“...I thought I’d had my fill of Fall Out Boy for months to come, but it turns out that the universe had other plans.”
The very next day after the show, I made a last minute impulse decision to go to the LA Fall Out Boy Pop Up Shop that would be happening on Sunday. I made my choice around 9 pm on Saturday, while I was back home in San Diego. My parents and I (because hanging out with your parents is cool, kids) drove all the way back up to LA, and my mom and I were dropped off at 1050 S Olive Street. Bear in mind, this is pop up shop. These things are cool and small and pretty discreet. We arrived there at midnight, and we were face to face with a small warehouse covered by a metal roll-down door. At first we weren’t sure we were in the right place, but a tiny peephole through the door revealed a glimpse of Fall Out Boy MANIA posters and the reassurance we needed to sit on a freezing LA street corner alone.
The first hour or so was pretty uneventful, until a kind-looking lady seemingly emerged from behind a tree. We talked for a bit and realized we were both there for the same reason. Her name was Arlene, and both her and her son Chris became our companions for this adventure. We had really overshot the arrival time, because most people didn’t start showing up in line until around 7 am… however, I did end up being first in line and making some really cool new friends. We met people from all over: LA, San Diego, and even Utah! Around 4 am, Kacey, Kiersten, and Molly rolled in, and casually announced they drove for 6 hours from Cedar City, Utah. Together, we all had some good laughs and shared the pain of insomnia on a cold Los Angeles sidewalk.
The pop up shop didn’t open until 10 am, and the deal was that the first 75 people in line who purchased over $50 in merch would receive a pass for guaranteed entry into a meet and greet with Pete Wentz at 2 pm. Sunday was the last day of the meet and greet, and there wasn’t a huge crowd. By 9:30, the line had stretched to cover a majority of the block, but there were still less than 75 fans. Once again, the worst part is the wait. My mom and I sat on that sidewalk for about 14 hours total waiting for Pete. We were surrounded by cool people, but that didn’t mean we weren’t tired and cold for a majority of the time. To spare you the boredom of a play-by-play, I’ll just mention that most of that waiting time was spent referencing funny vines, talking about our favorite Fall Out Boy albums, and walking to and from the closest Starbucks for coffee and bathroom breaks while the rest of the squad held our spot in line. There was a really nice sense of camaraderie between everyone there. Around 7 am, I offered to go on a Starbucks run for anyone in line who wanted, and at one point in the morning a girl came up with an entire box of bagels and cream cheese, going down the line to offer us breakfast. Once the pop up staff arrived to open up the shop, they were all super nice and helpful too! We befriended the main security guard and the event coordinator (I’m not 100% sure of her name but I believe it was Karina... If you’re reading this Karina(?) you’re amazing and we all love you!) who had plenty of jokes to crack and tips on the actual meet and greet.
As for the actual shopping experience, it was great. Ten people at a time were allowed into the shop at once to leisurely pick out whatever they wanted to purchase. As one person left, a new one came in, so there was never more than ten people inside at a time, and there was absolutely no crowding or shoving to get an item. Once the shop opened, I went in and out of there at record speed. I knew exactly what I wanted, so once I had my hands on the limited edition LA MANIA tank top and a llama keychain, I checked out with a total of $55 and my meet and greet card in hand. After that came a short food break and-you guessed it! More waiting. We can fast forward through that.
At around 1:30 pm (ahead of schedule!), Karina told us Pete was on his way, and she gave us some tips. The basics: We got to have one item signed, and one picture with Pete. By “one picture”, she really meant one pose. Karina would be the one taking our phones to photograph us, and she promised to click the shutter button as many times as possible to make sure we got plenty of pictures. She also told us that we weren’t technically allowed to ask Pete to write out personalized messages or song lyrics- but if we asked him nicely and stealthily enough, out of earshot of his security guard, he would be more than happy to.
Slightly before 2 pm, a black town car pulls up. The dazzling hood ornament and chauffeur gave away exactly who was behind those tinted windows. We all held our breath as Pete Wentz stepped out of the car, smiley as ever, wearing a black MANIA hoodie with a long t-shirt peeking out, black jeans, and bright yellow-green Yeezys. Of course. He slowly walked into the shop, taking the time to say hi to us and wave. The guy looked genuinely happy to be there, and again, my heart melted a little. When the time came, we were let in five at a time. I was second in line and barely had time to think as my meet and greet card was punched, by autographed item and purple sharpie were at the ready, and I handed my phone off to Karina. Alone Together was playing in the background. Then, standing in front of me, at 5’6” yet looking taller than I thought he’d be was emo Jesus himself, Pete Wentz.
He was overwhelmingly sweet, keeping me calm through my nervous jitters. We said hi, thanked each other for coming out, and I took out the item I had chosen to get autographed. Of course it was the sign from Friday night’s show, the one that had brought us together in the crowd of thousands. As I unfolded it, I said “I’m not sure if you remember me from Friday but-”, and his eyes light up as he cuts me off halfway through my sentence, quickly saying “Yeah! I do.”. The look of joy on my face as he smiled at my poster was indescribable, and I want to thank Karina with all my heart for capturing that candid moment on camera. There was a brief moment of silence after that, as he smiled and re-read the poster. My brain decided the best thing to say was a small “...Holy shit”. Pete laughed a little, and went on to ask “600 dollars? Damn.”. I laughed nervously and asked if he could sign it with my purple sharpie, which he did. Next, I started talking to him about a foundation I work with, Chelsea’s Light. Since our icon is a sunflower, I gave him a small gift which consisted of a packet of sunflower seeds to plant, along with the foundation’s mission statement and information, and a little note to let him know how much I appreciate him and believe he embodies the spirit of my foundation. He took it from me with care, said thank you, and gently placed it on a side table he had reserved for signing autographs and placing gifts. When all that was done, it was photo op time. He held up the famous $600 sign with his left hand and held mine with the other. When the Instagrammable moment was captured, he handed me my sign back and we started to say our goodbyes. We thanked each other again, and I told him how I loved him, his band, and their music. We hugged before I left and it was quite possibly the warmest and softest experience of my whole life.
I collected my stuff and thanked Karina before I headed out. I think the security guards giggled at me a little, since I walked out whispering to myself, “I just met Pete Wentz…. what the fuck.”. I’d just accomplished so many goals in such a small frame of time, and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. To be honest, I laughed at me too.
The whole experience was no more than 2 or 3 minutes long, but it didn’t feel rushed. All the staff was incredibly nice and helpful. It really felt like they wanted everyone to have a good time. There was no rudeness, pushing, or shoving at any time during my pop up shop experience, and my new friends and I met outside to talk about how great Pete was and comparing our fan photos. All in all, it was an awesome experience, and I don’t have any complaints. If you have a day to spare and you want to make great new friends while waiting in line for one of your favorite artists, I would definitely recommend a Fall Out Boy pop up shop!