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NAMM 2016 Was Like Disneyland for Musicians

Posted by on February 3, 2016 at 4:43 pm

The following is a guest editorial by Gear Gods editor Trey Xavier about his experience at the NAMM show. Gear Gods has over 300 clips from the show including product unveilings, performances and more. Check it out.

It should be impossible to become jaded by the NAMM show.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but having been to now five NAMMs (three winter shows in Anaheim and two of the smaller summer shows in Nashville) I really feel like they just get better every year. The National Association of Music Merchants takes over the entire Anaheim Convention Center for most of a week every year to host 100,000 people – that's a decent-sized American city worth of artists, brand reps, builders, musical instrument retail outlet employees, music students, has-beens and wannabes. The possibilities are ENDLESS!

I spent my four days there talking with friends new and old, wheelin' and dealin', and of course filming loads of video for Gear Gods' comprehensive coverage of the event. My only regret is that I can't ever get to all the things on my list because it's only four days long. I would legitimately live there if they would let me. I pretty much run from one thing to the next from the minute it opens til the lights go out, because there's always something going on. Even if you went in with zero plans, just walk 20 feet in any direction and you can find something to pique your interest. Stevie Wonder wanders the floor amongst the mortals, as do metal heroes of every stripe (most of them will even stop for a chat).

Some will even punch you in the face, for free!

It's ostensibly a place where manufacturers and brands showcase their new wares to prospective retail clients and endorsees, but it's become so much more than that. Every attendee is there for a different reason, and yet some are drawn to the vibe of the place, and go with no particular goal in mind, other than the hope of witnessing greatness or seeing something new.

It has a way of shrinking your ego, too, which many musicians need pretty badly I think – I get the feeling that Victor Wooten is there for mainly such a purpose. Sometimes I come across him playing at a booth, only to turn around and see him performing at another booth, blowing minds in two places at once. 100k people, and so many of them so much better than me. How to get noticed in this sea of talent?

One way is to just be damned amazing, and a little schticky, like this dude playing guitar and keyboard at the same time over an EDM track:

It's fun at every turn.

Looking for something wacky and new? There are plenty of insane geniuses and mad scientists – most are in the basement (Hall E) but there's at least one in every hall.

There are fun and crazy performances going on pretty much every minute of the show, if you can find them:

I know it's not cool to be enthusiastic and bright-eyed about anything – I'll probably get a lot of shit for this article.  Some people have become jaded by NAMM, they've done it 100 times, they hate being on their feet for 4 days straight, they're tired of watching YouTube guitarists and guys from 80's bands and Stevie Wonder – I say they've become blind to the magic and possibility that the show offers. There's always something new to discover, and endless inspiration on the showroom floor. I'm just now, a week later, recovering from a bug I caught and from barely sleeping that week – and I already can't wait to go next year. NAMM is in Anaheim, California, literally across the street from Disneyland – but the real happiest place on earth for any musician is inside the Anaheim Convention Center.

See all the stuff we covered for NAMM 2016 on Gear Gods, and if you're planning on going to the show next year, see these two survival guide videos on how to prepare:

Gear Gods has over 300 clips from the show including product unveilings, performances and more. Check it out.

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