Alex Matthews

Animals As Leaders @ NAMM Yamaha Stage – 01/16/2020

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On Thursday evening January 16th, 2020 Yamaha presented The NAMM Foundation Celebration for Music Education, a fantastic concert in the courtyard of the Anaheim Convention Center featuring progressive instrumental band Animals As Leaders. Featuring Tosin Abasi (guitar), Javier Reyes (guitar) and Matt Garstka (drums), the band is a tour de force of instrumental talent and blends a ton of musical genres like metal, progressive rock, jazz, alternative, and even world music. Due to illness, the originally slated artist Sarah Mclachlan was unable to perform at NAMM this year, but the huge crowd that gathered for this concert did not seem to mind one bit.  

It is certainly a rare sight to see a circle mosh pit form at a NAMM convention performance! And this show by Animals as Leaders was truly one for the record books. At one point early in the set, Tobin Abassi, seemingly impressed with the large number of musicians in the crowd, spoke to the large audience telling them that the band had “no right to be at this show.” However the crowd definitely disagreed and showed the band nothing but enthusiastic love the whole evening. In truth, Abassi and his band’s virtuosic playing was a perfect match for the crowd of music industry professionals ready for a party after a long day on the NAMM show floor. Everyone in attendance seemed to love the technical playing and intensely powerful music on display.

The band played a short but powerful setlist featuring cuts from their studio albums Animals As LeadersThe Joy of Motion, and their most recent 2016 release The Madness of Many. Abassi was seen playing a beautiful yellow/green 8 string guitar from his own guitar company that was also exhibiting at this year’s NAMM show. The concert was a great start to the NAMM convention and the band did an admirable job of filling in and making the night their own.


Tempting Time – Ka$cade – Tooth and Claw – Ectogenesis – The Woven Web – Arithmophobia – Cognitive Contortions – The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing / Behaving Badly – Physical Education – Inner Assassins – CAFO

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