By Tyler Crooks
There was an air of excitement in beautiful Anaheim, California as the 2013 Winter NAMM Show was set to take place. The entire music industry had gathered together for 4 wonderful days of musical innovation, celebrity appearances, product unveilings, and so much more. The NAMM Show has always started off with a bang, and this year was no exception. It was a veritable smorgasbord of living legends and legendary products crammed together in the Anaheim Convention Center.
Day one was filled with incredible sights and sounds, from artist signings, to product demos, this year’s NAMM Show looked promising. To kick things off, Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater fame demoed Motu’s new “Symphonic Instrument 2,” an incredible and versatile tool for any keyboardist. Of course, Mr. Rudess made everything look incredibly simple, while the gentleman representing Motu explained all the technical details, many of which were quite confusing to a non-keyboard player like me. Confusion aside, the demonstration was quite enjoyable, and it was rather inspiring to see how versatile the keyboard can be.
The day continued on with several high-profile artist signings. Geezer Butler, Lita Ford, and many more rock ‘n roll heavyweights were out in full force, signing autographs, taking pictures, and interacting with their fans in attendance. The great thing about the NAMM show is that while it brings the merchants closer to their customers, it brings the fans lucky enough to attend closer to their favorite artists.
As the day grew shorter, and the events began to wind down, people began to take more interest in the actual products than the celebrities endorsing them. The booths were filled with prospective buyers and other interested parties, and everyone seemed generally happy; truly a great way to begin the week!
The second day was a lot more hectic, as more and more people began to pour into the convention center. By 1 o’clock, the halls were packed to the gills with people wandering around, almost aimlessly, trying to take everything in all at once. The booths became far more crowded as people tried to catch a glimpse of the musicians occupying them. The relaxed atmosphere of the day before had gone away, and the air around the convention center was a bit more hectic and overwhelmed. Of course, being that it’s the NAMM show, and that there’s so much to see and do, it’s understandable that people might freak out a bit, especially if it’s their first time attending the show. Nevertheless, the show went on smoothly. It was interesting to see the excited look on people’s faces as they walked away from the signings, in awe that they finally met their heroes. It was rather beautiful, really.
Day three was when everything really came to a head and things got crazy. As it was a Saturday, everyone decided to cut loose and have some fun. Drinks were being poured at an alarming rate, and intoxicated fans were roaming the halls, being a general nuisance. This was something I had never encountered at the NAMM show before, and I hope I never encounter it again, as NAMM is not a rock show where you go and get drunk. It’s arguably the mecca of the music industry, and while it shouldn’t be treated as some kind of holy land, it should still be respected for what it is; a professional trade show.
That being said, however, Saturday was given some of the best events out of the entirety of the show. Artists like Gary Holt and David Ellefson were out and about, signing autographs and interacting with everybody. Bands like Shinedown graced their adoring fans and things began to smooth out again. There were demos and showcases aplenty, and the booths were filling up to capacity, something I’ve never seen at the NAMM show before.
Signings and appearances aside, the 2013 NAMM show was a spectacular showcase for the musical instrument companies. Schecter had their new Gary Holt signature model on display, which, upon close inspection, I can say is a tonal and aesthetic beast. Gibson Guitars showcased their newest and greatest, which of course are the guitars we all know and love. From robotic Les Paul’s, to $10,000 SGs, they had everything on display and ready for anyone with a NAMM badge to play. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that their newer high-end acoustic models are the pinnacle of style, class, and tonal beauty; true works of art.
Orange Amps went all out this year, showcasing their standard line of Rockerverb and “Terror” amps, among others. Unfortunately, they weren’t available to play, so I can’t comment on this year’s crop of Oranges, but if they’re anything like their previous models, they’re a study in perfect craftsmanship and years of dedication to incredible tone.
Overall, I would say that this year’s NAMM show was an absolute success. My only problem with the show this year was that they were letting children into the show. As far as I can remember, NAMM has always been an 18+ event, with good reason. I believe that it’s dangerous to take a child into that kind of crowd and environment, and that the risks of doing so outweigh the potential benefits. It would probably be best to hire a babysitter and wait until they’re just a little older to attend.
Other than that, this year’s NAMM show was informative, entertaining, and one hell of a good time. If this year’s show is any indicator of what the musical world can expect in the coming months, we’re in for a serious treat, and a great year, filled with massive innovation and great musical progress.