Friends, do yourself a solid and make this weekend one to remember. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Durham’s own Casbah, located at 1007 W. Main Street, will play host to the 2013 Instro Summit, which has relocated this year due to expansion. The Summit itself will consist of three days of instrumental music, featuring over 25 different bands and stretching several styles and genres. The Instro Summit is the largest gathering of its kind in the world, and for a three day pass available for only $24, quite frankly it is hard to think of reasons not to go. To further sweeten the musical explosion, single day tickets are only $12 and from 12pm-5pm on Saturday, May 4th, admission to Casbah is completely free. Yes, free. Whether you are a college kid looking to relieve some stress from exams, impress a date cheaply, or a savvy live music aficionado looking to save some extra dough for the beer line, the Instro Summit is happy to cater to your budget.
Upon first glance at the lineup of slated bands to perform at the Instro Summit, one may say to themselves, “I have quite literally never heard of any of these acts.” The thing about that is, this is a good thing. This is a great opportunity for discovery, something that music and culture depend on. I cannot tell you the personal pleasure I get from discovering a new favorite sound for the first time, especially if I stumble upon it with almost no previous recommendation.
I remember suffering through the sweltering heat at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival when I simply had to sit down — eventually taking took refuge under a tree located near a crowd that had been forming to hear an artist I had never heard of. Two hours later and to this day, Xavier Rudd remains as one of my favorite musicians (and incidentally most of his compositions are instrumental). At the Xavier show I discovered an Aborigine who played the didgeridoo, harmonica, and guitar at the same time, all with the assistance of a looping machine. And this is just one example of what one can find by stepping into a new and different place or scene. In the previous case, the discovery was accidental, although this weekend my presence and eagerness will be premeditated. I urge everyone to share my enthusiasm in an opportunity to see something new. Furthermore, a lot of the band names filling up the venue are simply fantastic: The Surge!, Coffin Daggers, Great White Caps, and the Mystery Men are just a few examples of the innovative platform I intend to experience as I travel into Bull City.
Additionally, instrumental musicians are for the most part masters of their craft. Without lyrics to lean on per se, the artist or group lets the instruments lead and talk, create space and confusion, and take the listener on a journey that only live music can deliver. This kind of playing requires precise attention to detail, very good improvisation skills (something always fun to watch live), and a progressive sound — one that builds upon itself. My initial inclination is that with so many different bands performing, one is bound to find something new which resonates with them. These multi-day venue based festivals are really cool places to meet new people as well, as they attract a wide range of music lovers from across the region.
As the semester draws to a rapid end, and the summer breeze nears, ready your eardrums for an instrumental assault at Casbah. Join me in an expedition of discovery, innovation, and flat out partying this weekend at Durham’s Instro Summit, and find your next favorite band. Until then folks, I’ll be on the old dusty trail, finding musical notes wherever the wind blows. As always, have a good week and I’ll see you at the show!