When We Were Young Fest kicked off its inaugural year on Saturday (4/8) at The Observatory in Orange County, CA. Day one at the indie, emo, and punk festival was headlined by Morrissey, for whom The Observatory went meat product free. According to The Orange County Register, Moz was overwhelmingly the main draw of the day:

The vast majority of fans who wore band gear arrived in shirts and jackets emblazoned with his name or that of the Smiths, the British group of the ’80s in which Morrissey made his name.

Even other bands paid tribute during their sets. The guitarist in the post-hardcore band Senses Fail arrived on stage with an image of Moz on his shirt. And Davey Havok, the singer for AFI, who played just before Morrissey’s headlining turn, expressed awe at their proximity to a hero.

“Some moments are life-changing,” Havok said just before his band’s strong performance wrapped. “Never in our 26 years (as a band) did we imagine we’d be sharing a stage with Morrissey.”

After all that, thankfully, Morrissey, first, showed up — he’s canceled gigs on short notice often in the past — and second, delivered a strong run through 19 songs in a set that ran 20 minutes longer than the hour for which it had been listed.

AFI, Joyce Manor, Balance and Composure, David Bazan, The Get Up Kids, Alkaline Trio, Beach Fossils, and Homeshake were among the other bands who played on Day 1. Pictures of some of them in the gallery above, and a couple of videos of the scene at the fest below.

When We Were Young continued on Sunday with Descendents, Taking Back Sunday, Choking Victim, Saves the Day, Sheer Mag, and more.

Morrissey goes on to play four re-rescheduled dates this week, starting tonight.

--

photos by Christina Chi Craig, Natalie Somekh, & Romari Bonner