The Unfortunate Problem with Conventions

Wax Chaotic’s first ever concert was performed at InConJunction in 2011. InCon is one of our local science-fiction conventions, and the two of us have attended it every year for over a decade now. It’s one of the few conventions we plan on attending every year, whether or not we make it onto the schedule. We would love to attend more cons as just ourselves and not as Wax Chaotic, but it’s just not in the budget. Sadly, we’ve reached the point at which attending cons even as the band isn’t within the budget, either. Which is why in 2015, the number of conventions for which Wax Chaotic volunteers will be drastically reduced.

Since that particular InCon, we’ve had the good fortune to perform at many fine conventions around the Midwest and beyond. In fact, we’ve played at more conventions than we have any other type of event or venue. On the whole, it’s been a lot of fun. These are events put on by people who really love a lot of the stuff we love, and they’re all dedicated to giving everyone a fun weekend. But the end of our 2014 tour will mark the end of an era, at least for us.

Because while conventions are a lot of fun to play at, they are also unfortunately very expensive for us. We normally don’t like talking about money in such a public manner—it feels too much like airing our dirty laundry. But money is what currently makes most of the Western world go ’round, and so it’s a necessary evil that everyone has to deal with. And as independent musicians, we don’t have a great deal of it.

Sadly, neither do a lot of fan-run conventions. Conventions are frequently only ever able to pay for things like lodging and travel expenses for their honorary attendees, which of course we do understand. But this means that the financial end of things is pretty painful for us. At any given con, we usually have to pay at least $100 in registration fees; at least twice that for a hotel room; and $40 to $80 for gas, depending on where the event is (and we drive a Prius V that has really good gas mileage). Then there’s also food, parking fees, and vehicle maintenance. And if we want dedicated vending space for the entire weekend, there’s usually an additional fee involved there, too. That all adds up pretty quickly.

So it’s pretty painful all around. On the one hand, the convention people want to put on a good event for their attendees, with a variety of programming and activities to enjoy. And on the other hand, people like us just can’t keep volunteering for events at which they have to pay to play.

Another problem with playing at conventions is that we are by far not the only thing there is to see at such an event. As a result, we don’t tend to recoup the related expenses through merch sales. That sort of business model is only sustainable for so long, and we’ve about reached our limit.

So in 2015, we intend to focus more on other venue and event types. We would love to hear about your favorite coffee house, bookstore, festival, or library, and we would also be thrilled to come perform in your home or worship space (we fit in well at Pagan events and UU churches).

And please, if you’re doing programming for a con and you want us to come, don’t let that stop you from inviting us—that’s different than if we send a cold email with our hands up looking to get on the schedule. We know your finances are just as tight as ours, but if you want us badly enough to go to the trouble of inviting us, maybe we can work something out.

We’ve had a lot of great fun at various conventions over the last few years, and we can’t thank all of them enough for giving us spaces to play. They’ve been really welcoming (and forgiving) as we’ve worked to find our way. But it’s time to take a break from volunteering for them for a little while. In the meantime, if you’re looking for new cons to go to, ask us about our favorites. We’ll talk your ear off.

And we look forward to seeing you in 2015 at a café, in a bookstore, or maybe even in your own backyard.

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The End of 2013

This past weekend, we attended Star Base Indy in our hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. We led open filking Friday night, which was attended by some brave souls curious as to what this kooky “filk” stuff was, and performed one concert each on Saturday and Sunday. SBI is always a fantastic way to end a tour, because it is one of the best examples of all the good parts of the fannish community. And they know how to treat their musicians.

And this past weekend marked the end of our 2013 tour. This year took us to Michigan, either end of Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland), Iowa, and Texas, just to name a few places. We met lots of really nifty people and bade a fond farewell to Ally, the startlingly talented singer/songwriter/flautist/keyboardist/percussionist, whom we miss. We learned a lot about ourselves, as well as about what we’re doing it and how to do it. It’s been a really fantastic year in a lot of ways. As always, lovelings, we can’t thank you enough for giving us the opportunity to do all that we do.

And we’re going to keep doing it! I’d say we’re already looking ahead to 2014, but the truth of the matter is that we’ve been doing that since about April of this year. We’re just so excited by all this that it’s difficult to stop planning for the long-term. So here’s what we’re looking at thus far.

Next year will take us to places such as New Jersey, Washington state, and Canada. We’re reaching for more house concerts than ever before (or at least more non-convention concerts than ever before—the overhead for those is usually pretty painful), and we’ve already confirmed many. We’re making good progress in our efforts to get out to new crowds in different states, and we’ll be returning to some familiar stomping grounds, as well. Other confirmed shows include InConJunction and MuseCon. We’ll also be coming back to Cleveland as Featured Guests at the first ever Cleveland ConCoction. The official dates and times for many shows will be announced on the site and through the mailing list in January, with additional details for other shows announced as we work them out.

Next year will also see the release of Katt’s next two albums, which we are using an extended winter break to complete. Normally we would emerge from our holiday respite in February for shenanigans (and jam) at Capricon, but this time we need to stay home and work like the mad people we are to finish “Faces in the Fog” and “[untitled]”. Check out Katt’s studio blog for more information regarding these albums, including pre-order opportunities, which will become available in January.

We’re also toying with some ideas for new shirts, but they are as of yet only in their infancy, so we can’t say too much about them. Just know that they are on our minds.

Other than that, we’ve not much to report. We hope all of you have safe and happy holidays, and that you may be shown as much love as you’ve given us through all the craziness. Your encouragement and support mean more than we can say.

Love and light to you all.