Hayley Williams Pens Emotional Letter Ahead of When We Were Young Fest Headlining Set

Las Vegas’ When We Were Young Festival has Hayley Williams reflecting on the music scene that she grew up in with Paramore.

Paramore is set to take the stage at Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Sunday night (Oct. 23) after Saturday, the opening day of the festival, saw the fest’s lineup canceled due to high winds. On the bill alongside Paramore this weekend are My Chemical Romance, Bring Me the Horizon, Bright Eyes, Avril Lavigne, Taking Back Sunday, Jimmy Eat World and more.

“To grow up in this scene was not a simple thing,” Williams wrote in a lengthy letter posted on Instagram Stories Sunday. “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 and 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,” she said.

“Nearly 20 years later, we find ourselves a pillar of the very scene that threatened to reject us. And me,” said Williams.

She wrote, “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 “whore,” know that, inside, I’m celebrating the fact that, as a scene, we’ve come a long way,” Williams noted. “With much further to go. F— 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.”

Following Paramore’s headlining slots at When We Were Young Festival, the group will continue on its fall tour. See their currently scheduled dates here.

Ashley Iasimone