All in the family: Pete Wentz, Sr., Pete Wentz, Jr., and Dale Wentz, at LBC for the fundraiser Wentz Junior hosted on Tuesday. View the photo gallery.
Fall Out Boy bassist and Wilmette native Pete Wentz hosted a fundraiser for presidential hopeful Barack Obama Tuesday night at Lakeview Broadcasting Company. "I've been an Obama supporter since he announced he was campaigning," Wentz told me. "I was aware of him as a senator, but I wasn't as engaged as I probably should've been."
The crowd of about 125 friends of Pete and Obama supporters included tattooed urban hipsters and members of the local rock outfits Kill Hannah and Gym Class Heroes, plus Lovehammers' Marty Casey, the Rock Star: INXS runner-up and former Chicago magazine single. Also on the guest list: Wentz's mom and dad. "My parents support Obama… but they met while working for Biden years and years ago, when he was running in the seventies, maybe," Wentz told me. "They're like the lone Democratic stalwarts in Wilmette."
Wentz, who went to New Trier for two years before switching to private school ("I had trouble going to class," he said—adding, "but I left on my own will"), was a self-proclaimed high-school loser who hit the big time in 2005 with Fall Out Boy's first major-label album, From Under the Cork Tree.
Despite Wentz's success as a musician, occasional actor, and fashion designer—his clothing line, Clandestine Industries, is based in Chicago—he relies on girlfriend Ashlee Simpson to dress him for events. "My girlfriend usually styles me," he told the crowd following speeches by State Rep. Sara Feigelholtz and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. "But she's sick in L.A. I'm equally or more embarrassed by what I'm wearing [than you are]." Wentz, who was a little nervous addressing the fray—"I'm not used to public speaking unless it's to 14-year-olds," he said—wore black skinny jeans and a blazer over one of Clandestine's Obama T-shirts (which were given out to all attendees), and had one hat change, from a knit cap to a fedora.
"I want Obama to be president," Wentz told me. "I wanted to hold this event to reach out to younger people . . . by having a lower cost fundraiser [tickets were $75] in a more youth-oriented atmosphere. So it's not really stuffy. I mean, the DJ's already playing," he said as White Shadow cranked up the hip-hop.
Getting down to the real issue of the night, I had to ask what his plans were for Valentine's Day. "I try to make it something extra special," he said—but he wasn't spilling the details. "We've been dating a year and a half-ish, maybe. There was a definite six months where it was like, 'Are we; are we not?' because we were friends beforehand," he said of his relationship with Simpson. "It's been good so far, but I guess I'll have to tell you in ten years [how it's going]."
He might have a chance to do just that, since he's maintaining his local ties: LBC owner Stephen Westman told me about a new bar he, Wentz, and Empire Liquors' Matt Eisler are opening in River North in March. You know where to stay tuned for details.
Photograph: Courtesy of Sarah Preston