AS IN PREVIOUS YEARS, the anticipation of going to NAMM brings much excitement. On arrival, it doesn't disappoint. Walking into the Anaheim Convention Center is always mind-blowing due to the sheer variety of music-making paraphernalia that covers every square inch of the place. Concert pianists mix with metalheads, and jazz trombonists mingle with punk rockers. Everybody is friendly with everybody else, and like Disneyland down the road, it's the Happiest Place On Earth. The Music Industry showing off its newest and brightest toys is like the Playstation 3 of last Christmas - you saw it and wanted it but you couldn't buy it 'cause it wasn't available. Fender, Gibson, ESP and B C Rich all had guitars you would rip your heart out for ( or even someone else's heart. ) Marshall had enough amps stacked that, if they were all cranked up, could be heard from the moon. The usual mass-attendance of Rock stars were everywhere to be seen, signing autographs and having their photos taken with anyone who would ask - Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars of Motley Crue, Slash and Duff McKagan of Velvet Revolver, Kelly King of Slayer, Rikki Rocket of Poison, Peppermint Creeps, members of Slipknot, Iggy Pop, Pantera - the list was endless. After many hours and many miles of walking ( this is a 4-day event, remember! ) At 6.00pm on Saturday night the NAMM doors closed and it was time to make our way to the Suicidal Tendencies show at the Galaxy theatre in Santa Ana, around 6 miles away. This was a show for NAMM and Monster energy drink guests only. Guest D.J's were Jamie Jasta from Hatebreed and Willie Adler from Lamb of God. They did a great job of spinning some great music, taking requests from the audience ( what happened to mine for Ministry? ) despite getting heckled by Dino from Fear Factory. In between the bands that played they threw out t-shirts and CD's and gave away a guitar at the end of the night. But before all that, Suicidal Tendencies took to the stage. The Bass guitarist Steve Brunner, wearing a very cool Star Wars hoodie ( which I just saw in Disneyland - yeah man, I know where you went over the holidays! ) was the happiest guy I've ever seen on stage, grinning broadly throughout the entire gig. Actually the whole band were relaxed and happy, and with their infectious energy soon had the whole place jumping. Mike Muir probably lost 20lbs with his unique way of singing and dancing at the same time. Then it was back to the party at the Hilton hotel, which was where NAMM members and Rock Stars rocked ( and drank! ) the night away. Sitting next to Vinnie Paul of Pantera and Dimebag Darryl's wife Rita, I was amazed to find that they had brought the cop who shot Dimebag's killer dead. He was treated as the hero of the night, and rightly so. I also spoke to members of Stryper, Flock of Seagulls! ( remember them? ), groupie Pumpkin Pie ( who is such a sweetie - they made a movie out of her life ), Kiss, Murderdolls, Juliya Chernetsky ( the girl with the camcorder on Fuse TV ), Metal Sanaz ( who was having a little girl-on-girl action with a porn star ) Seymour Duncan ( if you play guitar you know this guy and his pick-ups ) - the list goes on and on. There was also a live band who were absolutely phenomenal, pulling a massive crowd in the Lobby of the Hilton playing cover versions from Alice in Chains, Billy Idol ( the entire crowd sang "Rebel Yell"! ), AC/DC etc etc. In fact, the "Rock Hilton" was so jam-packed with people it must have broken every fire regulation in Anaheim......!! Then at 2.00am it was time to leave and take our sleepy Editor back to his hotel room, the party still in full swing. Next year he's staying IN the Hilton............!!!
NAMM is always one of the biggest times of the year for both rock stars and gear enthusiasts and this year was no different. Held annually at The Anaheim Convention Center, this smorgasbord of live performance, celebrity autograph signings, rock star hob knobbing, and instrument launch lines was an all out buffet for both musicians and fans alike! What a better place to take the brand new line-up of The Plastics, my professional groupie crew to try out their special skills. The girls and I spent four fun-filled days ushering ourselves between hotel rooms, parties, concerts and the trade show and we ran into everyone from Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue to Stevie Wonder! Some others on hand at the show to sign autographs or simply just to shop for more endorsements were: to Malcolm Jamal Warner, formally from The Cosby Show, Mick Mars, Slash, Duff McKagan, Rudy Sarzo, L.A. Guns, Living Colour, Kerry King of Slayer, Alice In Chains, Chimera, The Peppermint Creeps, Rikki Rockett of Poison, Skid Row, Gilby Clarke, Vains of Jenna, Eric Griffin of Murderdolls, Slipknot, Twisted Sister, Korn, Paul Stanley of Kiss, DJ Ashba and many, many more!
April, Diana and I arrive at The Convention Center decked out in pink and black schoolgirl outfits and begin attracting attention immediately. Its not too hard considering the male to female ratio at NAMM is about 50/1! The first day is pretty mellow so we use it to get our bearings and map out our plan of attack for the next few days. Strolling up and down isles of shiny new guitars, drum kits, and even tubas we stop at the Guitar Hero stand for a little video gaming r n’ r. We run into Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, Steve of L.A. Guns, and Rikki Rockett of Poison who has launched his own custom drum line, Rockett Drums. We also got stopped by Dario Loraina, Jani Lane’s guitar player, who asked us to sign a copy of Rock City News that features us on the cover. My, how the tables have turned! It’s not until later in the day that we realize we’ve only booked a hotel room for Friday and Saturday and had no place to stay. Luckily, Johnny Monico of Enuff Z’nuff was nice enough to offer up his room for the night.
We check into the Monage Hotel, which I think is one of the better establishments among the NAMM hotel beating path and meet up with the remaining two Plastics, Satania and Courtney. It’s all about the pink and black lingerie today and we are stopped by gear representatives, fans, and random perverts around every corner wanting to be photographed with us. We happily oblige them. After grabbing some coffee and running into Kenny G in the pressroom, we enter the expo. Today we mill around the Coffin Case booth where we get the tip off that Extreme and Living Colour will be playing at The Hilton later that night. We also checked out the new line from Schecter guitars, which included a pretty cool Night of the Living Dead guitar, where we were lucky enough to score passes to The Addicts show, which was to be held the following day at House of Blues. The highlight of Day 2 was definitely meeting Slash. We waited in line for a while but it was well worth it! He is such a doll and was so sweet to all of us, especially me (wink!). We also ran into Kerry King of Slayer who seemed to be endorsed by nearly every company present! Next it was time for a dinner break with our host and Crypt editor, David Necro. We dined at Kai and it was probably the only good food we had all weekend. Our morning and evening meals consisted of oranges, Oreos and beer- but hey, its rock n’ roll, right? After dinner, we headed back over to The Hilton where the lobby seemed to become an extended version of The Rainbow Bar & Grill. Scattered everywhere were rockers and rock stars partying the night away. We ran into Traci Michaelz of The Peppermint Creeps who led a parade of colorful freaks, including us who were still dressed in our fluorescent pink lingerie, and Jackie from Vains of Jenna to a roof top area where we could get high. Good times! After the smoke break, it was time to get back to work so we busted into the Living Colour performance where we snaked our way to the front within seconds. Living Colour sounded amazing as if they had never taken a brake from touring. They were joined onstage by members of Fishbone and some Australian burlesque dancers, but everyone was really just waiting for them to play “Cult of Personality” which they did, but not until a good 45 minutes into their set. I wish they had played it earlier, because although they are amazing musicians, the energy wasn’t quite as powerful as the first half of the set. I’m not sure who else played that night because we somehow ended back up on the roof where the party continued with some young goth/glam rockers called Trogg until we decided we better get some sleep for the upcoming day. Stumbling out of the Hilton we somehow ended up in a stretch limo instead of a cab and made our way back to The Monage. Stopping at the hotel bar for a drink before bed, we ran into Lacey Connor from Nocturne and VH-1’s Rock of Love. After sharing some girl talk we retired to our room, only to be disturbed by a knock on the door. It was Traci Michaelz. So much for sleeping!
We arrive back at the Convention Center around 10:00am so we can ensure our spot on line to wait for Nikki Sixx, who unfortunately was an hour late to his signing. After waiting grumpily to get our pics and give Nikki a copy of our Rock City issue, we made our way back into the madness that we now coined Viet-NAMM. I took Diana over to the Daisy Rock guitar booth where we tried to convince the rep that she should give us the sparkly pink glitter guitar from the Rock Candy collection but all we scored was her business card. We then attempted to get a glance at Paul Stanley, but the line was around the freaking room so we passed. It was Saturday now, and the biggest day of the event, so we decided to split up into tag teams so we could cover more ground. Satania and April went to meet Mick Marrs while Diana and I went up to the second floor where there were special showrooms for Fender and Gibson. You needed an appointment to get into the Gibson room, but they recognized me from last year and waved us through. Inside, we ran into Gilby Clarke from Guns N’ Roses. We also got a demonstration of the new computerized Les Paul that tunes itself! What’s next, guitars that play themselves? Ingenious! We next went on to view the new Fender line where we ran into Duff McKagan from G N’R and Velvet Revolver. He was very interested in the idea of a groupie company and took plenty of time to chat with us! The absolute highlight of Friday night was the Schecter show at House of Blues featuring Seventh Void and The Adicts. We were so tired by the time the show started that we were literally nodding off during Seventh Void which features members of Type O’ Negative, but that isn’t any testament to their playing. Their sound was more straight ahead rock than Type O but still with a dark flavor of droning vocals and metal guitar solos. It was decent, but I still prefer the showmanship of Peter Steele. The real showstoppers of the night were The Adicts who hit the stage with a blast of confetti and kept the surprises rolling from the first song to the last encore. The club looked like a riot broke out at the circus by the end of the night as we wafted through the sea of confetti, silly string and giant inflatable balls that The Adicts periodically assaulted the crowd with as they blazed through their catalog of punk rock anthems including “Joker In the Pack” and “Naughty Girl”. Although I was fatigued as hell, I somehow caught my second wind when they burst into “Viva la Revolution” and flew into a pogoing singing frenzy, which caught the loving attention of Monkey who took a moment to dance with The Plastics. By the end of the show I had lost my voice and we were all delirious from lack of sleep and concert afterglow, so we decided to skip the chaos at The Hilton where Heart had been playing a special show and go back to the room to sleep for real this time.
The last day at NAMM was the least eventful as many people began leaving early probably due to being burned out by excessive partying. The Plastics, however are troopers and decided to use the slightly calmer atmosphere as an opportunity to focus on the gear and talk to product reps. We viewed a fun guitar by Luna that had an interchangeable transparent face plate that you could place your own photos underneath to customize the look and a rhinestone encrusted drum kit by Dm drums. We also played around with the Guitar Hero prototype guitar controllers. They had the body of a real wooden guitar with the electronic controls of the game built in and it came in three designs; Ozzy Osborne, Kiss, and Pantera. According to Satania, who is the Guitar Hero expert of the group, there are still some bugs to be worked out in them. We did give another go at playing Rock Band though and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly! The event rapped up around 5pm and we were finally free of the madness. Good times, though! I recommend NAMM for any gear head or music fanatic- that is if you are lucky enough to score passes, bitches! ROCK!
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