By the time I left the Anaheim Convention Center Saturday night, my voice sounded like I’d drunk a case of whiskey while gargling nails, my feet were sore from miles of walking from end to end of the convention center for meetings, my ears were nearly bleeding from so much loud cacophony, and I wondered why the hell I put myself through all this. In other words, it was another successful NAMM show.
I put myself through it of course because I meet friends and acquaintances that I only see at the show. I get to break bread with wonderful people and the camaraderie, on the one hand, and industry opportunities if you’re in the MI Industry make it not just worthwhile, but enjoyable and valuable. Seeing remote co-workers and supervisors, friends and professionals is the important thing; seeing the new shiny toys is fun, but that’s become the most minor part of it to me.
This year I decided that instead of the stress of trying to find parking, I would use Lyft to call up rides on my phone to and from the show. It worked like a charm, and even ended up being cheaper than parking in the lots, so that seems to be the way to go for the future. A less pleasant sign of the world we live in is that for the first time in the decades I’ve been going, they brought in metal detectors we had to walk through and made everyone put their bags and metal objects in trays, etc. Sort of like airport security before they decided that the way to make us more safe is by irradiating our genitals in the nude scanners.
Yes, this was completely inconvenient—everyone had tons of metal in them and on them, and I don’t just mean bags, I mean musicians who have piercings and so on. It seemed like every other person stopped the line so they could give them a personal wand check or pat down. I heard as many as 100,000 people were there this year, so that’s a lot of pat downs. Thankfully, I had an exhibitor badge (I edit documentation for an exhibitor at NAMM) so I got to stand in smaller lines than the ones that looked hundreds of people long. But it was still annoying. By Saturday, when they’d been seeing the same people for three days and pretty much knew everyone, security was finally moving faster. It was at the point where I’d hand over my backpack, say “I’ve only got snacks” and they’d nod, confirm that the main pocket was empty, and just send me on my way.
I have to say, I know that “security theater” is a thing that some people need to make them feel safe, even though we all know that someone who really wanted to kill someone or blow up a building would find a way around a metal detector or pat down. But I think that this closed-to-the-public convention of creatives, hippies, musicians, and the occasional corporate businessman—is not one that needs all that stuff to feel safe. And moreover, in the decades I’ve been going, I’ve never heard of any threat made to anyone at NAMM, not even a drunken “Imma gonna kill you when the floor stops spinning!” or something. So I guess it’s not surprising that security was tighter, and if this is simply “the new normal” for the Anaheim Convention Center these days, it’s a bummer. But if the NAMM organization itself thought it was necessary, I don’t agree, and the security theater was probably the main complaint I heard.
Other than security grumblings, this was a show filled with warm friends and feelings, and I’m glad I attended. I’ll probably be sharing some info on some of the shiny objects that appealed to me on social media for those who are interested, but otherwise, this is my NAMM sign off, and my next convention reports will be pop culture conventions!