Live Nation, the entertainment giant that organized the tragic Astroworld Festival, which left 10 dead and over three hundred injured in 2021, has announced the upcoming When We Were Young festival. It was originally planned to be held at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Oct. 22, but increased demand resulted in the addition of two more dates. As the title suggests, it will feature many artists from the once-dominant alternative-genre, including Paramore, My Chemical Romance and Avril Lavigne. The star-studded roster of sixty-five bands is impressive to say the least, but the logistics, pricing and safety of the festival have been rightfully called into question by many. Much like the assortment of acts that will be playing, the anticipated festival seems like a mixed bag.
The bands will be divided into three stages and perform for roughly thirty minutes. Half-an-hour sets may feel criminally short, but the stages are rotating which should ensure minimal delays in transitioning from one performance to the next. Additionally, the acts headlining the festival will undoubtedly be given more time than less prevalent ones. However, the overcrowded roster of bands may still leave their appearances feeling rushed.
The relatively short performance times windows are one example of how When We Were Young’s massive scale may work to its detriment. The festival is expected to last 12 hours each day, which may be overwhelming for concert-goers due to fatigue and possible scheduling conflicts between their favorite artists. Given these logistical concerns, the pricing and ticket refund policy of the festival has faced increased scrutiny. Live Nation has stipulated that all ticket sales are final, unless the festival is canceled. This is also consistent with their usual policy for all festivals they organize, but fans are worried due to the perception that When We Were Young could be a disappointing experience.
General Admission (GA) tickets cost $244.99 each while GA+ tickets cost $419.99 each. According to their website, the only added bonuses of the extra $170 are “air-conditioned bathrooms” and a “dedicated entry lane at [the] main entrance.” It is shameful that bathrooms with fresh air circulation are barred behind such a large paywall.
Live Nation organizes over a hundred festivals each year, including Travis Scott’s 2021 Astroworld Festival. Although Scott should bear the brunt of the responsibility for the event — given that he has often incited reckless behavior from his fans in the past — Live Nation should still be paying special attention to the safety of their customers.
To the credit of the When We Were Young festival, it is highly unlikely that any of its artists will promote the overcrowding that led to the fatal crowd surging at the Astroworld Festival like Scott did. The three separate stages should also help to prevent such dangerous compression as well. Despite these improvements from the devastating and traumatic Astroworld Festival, Live Nation has continued to fail to properly provide for its customers. Their predatory pricing methods force fans to bolster their profits in exchange for a safer festival experience.
Air-conditioned bathrooms help to alleviate exhaustion, which is crucial in a hectic concert environment. According to the WHO, they “reduce the risk of the [corona]virus spreading indoors.” In all likelihood, the highly contagious and deadly disease will still be prevalent come October. So Live Nation should give all attendees access to such bathrooms regardless of how much they pay — as contracting the coronavirus can result in lifelong complications or death for a concert goer or someone they love.
Ultimately the appeal of the festival’s lineup is marred by the safety concerns and harmful pricing practices that suggest a lack of consideration for fans. While I don’t think that the When We Were Young festival is a complete scam — like the infamous Fyre Festival that many have drawn comparisons to — I do believe that the festival’s organizers are exploiting fans. The highly anticipated festival may manage to partly recapture the glory of the emo genre’s height, but it also proves that the ones who “were once young” have matured enough to become a target demographic to profit off of.
Daniel Waters is an Opinion Intern for the 2022 winter quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.