Who would win in a When We Were Young Fest battle royale?
Some guesses on who would be the last band standing.
Hello and welcome to REPLY ALT, the only and therefore greatest email newsletter about music. Please buy my bestselling book, which features a bunch of bands that will be discussed today.
As you are no doubt aware, Live Nation’s When We Were Young Fest was announced this week. Given the chaotic nature of its format (65 bands crammed into a single day, centralized in the heart of America’s unwashed armpit), many have predicted that this will go disastrously—an Emo Fyre Festival, as some have joked. Hmm I doubt it. Fyre Festival was a once-in-a-generation fuck-up organized by a team of grifters. Maybe we’re looking at some tough scheduling conflicts or overpriced concessions, but I doubt anyone is gonna be stranded in shoddy tents with nothing but lettuce sandwiches for two days.
But OK, for argument’s sake, let’s say things go awry and this turns into a Hunger Games-style battle royale situation where 65 bands enter and only one leaves. If that unlikely situation were to occur, I must ask: Who would the victor be? What band on the lineup has the ruthless grit necessary to eliminate 64 rivals and be the last band standing? Who will leave the island in one piece??? (Yes I realize Vegas is not an island but let’s just go with it in this scenario for dramatic purposes.)
I have done some careful analysis here—estimating the muscle mass, threat levels, weaknesses, and wilderness survival ratings of each band—and I have drawn my own conclusions. You can feel free to disagree, but this is the outcome I’ve come up with.
Please note: REPLY ALT does not condone artist-on-artist violence of any kind. This is for entertainment purposes only, and is merely one dim-witted man’s hypothesis of what would happen in this fantasy situation where emo Lord of the Flies breaks loose and everyone has to fend for themselves.
FIRST ROUND ELIMINATIONS
These are the bands that don’t even make it through the first hour.
Bright Eyes - An early round upset elimination. Conor I love you but I’ve seen a video of you getting absolutely RINSED in an arm wrestling contest. You’re not cut out for this I’m sorry.
Alkaline Trio - Years of blink-182 luxuries have rendered Skiba soft and weak. He’s gonna get winded early. If he has to sprint for more than 30 yards they are done-zo.
The Starting Line - They ain’t making it to the finishing line that’s for sure.
Paylaye Royale - I appreciate the idea of a band dressing like emo-goth versions of Victorian era foppish dandies, really I do, but that won’t get them far here. Just too many accessories holding them down.
Nessa Barrett - Had to look this person up and she’s just some TikTok teen. She will get lost within the first 10 minutes while wandering around trying to find a wifi network.
Wolf Alice - No disrespect to Wolf Alice but Brits are too pure to survive in this American hellscape. Only the dregs will last here.
Bring Me the Horizon - Also too British to last.
We the Kings - Oh no! Taken out early by their archnemesis: sunlight.
Carseat Headrest - I’d hope these guys would have the good sense to recognize they do not belong at an emo festival and kindly do seppuku upfront.
Horrorpops - Too many enemies of rockabilly out there for them to last very long unfortunately. Might as well have a Sailor Jerry target tattooed on their back.
Lilhuddy - I looked this dude up and he looks like the heartthrob in a Disney channel movie. No one named Chase is winning this thing sorry Chase.
Armor for Sleep - Should’ve brought some armor for being awake!
I Prevail - Unfortunately not.
Black Veil Brides - These outfits wouldn’t allow them to survive a Vegas afternoon on a regular day. Walk the strip in this shit at 1 PM and tell me you could last all day in it.
Elimination montage: Boys Like Girls, TV Girl, Dance Gavin Dance, Mayday Parade, All American Rejects, The Garden, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Pierce the Veil
SECOND ROUND ELIMINATIONS
These bands endured the initial drop but not much longer after that.
La Dispute - I saw this band once and the singer moved around the stage like a hummingbird and the other 9 members just stood there scared shitless. They’re gonna drag him down in this and he’s gonna have to make the difficult choice to eat his own if he wants to survive.
Jxdn - You can only go so far without Travis Barker helping you.
The Wonder Years - They won’t last long but there will be a tribute covers album about them featuring like 18 Philly bands and it will be called something like All the Lessons The Wonder Years Taught Me That I Didn’t Know I Needed to Learn Until I Did but Eventually Didn’t in the End.
Avril Lavigne - I notice Sum 41 is not playing this festival. Really shows you the industry power Avril wields. Unfortunately that won’t help her in the emo wasteland wars.
Taking Back Sunday - I gotta be honest. Adam Lazzara gives off bigtime himbo energy and I just don’t think he’s built for combat. I’m happy to be proven wrong but they seem like a longshot.
Four Year Strong - If this was a craft-brewing competition, no question these guys would come out on top.
The Used - Maybe in their prime they could’ve been contenders to take it all, but at this point I think they’re lucky to even advance this far.
The Ready Set - As far as I can tell this is just one dude. I think he’ll have a bit of a lone wolf advantage, but you know what they say: if you want to go fast in the emo race, go alone. If you want to go far in the emo race, go together.
Sleeping with Sirens - Any band that grew up in Florida has homefield advantage in an apocalypse situation.
A Day to Remember - Same Florida logic.
Elimination montage: The Maine, Mom Jeans, Bayside, Royal and the Serpent, Acceptance, Story of the Year
THIRD ROUND ELIMINATIONS
Some tough warriors here but ultimately not tough enough.
State Champs - Being one of the younger acts with an energetic live show, they’ve got an advantage of stamina on some of their older peers. However, they lack the wisdom that comes from playing several demoralizing reunion tours.
Motionless in White - I doubt they can fight but their familiarity with makeup will help them camouflage into their surroundings for a few rounds.
Saosin - Anthony Green is like that raptor in Jurassic Park that Newman thought it was OK to pet because he was so cute but didn’t realize he could spit poisonous venom.
Thursday - Thursday makes it through a few rounds based on this assumption: Any band that has released music on Victory Records and lived the tell the tale has got some fight in them.
Hawthorne Heights - Same as Thursday. The Victory Logic.
Jimmy Eat World - Nice guys, sure, but let’s not forget their drummer is a big football fan. He’s got like 30 angles of attack in mind if the shit goes down. I wouldn’t cross em.
Glassjaw - Palumbo is a wild card honestly. I could go either way on this.
Knocked Loose/Neck Deep - You can’t convince me these aren’t just the same guys. They take each other out in a Face/Off situation.
Prentiss - This kid is 14. You might think that puts him at a disadvantage but nah look at him. If he can get his hands on even one 20oz Pepsi he’s making it through at least the first night of this thing with a few flawless victories. The underdog of the bunch.
The Story So Far - In an ironic twist, a woman dropkicks them into the pit as retribution for that whole 2016 incident.
Manchester Orchestra - I’m just as surprised as anyone that a band with the word Orchestra in their name would survive this long in hell world but these dudes look like they could scrap and also survive on cans of beans for weeks at a time if they had to.
Dashboard Confessional - Carrabba gets by for a few rounds due to no one having it in them to ax him. He’s like a beautiful deer.
AFI - Yo you seen Davey Havok lately? Dude is on some vegan weightlifting program which breeds the most effectively terrifying results. Any jabroni can get swole eating chicken and protein bars. Having to eat salad and legumes when you’re burning thousands of calories in the weightroom turns you into a furious monster. But alas, when it comes time to eat his prey for survival, Davey won’t do it and he’ll get eliminated.
Atreyu - Looks like some of these guys are hitting the weightroom pretty hard but… are they just glamor muscles? Any dude you see on American Ninja Warrior who is absolutely jacked gets clowned in the first 60 seconds by some ultramarathoner who is like 5’ 3”. Lean, functional muscles are key here.
Paramore - I know I know we’re all pulling for Hayley but we gotta admit that the other two dudes are dead weight that’s gonna pull her down in the long run.
3Oh!3 - A duo has a strong advantage in this whole situation. It allows you to be mobile and watch each other’s backs while you’re sleeping. (Japandroids would absolutely CRUSH this thing.) However, neither of these 3Oh!3 dudes has muscle tone or upper body strength and eventually that’s gonna catch up to them.
Anberlin - I think they’ll last pretty long in a battle royale for the same reason they’ve lasted pretty long as a band: Everyone just sort of forgetting they’re around.
Poppy - There is a sinister aura behind Poppy’s eyes and I would not want to cross her in the dark.
Elimination montage: Meet Me at the Altar, The Linda Lindas
FINAL ROUND ELIMINATIONS
The Final Five to be bumped.
Silverstein - Huh? How did Silverstein make it this far, right? I know, but here’s the thing: Silverstein has played TEN Warped Tours, more than any other band on the When We Were Young lineup. Any band that has spent a decade of their lives in Warped Tour parking lots in the middle of the country would be very well equipped to survive a Vegas apocalypse.
Senses Fail - Pretty sure Buddy is like a doomsday prepper with an apocalypse RV who studies jiu jitsu. I’d spot him a decent survival rating.
Ice Nine Kills - This band seems to be really into horror movies, but as we all know, the guy in the horror movie who knows the rules of horror movies always gets eliminated early but then comes back at the end to sacrifice themselves to save someone. I’m willing to grant these guys a noble elimination.
Kittie - A dark horse in this whole thing. You don’t survive for like 25 years in the bro metal ecosystem without learning how to fight dirty.
PVRIS - I don’t know anything about PVRIS’ music but I do know this: PVRIS can throw the fuck down.
My Chemical Romance - I have my money on My Chem to take this whole thing. Hear me out. It’s not that I believe them to be the most cunning or physically dominating of the lineup; it’s that they have a powerful weapon on their side: the MCRmy. I am convinced that even if this battle royale took place on some remote island that is not even registered on any maps, MCR’s extremely dedicated following would still find a way to track down their boys and throw themselves into harm’s way on their behalf. It’s hard to lose a battle when you have a human shield of millions of My Chem kids at your disposal.