This is NAMM. With close to 100,000 people attending, it is one of the largest trade shows around, and creates a vortex of humanity and vehicular traffic in and around the Anaheim Convention Center and surrounding hotels. It’s like a four-day mini-city concentrated in a small area—can you say “gridlock?” The opportunities for networking and people watching are endless. The most popular areas belong to the manufacturers of instruments traditionally associated with rock music—guitars, basses and drums. Sometimes it gets so crowded it is difficult to walk up and down the aisles. Denim and leather are in plentiful supply, along with the obligatory aging, dyed-black hair overweight rockers (what’s up with that, anyway?) who haven’t realized that 1989 was a long time ago. Live music abounds, with bands playing both on site and at the numerous “NAMM Jams” scattered throughout clubs in Southern California.
This is NAMM. Under the same roof, but worlds away are the specialty areas. In the Lounge 88, the acoustic piano room, you’ll see manufacturers reps impeccably dressed in tailored suits. Go to the brass and woodwind areas where the jazz dudes are wailing away on saxophones and trombones. Take the escalator to the lower level, which is mainly dedicated to acoustic instruments and you’ll hear some amazing finger picking on the six-string. Head on over to the arena section of the convention center where the DJ and lighting gear are exhibited. As you walk in through the smoke effects and the flashing lights, it’s like being transported to an entirely different world.
This is NAMM. There’s a part of the show that many casual attendees aren’t aware of. In small meeting rooms tucked away at various locations, there are deals quietly being closed (it is a trade show, after all). Leads are being followed, contacts are being made, retailers are meeting with manufacturers, and contracts are being signed.
This is NAMM. Wander to the center of the action, the Grand Plaza where the main stage is. In front of the stage is where the food trucks are assembled, the delicious smell of international foods wafts over the area. Every last open spot in the courtyard is taken with people who are enjoying—depending on the time of day—lunch or dinner. Watch as the Jesus freaks try (and fail) to convince rockers that they’re going to burn in hell for listening to the devil’s music. Join the drum circle, where anyone can be John Bonham for a few minutes (well, at least in their minds).
This is NAMM. It is crazy sexy loud light complete sensory overload that taxes mind and body to the fullest. It is ringing ears and aching feet. It is lines at the coffee bars as long as lines for alcohol–at some point, caffeine becomes a priority. Many a brave soul has started out with brave intentions of attending all four days, only to succumb to the excesses of too much partying and too little sleep.
This was NAMM…see you in 2017.
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