Frogstock: The Movie   Leave a comment

Well, I turned down two other gigs in favour of playing at Frogstock, and although I’ve returned home more than a hundred pounds in debt, and with a cracked rib, and even less robust than usual in physical and psychological terms shapewise (see, I’m babbling nonsense already) I still think I made the right decision. Why is this? Let’s do a list:

The sun shone.
That bit of Norfolk is fucking pretty.
The farm is a nice little bit of real estate.
All the Norfolk types I met seem to be really polite and friendly, even when pestering you endlessly (when yr trying to DJ) for drum & bass.
They had kegs of beer (proper real ale – everyone seemed to think it was homebrew, but it weren’t) at 50p a pint (which made a mockery of the 8 cans of Grolsch I’d lugged all the way there, almost missing my train to buy.
The organisers (Frog and his crew) are as nice a bunch of lads as you could hope to meet.
The sound people (who were doing it for free, with a great PA) were both likeable and skilled also.
I was embarrassingly well received.

I’m not going to turn this into an epic. I’ll just give you the key moments.

I did the tree thing but it wasn’t that special. I’d envisaged some stunted and weird old bushy tree that looked as though it might burst into flames at any given moment, and I’d hoped it would be sufficiently out of the way for me to be able to startle a few mushroomheads as they stumbled past. As it was however, the only suitable tree that they could get power to was situated behind and to the left of the main stage. It was also resplendent with lush green leaves. This meant that we have some footage of me hanging off branches within the gloomy interior of the foliage, which looks a bit forced and shit, and some, where Donna stands back to get some perspective, of a singing-Um-tree, which looks ridiculous. Ultimately, it didn’t really work. Nevertheless a small band of curious onlookers formed and some of them seemed to think it was reasonably marvellous. I did this tree gig at about 4 or 5PM, but I had another set on the proper stage at 9, and in between Simon and I played DAS EXPERIMENTALFUNKMUZIK in a sort of DISCO GAZEBO which we had erected, and everybody ignored us utterly, which was fair enough. I also got to meet the artist and drinker (he was on G&Ts, with ice, which looked just the ticket in the baking rural heat) Mark Quinn, who had made a special Um T-Shirt for me. I would have put it on but I was concerned that someone might take me for a cunt. In the meantime lots of local type bands played, and because I have a sort of fetish for amateurishness and a horror of the slick I developed a nice warm glow inside that felt as though it might translate later on into some kind of cocky set, which it did. The Gimps, of London, also played. They were all about a MC5 kind of tip, or maybe something looser and dirtier. Great stuff, but it seemed a bit transplanted under the glorious sunshine and in front of the Norfolk teens. More about The Gimps later.

Then eventually I get up and do the aforementioned cocky set. It doesn’t look anything special on the DV tape but sometimes THE ZONE cannot be caught on camera. At one point some local character, reputedly a legend in Frogstock terms, who seemed remarkably unconcerned about the missing plot in the drama that was his life, clambered unsteadily onto the stage to try and tell us all about the Masons and the Knights Templar. He was placid enough but had to be physically persuaded to get of the stage, whereupon he fell over. Things like this never get in the way of an Um performance because, of course, it’s all grist. Anyway, it went well, I was a cocky cock and, as done happen once in a while, they fucking loved it. The minute I got off I was surrounded by a mob seeking Um product. At the front of the mob was an excitable girl with a bottle of Pimms who wanted to know how old I was, what my real name was, and how come I was such a bloody brilliant artist. The rest of the mob was behind her clutching five and ten pound notes. I should have told her that I was 26, that my real name was Bobby Jesus, and that I had sold my soul to the devil in exchange for a minidisk player, or at least just savoured the moment, but instead I mumbled out the facts and was almost overwhelmed with the pure embarrassingness of it all. In addition:

I had my photo taken (with Pimms-girl).
I got my wallet snared up in my back pocket and so was obliged to talk to people over my shoulder and conduct financial transactions in the dark without any money whilst fielding queries and tributes from Miss Pimms. Later she emails me to tell me that her name is Sarah (Sarah Pimms?)
A bloke told me that his girlfriend had announced during my set that she wanted to marry me (to which I made some random remark about “not ruling anything out” which only served to increase the awkwardness).
Someone offered to buy my hat.
Someone bought several copies of Um single (duplicates to use as presents).
For the rest of the day I couldn’t walk across the field without someone shouting “Um!” or, in the case of Sarah Pimms, my real name.

Then Simon, Donna and I ate biscuits in the DISCO GAZEBO, felt cold and monged, and were asked by innumerable people for drum and bass. Many people also offered to get behind the decks and play drum and bass for us if we didn’t have any. It got to the stage where I was able to point out a young lad approaching the gazebo from about thirty yards away and predict with 100% accuracy that he would speak to us and ask the following question:

“Have you got any drum and bass, mate?”

The funny thing about your Norfolk drum and basshead is that they display a friendly reasonableness that is almost disquieting. No sooner had you apologetically informed them that you were unable to oblige them with their fix of the only possible style of music that would make them dance, namely the most ruffneck of d&b, and fully expecting them to spit on your slipmats and cuss out your Mum, than they would put their hand on your shoulder and say something like: (and it’s a good job I’m typing here because my Norfolk accent wavers between Somerset and Sri Lanka) “No worries mate, but if you don’t ask you don’t get, see?”

I dunno. I just noticed a lot of strange friendliness going about, and it startled me. The next day at Thetford station a group of teenage ne’er-do-wells who had been up all night on chemical drugs engaged an elderly couple in an interaction that started as a pisstake, but quickly turned into a mutual banter session, and before long the old boy was telling the cheeky imps stories about the difficulties involved in holding onto your tobacco during rationing. He advised the substitution of manure, but only in the portion smoked by your blagging mates. Anyway when I’ve suffered comedowns, historically speaking, I can’t even talk to my friends or even look at myself in the mirror, let alone seek out social intercourse with pensioners. On the same note I also witnessed an exchange between a punter, similarly drug-raddled, at Pete’s Munchies burger van, and Pete himself on the Frogstock site. The young guy was doing that thing where the only part of your brain that is still awake is the bit that is chewing its way through the last of the Ecstasy, and it shows clearly on your face, because your eyes are completely fucked. Despite this (and making no effort to disguise it – in fact he kept remarking in oblique terms how utterly buggered he was) he was able to join in with an extremely amusing mutual pisstake banter session with old Pete, who must have been at least sixty. As he struggled to extract a consumer choice out of Pete’s various breakfast bill of fare (innumerable combinations of animal products in baps) Pete, a man who evidently didn’t mind serving people as long as they didn’t expect him to act like their servant, with a strange mixture of irritation and endless patience, or even a sor
t of agreeable contempt, suggested that he might enjoy an all day breakfast. “I might do”, replied the young man, “only I’m not sure I’ve got all day.”

More soon; when I’ll tell you about the cracked rib. I didn’t fall drunkenly out of the tree, so how did I do it?

Posted September 1, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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