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Celebrating its fifth year, and currently the largest all-instrumental music festival in the world, the 2013 Instro Summit started as a four-band, one night show at the Cave in Chapel Hill. It has since grown into a monster 3-day, 27 band extravaganza, held this year at the Casbah in Durham. Bands from all over the US and elsewhere gather here to play (but not sing) the finest music they can offer, covering such diverse categories as surf, soul, rock, lounge, country, punk, and “I’m not sure what you’d call it”. No Jam Band noodlers or Prog-rock experiments here; all bands play music that is fun and easy to dance to, especially with a PBR in one hand and your date in the other.
Surf music rules the Instro Summit, but when you get this many bands together, you find that everybody does it differently. Indiana's The Madeira plays lush European and African-inspired melodies, While Tallahassee’s Intoxicators rip out a cowpunk version of surf that would make Joe Maphis AND the Trashmen proud. Pennsylvanians Great White Caps knock out a giddy Jamaican-flavored pile o’ fun, While bands like Team Void, Blood Red River, Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion and Kill, Baby...Kill All have some serious punk attitude in mind, but clearly ain’t listening to the same records. And we haven’t even mentioned the straight ahead surf of the Diamondheads, El Mirage and the Surge, the Horror-themed stompers of the Coffin Daggers, the Fuzz-filled Psycho-Delics of the High Fidelics, The “Gulag Tunes” of Russia’s Vivisectors, or the aggressive “3rd Wave surf” from the Aqualads, Atomic Mosquitos and others. And this is only HALF of the bands attending, the rest playing music that is perhaps less definable or more diverse, but just as much fun.
Other highlights this year include the “Can You Play as Wack’d as Link Wray” guitar solo competition, where guitar players try and knock out and wildest solo during the Link Wray song “I’m Branded” to win a $500 suitcase full of prizes and swag, The “Rumble Jam” where as many guitarists as can be fitted on stage all play the song “Rumble” at the same time (20 guitars last year–a new record), plus two special tribute acts: One, a complete performance of the Astronauts “Surfin’ With...” album (considered by many to be the greatest surf music recording of all time), and a special tribute to the late, legendary Alabama surf band the Penetrators, featuring their original rhythm section.
Tickets are 12 dollars per night, or you can get a three-day pass for 24 dollars. Cheapskates should note that on Saturday, May 4th, all bands playing from 12-5pm are free and all ages, which also includes the open mic Lunch Jam. For more details and the complete lineup, visit casbahdurham.com, or look up “The Instro Summit” on Facebook, Google Plus, or MySpace.
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