You might call them unsung. It's not so much that they don't get respect—though there's a little of that too—but mostly, there is no singer. But one of the advantages of an instrumental band is, of course, not having to talk over a frontman complaining all night about his love life.
For three nights, the second annual Instro Summit invades The Cave, offering a variety of sounds to please your senses and motivate your ass without ending all conversation.
Last year's fest only featured four bands, but there was so much interest in performing this year that festival founder Crispy Bess of Killer Filler found himself with 17 acts spread over three nights.
Some of it could be the difficulty instrumental acts face finding gigs. Indeed, Bess conceived of the Instro Summit much like Sleazefest—as a way to trade shows and network with other (instrumental) bands.
"At the time, there didn't seem to be a lot around here, though quite a few more have come out of the woodwork in the last year," says Bess, who's already a little exhausted between the planning, his day job and rehearsals with his band and the Link Wray cover band, Phatlynx, which is forming just to close out Saturday night.
While Bess concentrated on finding party-friendly danceable acts to which "you can hold a beer in one hand and your girlfriend in the other," he didn't limit himself to the surf and R&B style favored by Killer Filler. While many acts fall into that category, there's also the moody post-rock theatrics of Greensboro's Eszett, which Bess compares to Explosions in the Sky, exotic, prog-inflected Durham funk fusionists Jaafar and the lighthearted, genre-spanning hooks of Boston's Weisstronauts.
Bess especially recommends Baltimore's Atomic Mosquitos on Saturday, and Daikaiju, which closes the summit on Sunday. The former's supple surf grooves largely inspired Bess to found the festival, and the latter are perhaps the finest act in the genre, and certainly the festival's biggest catch.
"They're like Man or Astroman? meets the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," explains Bess. "It's very loud, frantic music. They all wear Kabuki masks, and they have a crazy audiovisual show that uses footage of old monster movies and psychedelic lighting."
Even if you're not on the bill, there's a chance to join in the fun—Bess is inviting as many guitarists as The Cave can handle to join Phatlynx on stage for Wray's "Rumble." Besides that, Saturday night also features a reunion show by old regional favorites The X-Rayons, featuring amplifier builder Steve Carr.
A terrific weekend with no bad poetry.