Pete Wentz is the 36 year old bassist and backing vocalist for the American band Fall Out Boy , currently in the middle of a UK tour. By all media accounts a decent guy with two children with interesting names.Bronx Mowgli Wentz, Saint Lazslo Wentz. On sunday Oct 1th Fall Out boy play SSE Wembley venue in the evening and last week on some twitter account it was advertised, though quietly that Pete Went would be holding a “meet and greet” with a limited number of fans sunday lunchtime. There was little said on Twitter about this probably because on each of friday, saturday and sunday, the wristbands for the “meet and greet” were only available each day to the first 40 people who each bough at least £25 of “merch” from a pop up shop in Camden town called ” Rock and Roll Rescue”. Hence on each of the last three days there have been queues with some people queueing all night for the prize of being in the first 40 people in the queue. The shop is an unassuming shop not far from Camden Underground station that is run as a charity shop however for the 3 days they have packed their merchandise away to turn it essentially into a shrine to Fall Out Boy filled with various T-shirts, hoodies and other “merch”.
Driving up sunday morning and arriving at 7 am on a cold and slightly foggy morning the sight of precisely 33 people in the queue was a welcome sight to the two 15 year olds hoping to get their wristbands. The girls at the front of the queue had been there since 2 am and most likely were students from near by University College. Others too had camped out on cold UK nights previously . A few funny stories emerge of guys finding that the shops facility to take credit cards had broken and dashing off like Usain bolt to the nearest cashpoint in order to get the needed 25£ minimum for the wristband. At 7.30 am on friday there were maybe only 10 souls in the queue, on saturday by 7 am there were 27 and by 7 am sunday there were 33. It is also worth observing that the first underground train into Camden on a sunday does not arrive until 7.30 am and one imagines a fair few disappointed fans on that train well outside of the magic number of 40 . An excellent idea that was attributed to the girls at the front of the queue was to mark hands with the number one was in the queue. This prevented queue jumping, and indeed two people thought this was an acceptable thing to attempt. They failed. It also meant that those outside the top 40 were not waiting uncessarily for 3 hours or more.
Why do rational and intelligent teenagers do this? Clearly a focus on the band and the music, but there is an ever increasing market for the merchandise (“merch”) that all bands purvey. Is this a pure commercial thing to meet the fans only if they bought merchandise or is it an attempt to give something back to those genuine fans who follow the band ( as maybe proven by their purchases)? I favour the later. That Pete Wentz will take the time to meet individually 120 predominantly female teenagers and sign an item for them, and no doubt pose for a photograph, cannot be cost-effective if that is the pure motivation. Again if only 40 lucky souls get their wristbands each day it cannot be an attempt to drive custom to this temporary pop up shop.
This “meet and greet” here is for me mainly altruistic and other bands like All Time Low have done a similar thing at a small record shop in Kingston , surrey recently. There is also another kind of more commercial activity where for a far higher price one gets ” temporary exclusive access” to a band or their members, before a concert. These are often labelled VIP tickets or similar, or sometimes access to soundchecks. For example 5SOS did this recently.
However the best “meet and greet ” I am aware of is by the band Hey Violet. Where the day after their concerts they do free acoustic sets, and OK, they play a single song, but they then allow everyone to meet them and have their photograph taken all free. I got the opportunity to take some photographs a while ago of their London acoustic set at SSE Wembley