When: Fri., May 4, 7 p.m.-2 a.m. 2012
If three times is a charm, then what's the fourth iteration of Instro Summit? This three-day festival of instrumental rock, which runs from Friday until Sunday, is the largest of its kind in the U.S., featuring 21 bands from across the country. While surf dominates the style, it's not the only take. Terrific Indianapolis trio Destination: Earth (Friday) fuses surf to spy music and elements of punk, indie and space rock. They share the stage that night with the Weisstronauts , whose sound also spills out of surf, staining everything from new wave to '60s garage-pop to country to lounge. Similarly, Sunday's headlining trio Concrete Rivals are as informed by metal and classic rock as anything. Meanwhile, Thee Icepicks claim to be zombie surfers from Maine while sonically revisiting the menace of underrated punk guitarist East Bay Ray (the Dead Kennedys). Neat stuff.
Those looking for more classic surf rock will hardly be disappointed. There are tasty breakers every night, and a high tide on Saturday. It runs from 17-years-strong Connecticut quartet 9th Wave, who carve out a mean version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," through Atomic Mosquitos' supple, exotica-tinged surf soundtracks, into the Tiki tornado of Tallahassee's spirited quartet the Intoxicators. The evening concludes with the genre's finest: The Coffin Daggers' brand of surf swaggers with dirt-beneath-the-nails ruggedness and barely restrained psychobilly intensity. The festival's lineups and coordination have gotten better each year, and judging only from the assembled talent, this ought to be the best year yet. For the full schedule (which includes a Saturday afternoon Rumble Jam at the Station), visit caverntavern.com. —Chris Parker