This weekend, Birmingham NEC plays host to Music Live. The huge music-making show is open to the public and features numerous star performances and a drool-worthy array of the sexiest guitar, drum and hi-tech gear.
Friday is traditionally Education Day, and we went along amidst the crowds of school trips to see what the show's all about. And here are seven reasons why Music Live rocks...
1. You can watch live music at 11am
It must be odd for the bands concerned to rock out at a time when they'd usually still be comatose on the tour bus, but rock out they most certainly did with Friday's highlights including Riot:Noise and Mexicolas.
2. You can grab yourself a bargain
It's usual to see many punters leaving the show with a suspiciously guitar-shaped cardboard box tucked under one arm. With some of the great deals on offer from retailers at the show it's easy to see why.
3. You can listen to people shredding for hours
Show music is a genre in itself, and slap bass and copious amounts of widdling are de rigeur. We've no idea who the man in the silly mask was wailing away on the Music Man stand, but the crowd of people watching him seemed to be enjoying it.
4. You can meet your heroes and get them to sign stuff
The biggest star in the building on Friday was probably Megadeth's Dave Mustaine. Never let it be said that Megadeth have an ageing fanbase, but we did see him sign somebody's walking stick.
5. You can watch people drumming away in silence
Someone once said that rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution. That said, thank goodness for electronic drum kits, which allow drum tutorials to take place in relative silence. Interested parties can pop a pair of headphones on, everyone else comes away with their hearing intact.
6. You can try out that guitar that you lust after
Music Live is a bit like being in a giant music shop. Helpfully, the Gibson stand had an array of PODs for people to use to play a wallet-bothering line-up of Les Pauls, ES-335s and SGs.
7. You can get up and play too
It's not just about the star turns. Thanks to several open mic stages, if you are feeling confident then there's nothing to stop you getting up and performing. You might even win a prize.
If you're in the vicinity and don't fancy being dragged around the supermarket tomorrow, why not pop along to Music Live at the NEC. There's plenty going on...