This weekend, the first “When We Were Young” music festival opens in Las Vegas. The three-day event, colloquially known as “Emo Fest,” attracts more than 50 bands to the city, including early-2000s favorites like My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Avril Lavigne, and A Day to Remember. The concert for weekend one begins Saturday, October 23 at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. It extends into October 24 and picks up again October 29. With emo fans taking the city by storm, they’ll need to eat.
We know that Jimmy Eat World. But what else do Jimmy eat? Below is Eater Vegas’ guide for festival attendees, both near and far.
Morning Before Festival Opens
Before belting along to “Welcome to the Black Parade,” festivalgoers will need to fuel themselves with coffee. And there’s only one way for emo fans to take their coffee: black. (Okay, maybe with the addition of oat milk.) If staying downtown, stop into Vesta Coffee Roasters (1114 South Casino Center Boulevard) for a fresh cup. If on the Strip, Urth Caffe (3131 Las Vegas Boulevard) at Wynn Las Vegas has an expansive menu of coffee drinks. Alternatively, Avril Lavigne fans should stop into Fashion Show Mall to visit the Hello Kitty Cafe (3784 South Las Vegas Boulevard) for coffee with a side of a Kerropi doughnut.
Where to Eat Before and After the Festival
Many of the performers, including Paramore, A Day to Remember, and Dashboard Confessional, have been signed to the Fueled by Ramen record label. Follow their lead and indulge in exceptional ramen around the Las Vegas Valley. Head to Chinatown to visit Monta Japanese Noodle House (5030 Spring Mountain Road) for its tonkotsu ramen. Or visit Jinya Ramen Bar (4860 West Flamingo Road) and order the spicy umami miso ramen. Izakaya Go (3775 Spring Mountain Road) serves ramen until 2 in the morning.
Anyone who grew up an emo kid still loves Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Try grown-up versions at Bin 702 (707 E Fremont Street), at Downtown Container Park, where they make a grilled cheese using the hot chips. Zero Degrees (2235 Village Walk Drive) makes a cheesy fries appetizer piled high with Hot Cheetos.
It’s still hot enough in Vegas for ice cream, so why not make it black? Secret Creamery (3449 South Sammy Davis Junior Drive) makes a nutty, toasted black sesame flavor. Somi Somi (4284 Spring Mountain Road) has a black sesame soft serve in a taiyaki fish-shaped waffle.
If you’re seeking food in a punk rock setting after the festival, you can’t beat Evel Pie (508 East Fremont Street) for pizza by the slice. Consider Count Vamp’d Rock Bar and Grill (6750 W Sahara Avenue) for bar eats.
Late Night Drinks
After the show, you’ll need a bar with lighting as dark as your eyeliner. Hit up a local dive, like Frankie’s Tiki Bar (1712 West Charleston Boulevard) for fruity tiki drinks in a dark and smoke-filled room. Also consider a trip to Atomic Liquors (917 East Fremont Street,), one of the oldest bars in town. The reddish lighting will bring out all the highlights in your side-swept bangs while you sip on whiskey sours. On the Strip, visit the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ speakeasy Ghost Donkey (3708 Las Vegas Boulevard) for mezcal drinks in a fairy light-filled bar. There’s also the Halloween pop-up bar, Nightmare on Spring Mountain (3355 Spring Mountain Road), for those who trend a little more toward horror.
How to Dine Like an Emo Song
Let the songs of the festival’s headliners guide your dining choices.
In “Dine, Dine My Darling,” Alkaline Trio sings of “our last supper as us two lovers.” Take your lover out to one of Las Vegas’ most romantic restaurants. There’s Barry’s Downtown Prime (8 East Fremont Street) at Circa, which oozes vintage glam — request a table in the Garden Room. There’s also Lamaii (4480 Spring Mountain Road), a Thai restaurant with killer noodles in Chinatown with golden chandeliers. And don’t forget Eiffel Tower Restaurant (3655 South Las Vegas Boulevard), which gazes out over the Strip.
Avril Lavigne has a song called “Crush.” Paramore has one called “crushcrushcrush.” And MGM Grand has a restaurant called Crush (3799 South Las Vegas Boulevard). From Jenna and Michael Morton of the Morton restaurant family, Crush serves classics like filet mignon and wood-fired pizza.
In Bring Me the Horizon’s song, “Sugar Honey Ice & Tea,” “everybody’s full of sugar, honey, ice, and tea.” You, too, can be full of sugar, honey, ice, and tea by visiting one of Las Vegas’ boba tea cafes. Try Brew Tea Bar (7380 South Rainbow Boulevard) for black tea with honey boba. Tiger Sugar (3000 South Las Vegas Boulevard), at Resorts World Las Vegas, has a brown sugar boba tea. For a cocktail, the Chinese restaurant Red Plate (3708 South Las Vegas Boulevard) has a Golden Lotus cocktail with gin, lychee, apple rosewater, yuzu, and blooming jasmine flower tea.
Dance Gavin Dance has a couple songs about strawberries: “Death of a Strawberry” and “Strawberry’s Wake.” Xtra Sweet (3930 Spring Mountain Road) offers a precious strawberry mousse cake in the shape of the fruit. Freed’s Bakery (9815 South Eastern Avenue) makes a knockout strawberry shortcake.
Instead of Taking Back Sunday, why not try taking back sundaes? Black Tap (3355 Las Vegas Boulevard) at the Venetian Resort is tough to beat for piled-high milkshakes that often come with entire doughnuts and cake slices on top. Sloan’s (3325 Las Vegas Boulevard) at the Grand Canal Shoppes makes sundaes with 18 scoops, served in a kitchen sink. And the Cereal Killerz Cafe (1300 West Sunset Road) makes sundaes topped with cereals.
For a brunch that’s fully devoted to all things emo, The Front Yard at Ellis Island (4178 Koval Lane) is hosting the Front Yard Is for Lovers Emo Brunch on Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The emo brunch will include bottomless black mimosas and brunch items like UnderOats bananas foster overnight oats, a Dip Cab for Cutie French dip, and the Toast of You avocado toast. The soundtrack will feature emo and pop-punk music.