10 things to look out for at this weekend's When We Were Young festival

Hayley Williams + Gerard Way + Avril Lavigne
(Image credit: Hayley - Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Coachella / Gerard - Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images / Avril - Greg Doherty/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

Emo/pop-punk mega-fest When We Were Young kicks off this weekend. Originally slated as a one-day festival, to take place on October 22, an almost-instant sell-out meant extra dates were added for October 23 and October 29. So, while WWWY takes place over Saturday and Sunday at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, it’s two blasts through the same one-day event (with another go next week) rather than the same festival stretched over two days. All clear? Good, good.

The festival name knowingly suggests a healthy dose of nostalgia and there’s certainly plenty to love here if you grew up on pop-punk, emo, screamo and all the associated subgenres from the earlier part of this century. But there are also plenty of brilliant up-and-coming acts to catch across the event’s five stages too.

Here are 10 things to watch out for if you’re heading for Las Vegas…

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A fire-up My Chemical Romance sealing their triumphant comeback

The return of My Chemical Romance in 2019 was one of the most eagerly awaited comebacks in modern rock history. The pandemic might have derailed their subsequent tour but Gerard Way's band picked up where they left off this year with rapturously-received shows across the UK, Europe and North America. And, if their appearance at last month’s Riot Fest is anything to go by, the hysteria is only continuing to ramp up.

Expect drama, glamour, anthems, eccentricity and hordes of people in Elder Emo T-shirts gloriously failing to keep their shit together.

See them: Black Stage, 22.40

The dawning of the 'This is Paramore's world, we just live in it' era

If any stage was perfectly set for the return of Paramore, it’s surely this one.

When the co-headliners were announced to play WWWY at the start of this year it looked set to be their first live performance since 2018. As things stand they have already played a handful of shows this month but this is still a huge platform for their return.

As an aside, Hayley Williams has heaped praise on Wolf Alice and shouted out to vocalist Ellie Rowsell, “Ellie, I wanna sing with you, so bad.” Wolf Alice tweeted back, “I would sing with you any day queen” so with both bands on the same bill could a special guest appearance be on the cards?

See them: Pink Stage, 21.40

The long-overdue coronation of pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne

Now don’t go and make things so complicated. We know you want to, so just get yourself down to watch Avril Lavigne’s Black Stage slot. This year’s Love Sux album was a surprisingly great and boisterous return to Avril’s pop-punk roots but it will still be those teenage years emo-pop classics that send the crowd into hysterics. Can we make it any more obvious?

See her: Black Stage, 19.35

Bring Me The Horizon stealing the show?

Over the past five years, Bring Me The Horizon have established themselves as festival and arena headliners in the UK. They’re not exactly an unknown quantity in the US but anyone who lost track of them after their Warped Tour days will be surprised at what a towering, dramatic and anthemic live act they’ve become. Expect a big presence, even bigger songs and - playing beneath MCR on the site's Black Stage - a potentially show-stealing performance from Oli Sykes' band.

See them: Black Stage, 20.55

The fiercest pits of the weekend for Knocked Loose

If you’re looking for a bit of early evening aggression in Vegas, Knocked Loose should do the trick. There are a few heavy bands on the bill, but few as furiously full-on as the Kentuckian hardcore crew. They’re sure to give the circle pit a swirl so be prepared for high octane hardcore and some of the gnarliest metalcore breakdowns of the entire festival.

See them: Stripe Stage, 17.30

Alkaline Trio coming out of the shadows

Hey, isn’t that the guy from Blink-182? Nope, not any more. Matt Skiba’s profile might have experienced a major boost over the past few years as he kept Tom DeLonge's seat warm, but the brilliant Alkaline Trio was always his baby and he’ll now get to devote more time to it. That’s good news not only for WWWY punters but also for anyone who likes their punk slick, dark and dangerous.

See them: Checker Stage, 21.05

Spooktacular thrills and chills from HorrorPops 

Danish groove machine HorrorPops bring something a little different with their glam-horror psychobilly twang. They’re the latest band playing all weekend so expect post-midnight thrills and get ready to walk like a zombie with a bunch of psychobitches outta hell. They’re also another band recently returned from a lengthy hiatus, with frontwoman Patricia Day currently “kicking cancer’s ass”, so go and show them some love.

See them: Checker Stage, 23.25

The Linda Lindas showcasing the shape of punk to come

With ages ranging from 19 to just 12, the Linda Lindas are almost certainly the youngest act playing When We Were Young. Don’t let their tender collective age fool you though; the LA group play with a fire and passion to put most other bands of any generation to shame. They’ll be opening up the Neon Tent before noon so get in early and get down the front. Racist, Sexist Boy should cause a mini-riot and should give you a clue to their take-no-prisoners approach.

See them: Pink Stage, 11.50

Weekend worship with Meet Me @ The Altar

Another bunch of newbies worth getting in early for are rising pop-punk stars Meet Me @ The Altar. They’ve been generating a lot of excitement for a band that have yet to release their debut album proper (the likes of Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years have come out in their support) and their frenetic appearance at Download this year shows they know how to work the festival crowds. Meet ‘em @ the Neon Tent.

See them: Neon Tent, 12.45

Kittie bringing the festival to a purr-fect end

Kittie have the double-edged sword of being stage headliners whose stage time happens to coincide with a little band you might have heard of called My Chemical Romance.

If you’re one of the (probably vanishingly few) people at the fest who don’t want to see MCR though, you could do a lot worse than the Lander sisters' criminally underrated. Often dismissed as nu-metal also-rans – a mantle that never suited them anyway - they absolutely slay live. This can also be seen as another comeback from the Canadian quartet whose future has been in doubt since the death of bassist Trish Doan in 2017, aged just 31.

See them: Stripe Stage, 22.45

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer