A common practice for local hardcore, punk, garage and rock groups — essentially any independent band not playing covers — is to open for a traveling act, without pay, thereby freeing up the door money to cover the costs of the traveling act. This "pay-it-forward" approach is typical in DIY music scenes.
But Constant Cocoon Booking has a different idea, one that aims to even out the payment for every participating act.
"I think what sets us apart is that we are just two people in our bedrooms, trying to bring musicians together and make sure that everyone can know what it's like to get paid to do what they love," says local musician-turned-promoter Joshua "Patches" Minor.
Minor and fellow St. Louisan Kirin Pax co-founded their promotion company in the spring of 2015, hoping to help elevate lesser-known bands in the St. Louis area and booking dozens of shows across town. In recent months, the pair has thrown all of its efforts into Woopsie Fest, a massive three-day music festival with more than 60 bands — including out-of-town headlining acts Maps & Atlases, Dowsing and Mock Orange — set to take place across Fubar's two stages this weekend.
In keeping with Constant Cocoon's mission, local acts make up roughly one-quarter of the lineup, ranging from newer groups such as Boys Club to mainstays such as Jr. Clooney and Staghorn. Such an ambitious undertaking isn't cheap, especially since Constant Cocoon is committed to paying every act on the bill. So far the pair has partially funded the festival through ticket sales and smaller fundraising events.
"Asking all the bands was super fun," Pax says, "and trying to get everything together at the right time is a little nerve-racking. And hoping that people will show up to cover the guarantees is too."
"It's not only cool to see the bands from out of town, but also the band who probably rehearses five blocks away," Minor adds. "[Paying bands] is an aspect of the music business that we have to be a part of. But it's the community focus that I think really sets us apart."
Pax notes that many of the locals donate their payment to the touring acts anyway. But she prefers to provide bands with the option of forfeiting their share of the door money instead of assuming musicians should be performing for free.
"We definitely try to help the local bands as much as possible," Pax says. "We try to make sure everyone is paid fairly for their time."
To help transition between sets at the fest, local shop Mills Custom will provide an impressive backline of artisan amps and speaker cabinets. Leave Your Mark printshop will offer screen-printed posters and t-shirts to commemorate the event, with proceeds going directly to the bands. Once all the guarantees have been met, 25 percent of the profits will benefit RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.
Even with the stacked lineup, Pax and Minor still lament the few headlining acts they nearly managed to book — namely Tiny Moving Parts, which was featured near the top of the bill when the festival was first announced. Still, its untimely cancellation opened the door for more bands to be added, such as Oso Oso.
"We already have bands that are interested for next year," Pax says. "Especially some of the potential headliners who we asked and said, 'We can't do it this year but we'd like to do it next year.'"
Woopsie Fest stands as a springboard for Constant Cocoon. Not only is the group looking to the future with the addition of new partner Chris Garner, but it hopes to start working on Woopsie Fest 2017 right away. Pax personally aims to open a venue — a safe space for people to go not only for shows but also during the day. Minor plans on helping more bands on the ground level through a record label, but will focus on contributing to the community by booking shows in the meantime.
"I've never stopped loving music and helping my musician friends out," Minor says. "I really just like playing music and listening to it and hearing my friends play too. I would love it if I was doing this for a living."