The “When We Were Young” festival in Las Vegas that took place the weekend of Oct. 21 brought together the emo and pop punk legends of the early 2000s in an epic two-day festival.

The show boasted performances by groups like Green Day, Blink-182, Dashboard Confessional, My Chemical Romance, and Paramore. This was the first time a festival of this magnitude was held with a massive lineup and adult emo and pop punk fans everywhere clamored to attend.

Most notable among these fans were the fans of Paramore. Paramore is led by vocalist Hayley Williams. This year is the first year since 2018 that Paramore has performed live in concert, and many fans had never seen the group live. Williams performed some of her staples, like “Misery Business” and “Here We Go Again” as well as newer songs like “That is Why.” They also performed the 2009 track “All I Wanted” for the first time ever live.

However, the setlist and festival were not the highlights of the weekend. Before her performance, Williams gave a history lesson about punk rock and her experience with it. She lamented that by the time Paramore started up, the punk rock scene had become exclusionary of young women, People of Color, and the queer community.

“The scene was not always a safe place to be if you were different. If you were a young woman, a person of color, if you were queer. And that’s really f***** up if you think about it because this was supposed to be the safe space,” Williams said.

The roots of punk rock were anti-establishment.

“I can think of nothing more anti-establishment than young women, people of color, and the queer community,” she said to a chorus of cheers from the audience. “I want to say to you … there is space for you now. We’re gonna keep doing whatever we can do among our friends and our peers on this scene to make it feel safe for every single one of you out there.”

Williams wasn’t just all talk. Halfway through her set, she stopped a song because an audience member had passed out. She called on security to run to the person’s aid and ensured they were taken care of before continuing her set. She also excluded the word “whore” from her classic “Misery Business,” covering her mouth and wagging her finger instead.

Williams and Paramore are currently on tour and will be performing in St. Augustine on Nov. 16. The group is doing an international tour through 2023. However, all of their domestic tour dates are sold out, showing that Paramore is here to stay.


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