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9 Moments You May Have Missed At When We Were Young Fest 2023

When We Were Young Fest 2023
[Photos via Press]

This past weekend’s When We Were Young Fest sizzled under the scorching sun in Las Vegas, NV, as it kicked off on Saturday, October 21, and emerged as the ultimate pop-punk playground for fans of all generations. In contrast to last year’s weather-related cancellation on the first day, this year’s festival ran seamlessly, cementing its place in the annals of pop-punk history as a spirited showcase of pop-punk prowess.

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Featuring a riveting lineup that ranged from rising stars such as Beach Bunny, KennyHoopla, and Jean Dawson to seasoned pop-punk icons, including Green Day, blink-182, Simple Plan, and Bowling For Soup, When We Were Young Fest catered to the tastes of every music lover. The event brimmed with unexpected moments and artist collaborations, leaving us exhilarated to have witnessed them all. 

Here are 9 standout moments from the unforgettable When We Were Young Fest 2023 that you might have missed.

Mark Hoppus Performing With His “Lettuce” Guitar For The First Time In 20 Years

Among the When We Were Young Fest headliners, the iconic blink-182 trio stood out as a monumental act, and they had something special in store for their fans that no one could have anticipated. While on stage, Mark Hoppus unveiled a piece of punk rock history, playing his legendary “Lettuce” guitar for the first time in two decades. Hoppus’ “Lettuce” guitar was famously used during blink-182’s meteoric rise in the early aughts but hasn’t been used for a performance since those years.

The “Lettuce” guitar seemed to have a life of its own, and as Hoppus played it, there was an undeniable surge of nostalgia and pure punk rock energy that coursed through the festival. It’s the small things, isn’t it?

5 Seconds Of Summer Performing “End Up Here” Live For The First Time Since 2017

5 Seconds Of Summer played “End Up Here” in 2023?! Yep, you heard that correctly. At When We Were Young Fest this past weekend, the band threw a giant inflatable dice into the crowd with these song choices on each side of the dice: “End Up Here,” “Out Of My Limit,” “Voodoo Doll,” “English Love Affair,” “Heartbreak Girl,” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger.” They brought this new dice exclusively for When We Were Young Fest, adding “End Up Here” and “Out Of My Limit.” The group’s old dice that they used for their The 5 Seconds Of Summer Show: World Tour 2023 included different songs: “Voodoo Doll,” “If You Don’t Know,” “Heartache On The Big Screen,” “English Love Affair,” “Heartbreak Girl,” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger.” 

From the stage, 5SOS instructed the crowd to throw the dice around for 90 seconds before sending it back to the stage when the timer ran out, and if they didn’t, then the band would choose which surprise song they’d play. Since the dice was still being passed around before the timer ran out, 5SOS chose to play “End Up Here”—a song from their self-titled pop-punk debut—that they haven’t performed live since 2017. 

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It was unreal getting to hear them play this deep cut—and in the year 2023! The crowd went wild for the song selection, jumping and singing along for the band’s first performance at WWWY. Witnessing this in person brought back so many memories for the fans, and while their WWWY performances were their last shows of the year, they couldn’t have ended it on a better note.

Cassadee Pope Performing With Yellowcard, Michelle Branch, & Simple Plan

Although Cassadee Pope wasn’t officially billed on the 2023 When We Were Young line-up, she was quite the hot commodity all weekend long. Her vocal harmonies were a beautiful contribution to several acts over the course of the festival. Pope hopped on stage with her long-time buddies in Yellowcard to deliver a gut-punching version of their popular song, “Only One.” Back in 2011, when Pope was still fronting Hey Monday, she went out on tour with The Summer Set to support Yellowcard and All Time Low. While she didn’t perform with them then, Sunday’s performance felt like an amazing full-circle moment between a group of real friends. You could tell it was not only nostalgic for fans but for them as well. 

Cassadee Pope also joined Michelle Branch for “Are You Happy Now?” on the Stripe Stage. Pope told idobi in an exclusive interview that it was a surreal experience as she’s been a fan of Branch her whole life. 

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To wrap up her guest appearances, Pope took the stage with Simple Plan to bring fans a special performance of “I’m Just A Kid.” This performance, in particular, was chaotic in the best way, featuring not only Cassadee Pope but also Jax, MxPx/Goldfinger’s Mike Herrera, Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick, and Plain White T’s Tom Higgenson. Festivals always feel like a party, but this was on another level. Talk about a crossover. 

Magnolia Park & Arrows In Action Covering Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down”

Nothing warms our hearts more than when two bands support and love each other through all things. Magnolia Park and Arrows In Action have quite the bond. From touring together to collaborating on their track “The Credits,” you can sense the camaraderie from miles away. On Sunday, the two bands joined forces to bring us a cover of Fall Out Boy’s iconic track, “Sugar, We’re Goin Down.” 

Typically, in these guest appearances, it is usually just the vocalist who jumps in to sing a verse or two. This wasn’t the case for Magnolia Park and Arrows In Action. Both frontman Victor Viramontes-Pattison and guitarist Matthew Fowler joined Magnolia Park to deliver the cover. It was electric. Ear-to-ear grins from all members were projected on the big screen, boasting a contagious amount of good vibes to everyone in the crowd. You couldn’t help but smile while singing along. Magnolia Park is currently in the midst of a headline tour with support from TX2, poptropicaslutz!, and 408, and Arrows in Action is set to support The Summer Set on their UK tour next month. You don’t want to miss either of these bands live. 

Thirty Seconds To Mars & Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath Performing “This Is War”

After Rise Against put on an exhilarating performance on the Pink Stage on Day 1 of When We Were Young Fest, vocalist Tim McIlrath stayed close to witness Thirty Seconds To Mars in all of their glam emo glory. However, one of the most powerful moments of the festival was when McIlrath joined Jared Leto on stage to perform “This Is War”—a perfect song selection given Rise Against’s political ethos and lyrical messages.

The performance ignited with a powerful chant that stirred the crowd’s passion, their voices rising in unison, proclaiming, “This is war, this is war, this is war,” while fists were defiantly thrust towards the sky. Leto and McIlrath converged for the song’s chorus, singing, “To the right, to the left/We will fight to the death/To the edge of the earth/It’s a brave new world/From the last to the first.” As the two powerhouse vocalists brought the performance to an epic conclusion, the audience seamlessly melded their voices into a harmonious crescendo, uniting with Leto and McIlrath for the final chorus and the resounding outro.

Avril Lavigne’s Surprise Performance With All Time Low For “Fake As Hell” & “Sk&er Boi”

After a regrettable cancellation of her second-weekend appearance at When We Were Young in 2022, Avril Lavigne made a triumphant return to the festival and the stage this year as a surprise guest to perform alongside All Time Low. Stepping onto the stage, clad in black leather and platform boots that sent her towering over the crowd, she and the band delivered a show-stopping performance of their recent collaboration, “Fake As Hell,” together. However, the surprises didn’t stop there as the pop-punk princess then launched into a high-energy performance of her 2002 hit single, “Sk8er Boi,” sending the audience into a state of straight euphoria and nostalgia.

As ATL graciously stepped aside to allow Lavigne to take the throne at center stage (figuratively, of course), the crowd erupted, singing every line in unison with her as the band provided the perfect musical backdrop to her. Here’s to hoping this Sk8er Grl fits the bill for WWWY 2024.

Waterparks Performing “Sneaking Out Of Heaven” In America For The First Time

As Waterparks had been “Sneaking Out Of Heaven” across Australia, building anticipation for the official release of their latest track earlier in the month, When We Were Young Fest served as the grand stage for the U.S. live performance debut of this electrifying anthem.

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The performance burst to life with the unmistakable vocals of Awsten Knight, his voice slicing through the air like a sonic weapon. The crowd reached a fever pitch as his fiery red hair bounced at center stage, truly setting their performance ablaze. Watching the charismatic Knight and Co. over the last several years, it’s clear the trio has mastered their on-stage formula and finesse to reach the level of true fucking rockstars with every calculated move. And yes, we’re certain everything they do, while shrouded in mystery and hidden messages, is entirely calculated.

Tony Hawk Performing “Superman” With Goldfinger

We all knew Tony Hawk could skate a pipe, but who knew he HAD pipes!? For a lot of us emo kids, Tony Hawk is the reason we love the music that we do. It is all thanks to the absolutely kickass soundtracks across his video games over the late nineties and early 2000’s. Tony Hawk Underground, Tony Hawk American Wasteland, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, and more all were chock-full of alternative rock and pop punk songs. The original 1999 Tony Hawk Pro Skater boasted the track “Superman” by Goldfinger. So, needless to say, when Tony Hawk joined Goldfinger this weekend at When We Were Young to perform the song with them, it was a childhood dream come true for all of us. 

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It was cool enough to see Tony Hawk take on the X Games vert ramp. However, seeing him actually get on stage and sing was totally wild. Hawk made sure to call out the importance of the song saying, “I not only want to thank When We Were Young Fest for believing in us enough to have my ramp here. I especially want to thank Goldinger and Feldy (John Feldmann) for writing the song that became the unquestionable theme to our video game soundtrack. You guys wanna hear it?” Hell yeah, we want to hear it! 

Cobra Starship & The Academy Is… Reuniting For “Bring It! (Snakes On A Plane)”

Emo hearts were heard breaking across the globe as Cobra Starship’s Gabe Saporta and The Academy Is…’s William Beckett joined forces on stage to literally and figuratively bring it to When We Were Young Fest. As The Academy Is… took to the stage for fan favorites such as “Slow Down” and “About A Girl,” Beckett and Co. called out their longtime friend, Gabe Saporta, to resurrect their 2006 hit single “Bring It! (Snakes On A Plane).” We’d love to tell you we were ready for this moment, but nothing can describe how satisfying and sweet this moment was to witness in the year 2023. By far, one of the greatest highlights of the festival!

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And while we would have absolutely loved to see Gym Class Heroes frontman Travie McCoy, who appears on the original release, join Beckett and Saporta on stage, the iconic trio offered fans a little something to make up for it. On Sunday night, as the festival began to come to a close, Saporta shared a heartwarming photo of himself with Beckett and McCoy and instantly transported fans back to the days of shudder shades, oversized scarves, and neon skinny jeans. We’re crossing our fingers we’ll have a chance to see these three back in action very, very soon.

Green Day Debuting Their New, Unreleased Song “Look Ma, No Brains!”

According to a TikTok fan account, Green Day‘s highly-anticipated follow-up single to “The American Dream Is Killing Me” began gaining traction on social media following the band’s electrifying performance at a sold-out undersell show in Las Vegas, NV, on Thursday, October 19. The track, titled “Look Ma, No Brains!,” is an irresistibly catchy and tongue-in-cheek pop-punk anthem—would you expect anything less from the legendary trio? It made its official live debut as Green Day headlined When We Were Young Fest. The surprise new single left the crowd in raptures as Billie Joe Armstrong bellowed through the mic, “I said look ma, I ain’t got no brains/I’m a goner and I don’t feel no pain/I’m stupid and I’m all by myself/Cause I’m special and I don’t need your help.”

Following the official release of “The American Dream Is Killing Me,” the band shared, “Lots more coming sooner than you think aka Nov 2nd.” We’re hoping this signals the official release of “Look Ma, No Brains!”. But in the meantime, we’ll continue sinking our teeth into the band’s WWWY performance.

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