Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NAMM 2011 coverage: Saturday

My report originally appeared on and can be viewed on the paper's Soundcheck blog.

Several special and invite only concerts were held Friday evening in conjunction with NAMM. Among the most buzzed about was one Dean Guitars sponsored at the Grove of Anaheim. It featured Megadeth. The company unveiled two new bass series models (“The Spider” and “Hybrid”) inspired by late Who musician John Entwistle.

Yet all the late night partying didn’t deter thousands of NAMM attendees from getting to the Anaheim Convention Center early Saturday morning. Some could be heard complaining about the tighter security measures, reportedly due to past registration badge counterfeiting (entering the convention floor or a trip upstairs to check out a vendor suite required ID, plus badge scanning; that led to many delays as staffers squinted to see the tiny print on foreigners’ passports).

Saturday tends to be the busiest day at NAMM. Artist appearances, performances and signings all multiply and it often takes a good chunk of time just to get down an aisle – especially when people stop and gawk after seeing a popular musician in the flesh. A local school marching band parading through the exhibitor halls also added to the chaos.

Alan Parsons - known for his production/engineering work on The Beatles’ “Let It Be” and “Abbey Road,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and others, plus own his successful group the Alan Parsons Project – was seen discussing his new three-DVD educational series, “The Art and Science of Sound Recording” at the Key Fax New Media booth. Narrated by Billy Bob Thornton, it includes more than 10 hours of material and new Parsons track “All Our Yesterdays.”

During the afternoon, the Taylor Guitars hosted 10 Years. Minus the usual sonic onslaught, the Tennessee alt-metal group’s acoustic set really brought leader Jesse Hasek’s anguished and disturbing lyrics to the forefront. Key examples: the refrain “you can’t kill me that easily” on “Russian Roulette” and “R.E.S.T.,” a tale of rape from 2004’s “Killing All That Holds You.” “The Wicked Ones” was very intense and rock radio hit “So Long, Goodbye” found guitarist Ryan Johnson playing a haunting melody, while Hasek sang with his eyes closed.

Later, Abused Romance (pictured, above) had the unenviable task of performing to an apathetic audience over on the large ACC outdoor patio stage. Still, the Israeli-bred, LA-based heavy rock band gave their all and totally blasted the space with thunderous songs from debut EP “The Sound of Violence” (currently receiving mainstream and alternative radio airplay in SoCal, it is available from digital retailers Tuesday). Far more aggressive live than on the EP, both singer/guitarist Meir Yaniv and bassist Aetam Jakob shook their long hair in unison to the power chords and lead guitarist Amit Ofir continually rattled off monster riffs. “The Sound of Violence,” a more melodic tune, was the definite highlight here.

Photo courtesy of MSO PR and Freeway Entertainment

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