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While the videos download why not read this diary of Frogstock by UM...
Um performed up a tree at Frogstock 2004, read more about him on www.umbusiness.co.uk
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:
I’m not going to turn this into an epic. I’ll
just give you the key moments.
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.
“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 sort 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.”
So yeah, Simon and I are there playing the wrong records
way into the night, and I start to wonder whether we’re just prolonging
the organisational responsibility nightmare for Frog and the boys, who
presumably wouldn’t mind a bit of kip when everyone’s fucked
off off their land. Turns out I’m wrong because the Frogmeister
himself turns up soon enough, pissed off his complete nut (and he appeared
to be one of those people whose latent poshness is exacerbated by alcohol,
because he was ever so terribly polite) and he actually wants us to keep
playing to keep his punters happy, drum ‘n’ bass or no drum
‘n’ bass. Charmlessly, we refuse, because we’re all
horrendously old cunts and we have to look after kiddies in the hideous
morning, so we mosey back to our tents for some shuteye. That’s
the plan anyway.
The next thing I know some fucking idiot has fallen on me, and then scarpered off quickly and silently into the darkness, probably slightly alarmed to be addressed as: “You…fucking… idiot!” They’d managed to land on my clenched fist, which was resting against my chest, and my thumb knuckle had been jammed hard against one of my ribs. It was pretty painful, almost as though I’d cracked a rib or something. From then on I managed only fitful sleep, as lying on the cold ground with chest injuries can be uncomfortable, and plus some other idiot (same idiot being really idiotic?) not only crashed into my tent yet again, but also took the time and the trouble, once I’d raised my confused head aloft to try and actively repel boarders, to reach down with their hand and feel the shape of my skull. “Oi!” I cried, in exasperation, but they didn’t seem to feel the need to explain themselves, or apologise.
Thereafter I lay awake listening to people a lot younger than I am having a lot more fun than I was. It’s not as though I expected teenage Norfolk to pipe down just because I was lying there with a chest injury, but you’d have thought that the youth of today would have a better way of pissing me off than playing Take That’s Back For Good on an acoustic, with feeling. Well, maybe not.
Eventually it got light, and although I felt like the living shit of death, I couldn’t take any more of the feeling that I was about to have the sky fall on my head (for it did appear that drunken teens were somehow evaporating and then condensing just above me all night), and I crawled out gingerly onto the wet grass. At this point I saw that someone had sprayed BBQ sauce (presumably half-inched from Pete’s Munchies) all over my tent. I have to admit that this did seem a bit much. In fact I wanted to leave the site immediately, because my eyes were all stuck together and I could tell that my face must have looked a greasy piece of veal, and I didn’t want to think about what would happen in terms of my expression if some kid yelled “Um!” at me and did a thumbs-up. I also had to get a large and heavy amount of records and general audio-visual equipment, plus sleeping bags and carrymats and totally fucked tents covered in BBQ sauce (I did think about leaving the fucker there) to get from Blo Norton to Thetford and I didn’t have any transport. Luckily, one of The Gimps, after one of Simon’s horrendously mind-scrambling herbal wake ‘n’ bakes, which made me paranoid just by looking at other people smoking it, was up for giving me a lift. I would have been grateful but I was feeling like a dog who’d been kicked too much, the word was that Gimps Matey drove like a maniac, and I’m the worst passenger in the world because I have a phobia about death. Fortunately Driver Gimp was excessively done-in by the grass and drove in the manner of my father, which was conservatively. They were also tremendously likeable and amusing people, and very similar to one another in a soft-spoken-London-geezer-ain’t-life-funny-innit sort of way, which made them seem even funnier. A protracted discussion about what tape to play, in which Female Friend Of The Gimps drew attention several times to her powers of veto where the Byrds option was concerned, and a challenging Fall Live tape was deemed unsuitable in the circumstances, eventually managed to make me smile, even if I remained entirely silent on the matter, and indeed throughout the journey. It didn’t matter though, because they knew what they were on about. I was still pleased to be dropped off in Thetford, however, even if there wasn’t another train for an hour and forty minutes.
And that’s about it really, apart from the next day I went to A&E and, after asking me whether it was more painful during inspiration etc they said I’d probably cracked the rib (they can’t tell by X-ray because cracks don’t show up) and it would take six weeks to heal. At this point my life kind of fell apart a bit because Sam really needed her tent to be able to work at festivals etc, and I really needed to be fit and well to look after Syd solo-style because, like Norfolk teenagers, he tends to jump on me a lot. I was also meant to be going on a short family holiday in Cornwall, which necessarily entailed a lot of hiking and smoking and drinking etc. I was also looking at quite a bit more tent action whilst visiting Sam at various festivals and blah and I was skint because I couldn’t lift vegetables and therefore couldn’t buy replacement tents and blah and blah and blah, etc.
Read more on www.umbusiness.co.uk