How contact solution got me VIP passes to Warped Tour

I was a late bloomer on The Warped Tour train.

My mom would never let me go alone, plus I lived pretty far from any venues where Warped Tour was actually happening.

Because of all the Warped Tours that were taken from me for these reasons (I missed Katy Perry back when she was good!), I held on a little longer than others. But one year, it all paid off and I got free VIP passes thanks to a merch guy with bad vision.

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Back in the winter of that year, before thoughts of Warped Tour danced in my head, I had gone to a Hoodie Allen concert in Philly – my emo phase had kind of transitioned into a white rapper phase at the time, I don’t want to talk about it.

While waiting in line to get into the venue where Hoodie was doing a meet and greet, I said what’s up to the merch guy (hint: always talk to the merch guy). We talked a little bit and exchanged contact info, because I was hoping my friend and I would get invited to party with them later, which is what usually tends to happen.

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We never partied with them, but that same dude (let’s call him John), had mentioned that he was also going to be traveling with a band that summer on Warped Tour, which I kept in the back of my mind.

Months later, when Warped Tour was quickly approaching and I was starting to get pre-FOMO, I texted him asking if he’d still be on the tour. Miraculously, he texted me saying yes, and that he could snag me VIP passes. Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity – but there was a catch.

Well, kind of. But instead of a hookup or whatever you were expecting, he asked me if I could pick him up some contact solution, and told me the specific brand he wanted. He wasn’t like, “yeah, I can get you passes if you get me the right contact solution,” he was very sweet and appreciative via text message the whole time, and the request for contact solution was kind of an after thought. He wasn’t even creepy.

I assumed this was because Warped Tour is on a strict schedule, and as someone traveling on the tour, you may not have a lot of time to stop at your local CVS or whatever. I could be wrong, but that’s what made the most sense to me.

I naturally asked for a +1, because even though I’m sure many people go to Warped Tour alone, I wasn’t ready for that quite yet. I asked my gay best friend Todd to accompany me, and he found the closest thing to emo in his closet and tagged along for the ride.

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The whole day was amazing – and not just because it was free. Our VIP passes meant we had access to “backstage” and could watch any set from standing on the back of the stage. We could walk around the restricted areas and I could casually ask Ryan Key from Yellowcard if he wanted to take a selfie with me – which I didn’t, because I was trying to maintain a semblance of belonging there and not being a 12-year-old groupie – but the option was there.

I eventually met up with “John” sometime in the afternoon where he was unloading gear for some screamo band which I’ve since forgotten the name of. I presented the contact solution, said hello, he offered me and Todd waters that were disguised in Monster cans, and that was pretty much it.

Did I ever speak to John again? Not that I remember. That was the last Warped Tour I attended, and it was a damn good one.

The moral of the story? You should always talk to the merch guy, and you don’t always have to sell your body to live the groupie life. Just ask Elvira.

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