The 2nd annual Austin Instrumental Music Festival, or AIM Fest, kicked off on a sunny Saturday afternoon. This year, it was hosted by Empire Control Room & Garage, a multi-stage, 15,000 square foot, indoor and outdoor music venue.  AIM Fest may very well be the largest predominantly rock-based gathering of instrumental musicians in the nation.

A is Red, the 2012-13 Austin Music Awards recipient for “Best Instrumental Band,” greeted early attendees and began the festivities on the Garage stage, while The Baffles provided their self-described surf-rock soundscapes on the Control Room stage.

In addition to the music, many artists and sponsors had tents set up as well. Texas NORML, a nonprofit at the forefront of cannabis reform in Texas, was in attendance, educating festival attendees on the finer points of cannabis reform and registering voters of all ages.

Later in the day, Violinda, an instrumental violinist, soothed the crowd with her calming presence and symphonic musings, while Bright Like The Sun amped up the energy, and got the crowd excited for the nighttime festivities to come.  Inside on the Control Room stage, Descendants Of Erdrick rocked the crowd with their ferocious but eloquent “video game music” tributes. With nearly twenty bands in attendance it was fun hopping back and forth between the two stages, grabbing a drink at the bar, and striking up conversation.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a personal favorite of mine, slayed the crowd and incited some much welcome moshing. TGLH is loud, pulsing, and unapologetic in all the right ways. Buy one of their albums or don’t…but you really should. They have released seven albums in five years and are going hard.

Outside, FERMN mellowed things out a bit with their horn ensemble and an artist accompanied them on stage, which was a nice treat.

Things got funky in the Control Room as Satalights took stage with their Sounds of Color art performance with Banana-man, hula twirler and pigeon head all in tow. They were certainly a crowd pleaser.

Next, Dakota Applebaum’s experimental trio “Verisimilitude” brought the house down. Dakota is a man of many talents and AIM Fest’s very own organizer.

Tia Carrera took it up yet another notch and nearly melted our faces. Jason Morales’ never-ending wall of sound and mesmerizing riffs drove everyone within earshot to the front of the stage where they were beat back by the hard-hitting drumming of Erik Conn and deep bellowing ‘see you in Valhalla ‘ bass bashings of Jamey Simms.

Finally, the headliner Scale The Summit“took the stage and rounded out the evening with their intricate, distinct sound.

Looking forward to the 3rd annual lineup!

  Douglas Rome is DMNDR’s newest Satellite contributor from ATX. Look out for more of his work in the near future!