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When We Were Young
The festival not the saying
I’m sure like most of you, when the We Were Young Fest posted their show date announcements, you zoomed in to see all the band names to see just who everyone was freaking out over. I was somehow lucky enough to catch My Chemical Romance’s only reunion show at the LA Shrine auditorium in December 2019, which was supposed to be in preparation for their stadium reunion tour, set for 2020. But ya know, the Pandemi had other plans….
I think that concert was the last time I actually felt young, before the pandemic aged me 20+ years in two years time.
I’ll admit to you now, I was already out of college when MCR became a thing. I was watching The Hills, and for some really dumb reason, wearing headbands and ballet flats and thinking I was like, stylish. I secretly loved Panic! At the Disco, and Fall Out Boy, but because Lauren Conrad didn’t outwardly like them — I didn’t ever express my love for them to anyone.
Not even on Myspace.
So when I saw MCR was headlining, I thought in my head of a phrase my gramma used to say when she’d see movie trailers, “I done seen it.”
I thought about buying tickets to the We Were Young Festival for about five minutes. Until I remembered a) how old I am and b) how I struggle to wear actual pants now, let alone attend a festival with like, dirt and 55 bands, and rabid millennials fighting to make it to all the sets for nostalgic purposes.
After zooming into the flyer — there it was. A guy I had dated in the last few years was on the bill with his old band. This was a guy who had made a huge career being in an emo band, and writing songs for a certain “Mother fucking princess” we all know well (who is also on the bill.) I thought to myself, “Well, now I really don’t want to go….”
I also really felt like throwing up.
Right before the pandemic, he’d moved somewhere in the middle of nowhere — claiming he “hated” Los Angeles, hated the music industry, and wanted to get away from it all. I, of course, took that as him wanting to get away from me. During lockdown, he had become serious with a girl who was in a country band out of Nashville. I remember IG stalking her and noticing she thought wearing one white boot and one brown boot to a red carpet was cute. I mean, she was actually photographed on the red carpet like that, like someone let her out there like that. I don’t know if I hated the idea of him being with her, or if the idea of mis-matched boots was just the stupidest thing I’d ever seen.
Probably a little of both.
I thought maybe by the time the pandemic had eased, he’d be back in LA and back on his bullshit. I also thought my dumb ass was over him. Instead, by the end of 2021, he was posting wedding pictures all over the place of him with his Nashville bride. Luckily, someone had enough sense to tell her to wear matching shoes on her wedding day, because I would NOT have held my silence in the comments section.
One night at my best friend's house, we were drinking wine and watching a movie — and she stumbled across one of his wedding photos on IG. “Oh No, I’m sorry Angie…. I didn’t know,” she said.
I shrugged it off and told her I had unfollowed him anyways. And unfollowing is basically like, erasing someone from your life, isn’t it?
2022 — and I’m back on MY bullshit, heading to meet a new guy for coffee. I’m on Ventura, imagining the sweet taste of Matcha and Oatmilk when I suddenly make eye contact with a very familiar face. He’s leaning over into a big black jeep, with big aviator sunglasses, and a teddy Patagonia jacket, when he turns back to me and nods with a smile.
I am not sure if I froze in time, if I maybe stopped walking — or what my physical reaction might have been, because I legit thought I was hallucinating. It was him. Out of all the places to be in Los Angeles on this random rainy Tuesday, this fool was right here on the sidewalk as some sort of obstacle course for me to get to my date. Like, what the actual fuck, Universe?!
Before I knew it, he had walked up to about six inches in front of me, and was giving me a hug.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” I said with my face smooshed up against his chest. I’m positive this probably came out more aggressively than I had planned in my head.
“Well, that’s one way to greet someone, how are ya?” He stood in the middle of the sidewalk, fidgeting and fluffing his hair. I hate how he fluffs his hair.
He proceeded to tell me he was in town for a songwriting session and meeting his friend for lunch before they headed to the studio. All I could think about was that this was some cruel trick the Universe was trying to play on me, thinly veiled as “closure” or some shit. Like, real funny.
We somehow got around to discussing the wedding. I awkwardly said, “Well, and you’re married now, so….” and he legit looked at his wedding band, nodded, and moved on to a different topic without skipping a beat. Nothing about how she was the right girl, or how he was so in love with her, nada — just like a nod that maybe it happened, or maybe it didn’t. He fluffed his hair again and I could feel the hair on my arms stand up. As the kids say, total cringe.
I’m not really one for awkward silences — so I panicked, and brought up the When We Were Young Festival. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dude more excited to tell me about reuniting and playing an emo festival after he had supposedly sworn off anything emo for the rest of all time. You know “emo” is this weirdly loaded word that not even MCR wants to be grouped as or associated with — yet, this will inevitably be the last generation that has a collective “nostalgic” memory of music that can be bottled and capitalized upon, and all those bands are playing like knowing we call them emo, and that that is like, the point. Like, we can be 40 and crying over Gerard Way, and it's like, what Live Nation wants for us. It is the very thing these bands are getting paid for.
I suppose if the bag is large enough, you can call anyone emo — right?
We had hour-long conversations about how he would take voice lessons to get rid of the “emo tone” he had accidentally learned to sing with. He called himself the “emo tabloid boyfriend” of the time, appearing on the cover of numerous US Weeklys. He even used to argue with me and say he couldn’t wear Vans anymore, because he couldn’t appear to be emo anymore, calling it “young boy shit.” And yet now, his band was playing both weekends of this thing, and he could not be happier.
Every time he’d call MCR “My Chem” during our conversation it was like nails on a chalkboard. For being someone who hated LA so much, he sounded SO LA when he would say, “It’s just gonna be cool to do like a one day thing with all our friends and My Chem.” GagEyerollBarf. To make matters worse, I had the actual audacity to say something to the effect of, “Oh well, it sounds really great, I was thinking about getting tickets just to see you guys play…” and inside my head my brain was like, “BICH NO YOU WERE NOT, STOP TALKING.” I do sort of hope there will be streaming available…
If he wears Vans, I will literally pee my pants.
When I finally made it down to my date, my hands were shaking — I assume it is what the kids mean when they say “shook.” Emo guy had told me to “text him later” which felt weird, like with the wife and marriage of it all…. And when I finally sent a text that said something like “It was really great to see you today, how weird to run into you after all these years!” He replied simply with “x”.
“X?” Like, FUCK YOU dude.
If “x” is supposed to be my “closure”, than I suppose it is your move, Universe. I think my closure is something more like VIP passes to When We Were Young Festival, and seats somewhere directly in his eye line, just to see what happens…