Like a kid before Christmasmusicians are excited about the music fair (& ProLight&Sound) annually. And as the grown up children we are the people around G Minor and Rest In Fear pilgrimaged to Frankfurt am Main for the second time.
This time by train, criss-cross Austria and Germany. The Musikmesse presented itself just a little like a fun fair on the first glance - all the stands selling curiosities and specialties, food and drink alike, coffee and treats from all over Germany (eg. Weißwurst and tarte flambée from Alsatia)! And hidden somewhere between all those stand lay what everyone was actually here for - music!
All over the groundsinstruments of all kinds are stacked in halls. Finest Bösendorfer Grand Pianos, weird new electronic istrument inventions, technical equipment for light and sound, academies for everything from dance to musicbiz hawking their knowledge to passers-by, software developers presenting their newset products and many more can be found everywhere. In every corner instruments of all kinds get tested to the bone, musicians and such who think they are worming the weirdest sounds out of conventional to exotic instruments - with differing talent. Outstandingly funny and even for our master bagpiper Roman hardly to be taken seriously: The woodwind ensemble made up of approximately hundreds of people blowing into their respective victims in at least 12 different keys - but all at the same time.
Even the amazingly large fair groundsfeel crammed with all the salesmen from almost every part of the world and the incredible number of booths placed in every corner. Inbetween waves of people are rolling through the loops, interested in almost anything put on display and even before the opening to the public the fair is crammed with people from the music industry - like a beehive.
At every cornercompanies battle for the attention of passers-by. Products and innovations need to be sold to reliable future clients and interesting new business partners and acquaintances don't make themselves. In the end the goal is to convince the interested audience of their products' quality and extraordinaryness after all. The bandwith of companies is enourmous - small italian cabinet craftsmen, chinese large-scale fabricants and of course all the known brands put their wares on display. And all of them court for the visitor's attention in their own way.
As did the Gibson Brandscelebrating their 120th anniversary: They sponsored an enourmous stage resembling a circus tent featuring interesting artists such as Xander & The Peace Pirates who played a couple shows a day and well known faces playing their respective Gibson Brand instruments - such as the humorous "Annihilator" Gitarrist Jeff Waters who rocked the stage with his "ANNIHILATION V von Epiphone" playing a few tunes by his canadian band to what unfortunately sounded like sheet metal playback buddies.
The entire stage was not justwhat it pretended to be though. The actual purpose of the impressive building was not clearly obvious unless you entered the 12m high tent: The 16m diameter wooden planked couldron is actually Germany's oldest motodrome dating back to 1928 and beneath the canvas roof daring motorbikers would outmanouver gravity and other trivialities, thereby proving a very old rock'n'roll cliché true: Guitars and motorbikes DO fit together quite well!
A few times per daythe daredevils and the currently only female German gravity slope driver, all of them too cool for their helmets hopped onto their bikes and went horizontal and drove up to 6m hight where the astonished audience could feel the rush of adrenaline and burned fuel. Standing, free-handedly and side-saddle, both feet across the handle-bar and even with four people at the same time they went crazy in the cauldron. Not entirely undeserved their performance ends in a rain of gold - no insurance company in the world would be willing to effect insurance for them...
Apart from spectacles like thisother companies impressed by showcasing their actual product palette in exciting displays of quality performance; Noteworthy is e.g. the PRG / LEA laser- and light show with over 130 moving heads, live fire and water sprinklers and the mandatory rain of confetti at the end. Not new, but definitely a highlight at the music fair 2014.
Another Highlightwere the many friendly faces that we met again. Like the friendly chief of operations at "Orion Cymbals'" booth in the drum hall Paulinho from Brasil, or the German trader "Drum-tec" offering interesting E-Drum set even in real drum shell-look. Exciting experiences in trying (yes, actually trying!) newly made instruments by e.g. the German companies "Sandberg Guitars" or (more like: looking at their custom ware...) "Ritter Instruments" ) have only been surpassed by meeting very new and even more custom crafstmen and smaller companies like the italian "Clarenzio Amplificatori" who in a very short time convinced us with their handmade cabinets which, even though they were mono-only could score with surprising stopping power and a very clear sound - and not less with their beautiful lign management and design in carefully crafted rust-look.
Apart from the instrumental collection we made it to one or the other more or less exciting public lecture on the music business, including a panel on "self-determination of the artist in the music business" with René Baumann, aka DJ Bobo from Switzerland and visited the small consortium of booths that didn't actually present anything and taking credit only for their free drinks and snacks (Conrad).
ConclusionThe second biggest music fair in the world is impressive. When the professional world meets discussions get started, talents are showcased and most importantly: Business connections are made, networks established and extended.
Besides the spectacular presentations of innovations and new products the fair focuses on instruments (and with ProLight&Sound) a lot on technical equipment in top of the notch quality from singer/songwriter up to stadium-sized events. The bandwidth is overwhelming and after three days of browsing through the jungle of wares in the ever-rummaging porridge of sound you're likely to find your head smoking. In the end a lot of good memories and experiences and a lot of great contacts to many corners in the world remain from the fair.
A big thanks to all the nice people and the amazing inspiring talks we had!