifesto. The band brought energy and excitement, and even had a circle pit going. They were a great band to kick off a slew of other amazing acts.
Cage The Elephant and AFI were the best acts of the night. Cage the Elephant brought hit after hit to When We Were Young and the crowd was loving every minute of it. During their set, was when the main stage area got more packed. Singer Matt Shultz commanded the stage & audience and his dance moves were infectious. Brad Shultz on guitar, jumped off the stage and walked alongside the barricade during Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, as fans screamed and grabbed at him. It wouldn’t be a Cage the Elephant show if Matt Shultz didn’t end up in the crowd. “Are you gonna catch me?” he asked before leaping from the stage into the arms of the fans.
AFI were definitely on the heavier side and hit When We Were Young Fest with classics, with the majority of their set being from their 2003 release Sing the Sorrow. Lead singer, Davey Havok was born to perform. Being in four bands hasn’t stopped him from giving 100% during each performance, and an AFI set is something I urge anyone to see. Hunter Burgan’s slamming of the bass and jumps, combined with Havok’s screams and Jade Puget’s spins brings such energy and excitement that it’s hard to not enjoy their performance.
Of course, Morrissey was the headliner and the reason most fans were in attendance. While many did leave during his set, or right after AFI, the hardcore fans remained. Morrissey did what Morrissey does. The hardcore fans were pleased, but personally, I was bored. After two extremely energetic sets from Cage the Elephant and AFI, the entire vibe was brought down with Morrissey. Perhaps a different headliner for day 1 would have been more appropriate to keep the energy up, but nonetheless, the music was great.
For this being the first every When We Were Young Festivals, the show seemed to run very smoothly. Bands were always on time, excluding Cage the Elephant who were 10 minutes late due to technical difficulties. The layout of the festival was good, with everything being fairly close and easy to get/navigate to. The shuttle system worked efficiently and the sound quality from the main stage was superb. All in all, I think When We Were Young Festival was a success & I’m excited to see it continue in the future.