Her When We Were Young Festival Nightmare: Dick Pics, Mockery, and Harassment
A gaming director who reached out to customer service reps over issues with her When We Were Young tickets claims she was harassed, called a bitch, and sent explicit photos.
What began as an aughts emo kids’ fever dream of a festival is shaping up to be a shambolic mess that TikTokers have already dubbed Fyre Fest 2.0. And for one woman, the When We Were Young Festival in Las Vegas has already turned into a nightmare.
Cristina Amaya, a gaming director, was ready to slap down $2,600 for a day of pop-punk nostalgia for herself and four friends. She ended up canceling their entire trip after allegedly being called a “bitch” and a “cunt,” and being mocked by a customer service agent who claimed to be from the festival’s third-party ticketing agency, Front Gate Tickets, which is owned by the fest’s presenter Live Nation.
And when she finally spoke with the agent’s boss, the supervisor sent her a pornographic photo of multiple penises and stayed on the phone to ensure that the would-be concertgoer had received the explicit photo.
“The whole thing just feels so crazy to me,” Amaya tells The Daily Beast. She ended up having to block the customer service number after the agent tried calling her cellphone back, feeling that she was being harassed. “They said I deserved dick pics because I had a whiny Karen voice.”
Amaya isn’t the only one harboring doubts about the professionalism of the festival organizers. Skepticism arose when the news broke that some of the biggest names of Myspace’s 2000s heyday were gathering for one day and one day only—Oct. 22—at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. My Chemical Romance and Paramore would serve as headlining acts, with cult-favorite groups such as AFI, The Used, Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Bright Eyes, Jimmy Eat World, and The All-American Rejects performing throughout the day.
It all seemed to be just dandy—that is, until the fine print was examined. For starters, it seemed unfeasible for concertgoers to catch even a fraction of the nearly 65 bands that were slated to play over a 13-hour period.
Plus, the prices seemed exorbitant for a one-day event, starting at $225 for general admission and jumping to $400 for GA+, with the only additional perks being a dedicated entry line and access to air-conditioned bathrooms. (It’s especially steep when compared to Coachella, a three-day fest with A-list performers across a variety of genres that starts at $449.)
Others took issue with how the fest was being put on by Live Nation, the same entertainment company that helped organize Travis Scott’s fatal Astroworld festival in November—and is currently facing hundreds of millions of dollars in negligence lawsuits over it. It didn’t help that organizers were encouraging potential festivalgoers to fork over $20 as a downpayment to reserve a ticket, raising eyebrows over why the fest had a need for immediate cash.
Still, many were eager to attend—including Los Angeles-based Amaya and her friends.
But due to the frenzy over the fest, tickets for the initial Oct. 22 date quickly sold out, so Amaya placed herself on the waitlist for five GA+ tickets. After overwhelming demand, organizers said they’d be adding a second day on Oct. 23. Then on Monday, they announced a third day on Oct. 29.
Amaya says she received an email on Monday alerting her that her waitlist tickets had been approved for the new show day. Since some of her friends had already purchased tickets for the initial weekend, however, Amaya wanted to confirm that she could attend one of the earlier shows.
Her attempts to contact the When We Were Young festival proved useless, as Amaya says she’d sent an email to the festival’s general information email address about her ticketing issue, but never got a response back.
With only 24 hours to refund or cancel the order, Amaya figured it was best to reach out directly to Front Gate Tickets, the Live Nation-owned company that the When We Were Young festival site had linked to as the point of contact for any ticketing issues.
Amaya says that she tried to contact Front Gate Tickets, an Austin-based firm whose other clients include Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, and Rolling Loud, through its various online links but ended up being bounced around to different pages on its website due to its poor site navigation.
One message she sent on the website allegedly returned an automated response that stated the email address was no longer active, redirecting her to fill out another form.
Frustrated, she tweeted about her ticketing issue, tagging Front Gate Tickets’ Twitter account. She also sent another email about her complaint to a Front Gate Tickets support email, which had previously sent her an email confirmation about her waitlist tickets. The email is also listed on When We Were Young’s website as a contact point.
Minutes later, Amaya says she received a call from a 1-888 number from a male who claimed to be with Front Gate Tickets’ customer support team. (The Daily Beast reviewed a screenshot of Amaya’s phone log that shows she received four calls from a number that links back to Front Gate Tickets’ listed phone number and is also a number listed on the When We Were Young website.)
The conversation started out friendly enough, Amaya says, but things took a turn when the representative tried to convince her not to cancel her ticket order, pushing her to accept the five tickets for the newly added day.
“He was like, ‘Hey, I see that you want a refund? Well, congratulations, your tickets have already been accepted for the 29th,’” she recalls. “At first it seemed like real customer support, he was trying to work through it with me.”
Amaya says she reiterated that she just wanted to cancel the order because she couldn’t attend that weekend, which is when things went south.
“I was like, ‘I don’t want to go on the 29th, can we just cancel,’” she recounts. “I guess because I interrupted him, the dude was like, ‘Ah, you fucking bitch.’ He went from zero to 100, 180-degrees the minute I wasn’t clearly gonna take his ‘It’s great [spiel].’ He just started berating me for a while.”
Amaya claims the man repeatedly called her a “Karen,” a “bitch,” a “cunt,” referenced her job as a gaming director, and even mocked how she didn’t have 8,000 followers on Twitter.
Fed up, Amaya says that she was then transferred to his supervisor because her tickets still hadn’t been canceled. But when she was put on the phone with the woman, the harassment allegedly continued, with the supervisor sending Amaya an email containing an explicit photo of several male penises.
The woman even requested for Amaya to stay on the phone while she sent the email that was supposed to confirm her ticket cancellation. The Daily Beast obtained an audio recording of the conversation, where the woman can be heard telling Amaya that the email might go to her spam.
“Make sure to check your spam folder,” the woman says. “Let me check,” Amaya responds. “OK, I’ve seen it. Yeah, I’ve seen what it is. Thank you for that, bye.”
“Oh, you got it, OK,” the supervisor is heard saying, rather smugly. “Make sure you open, can you make sure it opens? Enjoy, bye!”
Minutes later, Amaya says the male customer rep called her cellphone. “We thought you’d enjoy the dicks at least,” he is heard saying.
“That’s a little strange,” a clearly rattled Amaya responds. “I’m just trying to cancel my tickets to the When We Were Young festival, I don’t know why you are harassing me now.”
“We aren’t harassing you. I just want to make sure that everything was okay. You got the dicks?” the man asks before Amaya hangs up.
When We Were Young and Live Nation did not return The Daily Beast’s repeated requests for comment. Front Gate Tickets, meanwhile, alleges: “After looking into this and speaking with the fan we determined she was a victim of fraud. Based on data it seems her email may have been hacked. Our customer service team was able to resolve her initial request. We feel for what she went through and encourage all consumers to be sure they are dealing with an official source when it comes to any e-commerce website and personal information online.”
But this explanation fails to account for a number of things that happened, including her receiving emails from email addresses linked to Front Gate Tickets.
Amaya says she was disturbed by the encounter, feeling particularly uneasy about her personal details—such as her PayPal account—being in the hands of people who were clearly not using the sensitive information professionally.
“I am really shaken,” she shares. “I thought I was following the process to get myself off the waitlist. I wasn’t expecting to be harassed in phone calls, sent dick pics, and ripped apart for wanting to cancel.”
And even if the Front Gate Tickets customer service reps were somehow actually just trolls who managed to infiltrate the company’s systems, Amaya says that’s even more concerning of a security risk if they have access to people’s banking details and other personal information.
After The Daily Beast reached out to Live Nation and Front Gate Tickets for comment, Amaya says someone from Live Nation finally got back to her. While they tried to pass it off as an outside “prankster” and apologized, Amaya says she was still slightly taken aback when the Live Nation rep offered to put her back on the waitlist, but is ultimately glad the matter is resolved.
“I’m positive I’m not a special case and I would hate for people to not have the proper outlets to address this,” she adds. “When something happens to your fans and customers, isn’t it your responsibility to make sure you’re protecting them? And if this is your staff, they need a long vacation or something.”