On January 18 2022, posts about a “When We Were Young” festival created social media hype across platforms with a virally popular promotional flyer; KnowYourMeme.com described the event as an “Emo Fyre Festival”:
In addition to users’ posts about the When We Were Young festival, and unverified Twitter account created in January 2022 (@WWWYFest) quickly accumulated followers. It sole post on January 18 2022 included the circulating promotional image:
Google Trends data for January 19 and 20 2022 indicated significant search volume for “When We Were Young Festival” and “Astroworld,” along with:
- “When We Were Young festival fake”;
- “When We Were Young festival legit”;
- “When We Were Young” festival scam,” and;
- “Is When We Were Young festival real?”
Complicating matters was the fact that the majority of discourse in music news and on social media stemmed from circulating promotional images, rather than any sort of official announcement. What looked to be an official website for the event, whenwewereyoungfestival.com, was first created on December 6 2021, a little more than a month before the event went viral.
Text at the top of the page promised tickets “starting at $19.99 down,” evidently referencing a down payment (as package prices for the one-day festival went up to $499.99). A section titled “Festival Information, Dates & Hours” described a 13-hour long event:
When We Were Young takes place October 22nd, 2022 at Las Vegas Festival Grounds in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Festival hours are 11AM to 12AM
In less than a day, discussions around the When We Were Young festival developed a skeptical tenor. A post to Reddit’s r/poppunkers questioned the feasibility of the lineup in the context of the event’s parameters, concerns reiterated on other subreddits:
Concurrent posts addressed similar points about the length of the sets, referenced a circulating claim that the When We Were Young festival was “organized by the same company as Astroworld” and “like Fyre Festival all over again”:
On Twitter, users also mentioned a purported association with the deadly Astroworld festival, speculating the abrupt organization of an apparently massive event was a scheme to finance Astroworld-related litigation:
On January 19 2021, Chron.com reported that what looked like a hastily-organized When We Were Young festival was indeed linked to Astroworld through Live Nation. The outlet further noted that Live Nation did not respond to a request for comment about safety at the event following Astroworld:
… for some [fans,] the excitement of October ’s Las Vegas throwback concert turned to skepticism after learning Live Nation would be organizing the event.
The entertainment company was also behind the planning, staffing and communications of the now infamous Astroworld Festival on Nov. 5  that ended in the deaths of 10 concert-goers and hundreds of injuries. Live Nation now faces multiple lawsuits seeking damages in excess of $10 billion alleging the organizer failed to provide adequate safety for fans.
Live Nation has not disclosed what changes, if any, have been made to improve safety at its concerts since Astroworld. However, the organizer increased the age limit at its Rolling Loud California event in December to ages 18 and older, alluding to the deadly night in Houston as the reason for the change. The company did not respond to a request for comment at the time of this writing.
Newsweek.com reported that Live Nation was organizing the festival, and also was unable to obtain comment from the organization. KVVU-TV (in Las Vegas) echoed concerns about Live Nation’s involvement, and referenced logistical concerns with the length of the festival and the number of purported acts involved — as did an Imgur screenshot:
By January 18 2022, the initial excitement about the sudden appearance of the When We Were Young festival had shifted. People questioned the logistics of the large lineup, and commenters debated the cost of tickets, which had yet to go on sale as of January 20 2022. Not long after the When We Were Young festival emerged seemingly from the ether, fans also correctly noted it was being organized by Live Nation — the entertainment company behind the November 2021 Astroworld disaster. Rumors the event had “red flags” remained unresolved, but the involvement of Live Nation was confirmed. Live Nation wasn’t mentioned on the landing page of WhenWeWereYoung.com, but a “Terms & Conditions” link in the footer led to a Live Nation domain.