It’s no surprise that Observatory constantly assembles some of the best lineups around. The Southern Californian venue has been experimenting with huge headliners not commonly known to play Orange County, and they really got it right with When We Were Young Fest. From Reggae on a cruise ship to the annual Beach Goth, Observatory had a lot to pull from, taking the best bands and aspects of a festival, and really giving us a proper event.
One of the best parts of When We Were Young fest was the fact there are few festivals in the world that offer such an eclectic mix of local bands, international favorites, guilty pleasures, and worldwide icons for such a good price. We’re pretty convinced the fest was booked so well that it’s created a new type of fan. As far as the lineup went, bands from Beach Goth, Coachella, Riot Fest, Burgerama, even Vans Warped Tour, were excellently pulled for the perfect lineup.
Cage The Elephant by Johann Ramos
It’s difficult to book a fest based on nostalgia without getting too genre heavy or narrow minded, but Observatory not only capitalized on iconic bands from our youth, but introduced an entirely new generation to some of their soon to be favorites. Diehards, veterans, fresh-faced festival goers, and cynics alike all bonded over bands like Morrissey, AFI, Cage The Elephant, Fidlar, Beach Fossils, Tijuana Panthers, Sadgirl and more.
AFI by Johann Ramos
Dealing with huge bands that sell out arenas, festivals, or one off reunion shows is no easy feat, but again, Observatory constantly nails it. Logistically, booking someone like, say, Morrissey, presents lots of problems for a large crowd. When the famous vegan banned meat sales at Riot Fest, people understandably rioted, yelled obscenities, left early, and derided the festival for booking such a divisive headliner. Conversely, most people that attended When We Were Young fest went specifically to see Morrissey. The crowd really couldn’t have been more receptive.
Beach Fossils by Johann Ramos
Local/fest favorites like Beach Fossils and Sadgirl really helped enliven an already stellar crowd. Seeing bands we grew up with rocking out on the same stages as music legends really blew our minds. We watched many of these bands struggle and grow over time, and seeing them play When We Were Young fest showed us that our favorite musicians were just getting started.
Morrissey by Johnny Ramos
And then there was Morrissey. Morrissey is known for being very particular with his performances, and wow did his set go off without a hitch. Shows have been cancelled due to throat problems, an ungracious audience, or random logistical issues we won’t even try to comprehend. When We Were Young fest seemed to be the perfect culmination of a loving audience, a perfectly planned festival, and an accommodating venue that enabled Morrissey to give one of his best performances in recent years. We really couldn’t ask for more.
We’ll have a lot more on When We Were Young fest because there were so many good bands and sets, we couldn’t possibly fit it into just one article. Stay tuned for more coverage.
Photos by Johann Ramos of Dream Films Los Angeles