The hotly anticipated festival – co-headlined by My Chemical Romance and described as “an epic line-up of emo and rock bands from the past two decades” – debuted in Las Vegas yesterday (October 22). The first event was initially set to go down on Friday (October 21), but was cancelled an hour before gates opened due to weather warnings.
For all three of its dates, Paramore are closing out the festival’s Pink Stage, performing an hourlong set at 9:40pm. Reflecting on the band’s journey to this point, Williams opened up about the significance of Paramore’s billing in a handwritten letter shared to her Instagram Story. “To grow up in this scene was not a simple thing,” she wrote. “To be celebrating it (and to be celebrated by it) is not a simple thing. Nothing about this life – for you, me, or anyone – is simple.
“We fell in love with this subset of post-punk and hardcore likely because nothing else moved us. We didn’t fit in other places. To be a young girl in love with this scene was to have the hope that I might find my own way to belong. It took years to find that belonging. It’s taken a lot of unlearning. A lot of untangling knots I didn’t even know were there.
“What I did know was that for every ‘Take off your top!’ or snarky punkzine review… For every dramatic headline pinned on my name, or any season of self-doubt… No one was going to define Paramore but Paramore.”
Williams went on to celebrate Paramore’s “legend” status in the rock and alternative scenes, noting: “Nearly 20 years later, we find ourselves a pillar of the very scene that threatened to reject us. And me.”
She noted that the band “never banked on trends”, “nostalgia” or Williams’ own star power, remaining staunch on their ethos of only following “exactly what we knew was real for us”. She continued to assert that as Paramore geared up to headline a festival appealing to their exact demographic, she’s “celebrating the fact that, as a scene, we’ve come a long way – with much further to go”.
She added: “Fuck the ones who doubted! Hugs to the ones who watched on and even sort of believed. Young girls, queer kids, and anybody of any color… We have shifted this scene together, messily, angrily, heartbroken, and determined. Tonight, for me at least, is about celebrating all the facets of what punk music actually represents. All the things it wasn’t allowed to be when we were young. Can’t wait to see everyone tonight.”
Have a look at Williams’ full letter below:
Following tonight’s (October 23) edition of When We Were Young, the festival will be held – with the same line-up – again next Saturday (October 29). It’ll then return to Las Vegas next October, with its 2023 bill headlined by Blink-182 and Green Day.
This year’s festival comes amid Paramore’s long-awaited return, with ‘This Is Why’ – their first song in five years – arriving at the end of last month. It’s the title track to their forthcoming sixth album, which is due out on February 10 via Atlantic. In a four-star review, NME’s Ali Shutler called the single “a defiant song struggling with paranoia that champions safe spaces”.