When We Were Young Fest canceled its first day because Las Vegas was under High Wind Warning. Fans were not happy, but the unexpected free time seems to have given Hayley Williams time to reminisce before Paramore took the festival’s Pink stage to headline Sunday (October 23).
The iconic Paramore lead vocalist posted a handwritten letter to her Instagram Story, reflecting on the challenges she and the band have overcome to arrive in a place where they could authentically co-headline When We Were Young. Williams explained how “this scene” was “not a simple thing” to grow up in, but Paramore “fell in love with this subset of post-punk and hardcore likely because nothing else moved us,” adding, “We didn’t fit in other places.”
Williams detailed how long it took to feel a sense of belonging. “It’s taken a lot of unlearning,” she wrote. She later noted, “Tonight, while we’re running through the lengths of our discography and I’m refraining from singing the word, ‘wh*re,’ know that, inside, I’m celebrating the fact that, as a scene, we’re come a long way.”
Paramore began performing “Misery Business” for the first time since September 2018 during their current North American fall tour ahead of their February 2023 comeback album, This Is Why. The “Misery Business” lyrics — “Once a wh*re, you’re nothing more,” especially — have been a sore subject for Williams, dating back to a 2015 Tumblr post that explored her feminism.
When We Were Young will conclude next Saturday (October 29), and the festival has already unveiled its 2023 lineup.
Read Williams’s full letter below.
“To grow up in this scene was not a simple thing. To be celebrating it (and to be celebrated by it) is not a simple thing. Nothing about this life — for you, me, or anyone — is simple. We fell in love with this subset of post-punk & hardcore likely because nothing else moved us. We didn’t fit in other places. To be a young girl in love with this scene was to have the hope that I might find my own way to belong. It took years to find that belonging. It’s taken a lot of unlearning. A lot of untangling knots I didn’t even know were there. What I did know was that for every, ‘TAKE OFF YOUR TOP!,’ or snarky Punkzine review .. for every dramatic headline pinned on my name, or any season of self-doubt… No one was going to define Paramore but Paramore.
“Nearly 20 years later, we find ourselves a pillar of the very scene that threatened to reject us. And me. I do my best to stay humble. What good is a bloated ego? But beyond the intense devotion of Paramore fans around the world, the reason we made it this far is us. What I really mean to say is — we never banked on trends. Or nostalgia. Or even me, alone. We only did exactly what we knew was real for us. (And sure, I leaned into spite as needed.) Tonight, while we’re running through the lengths of our discography and I’m refraining from singing the word, ‘wh*re,’ know that, inside, I’m celebrating the fact that, as a scene, we’ve come a long way. With much further to go. F*ck the ones who doubted! Hugs to the ones who watched on and even sort of believed. Young girls, queer kids, and anybody of any color … we have shifted this scene together. Messily, angrily, heartbroken, and determined.
“Tonight, for me at least, is about celebrating all the facets of what punk music actually represents. All the things it wasn’t allowed to be when we were young. Can’t wait to see everyone tonight.”
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.