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Saturday, August 01, 2009


Nozstock Festival 2009

“You can’t do them all mate”. True, but its scant compensation when you are gagging to go somewhere and for various reasons you cant make it. Then I pick up messages from Flapsandwich (he out of Sick Note), offering me a guest pass for Nozstock festival. Grrrrrrrr…. What shall I do? Cant really go for the weekend, for various reasons.. but this is just to generous an offer to turn down. I ring back and explain I can’t do the whole weekend and perhaps it should go to someone who can but am advised that it is no problem, I should come along anyway.

And so it was, that I find myself driving to Hereford on a wet Saturday afternoon for another festival first… STAYING SOBER AND DRIVING HOME!

Sheep Music festival was not sign posted anywhere, but that was not a problem because it was right next to the town of Prestigine. Nozstock is not sign posted, which is a problem cos it is in the middle of nowhere. I eventually find a road that I think takes me in the right direction and come across a sign that says, “WARNING, FESTIVAL TRAFFIC 400 YARDS AHEAD” which leads me to think I am headed in the right direction.

I pull up to the gate and a steward sticks his head in the window of my car. “I am only here for a few hours so could do with parking somewhere it is easy to get out”, I tell him.

He looks thoughtful and then responds, “There is nowhere easy to get out, you will have to drive down there”.

OK, no problem I think, and clunk the old Iguanamobile in gear and put pedal to the metal. Within seconds I see what he meant. I have just landed in the Somme. All I can see is wellies, mud and tractors.

I look to the right and spot a green space where a car has recently left and it is only a few meters from the gate, but try as I might, I cant get to it, me wheels are well and truly stuck in a tractor wheel rut. I have no option but to drive into the belly of the beast. At the bottom of the hill I can see cars being towed INTO the car park. Memories of Workhouse 2007 flash into my mind and I chuckle to myself.

As I drive down into the site I have to stop for tractors pulling people in the other direction. I look around, spot a little space that has ‘Clint Iguana’s Parking Spot’ written all over it and drive straight into the hedge. “Job Done” I think to myself, grab me wellies and head off in search of wristbands.

Nozstock is a 5,000 capacity event just out side Bromyard, near Hereford. It is a family run event on the grounds of a farm. It has eight stages, a comedy tent, cinema, kids area, bars, market and loads of random art. In the middle of it is the organiser’s house, which you can walk through. Quite a few of the stages are dance orientated and the likes of Andy C and the Scratch Perverts are on this weekend, as well as the Saturday headliners the Buzzcocks. Six of the 8 stages are going to be running legally till 5am on Sunday (grrrr and I am driving home!).

As I walk in through the ‘arena’ gate, I almost bump my head on the spotlights of the main stage. It is smack in front of me and does not have much of an area in front of it for the crowd. It is however sloping, amphitheatre style, so everyone has a good view. It slopes a lot. And with all this mud about I have visions of the entire audience ending up on stage at some point. There are a lot of slopes, in fact there aren’t any flat bits on the site at all. Us valley boys are used to it though.

I text Flapsandwich to arrange to meet and head off for a recky. First I head off to the left, past the Garden Stage, down through a little market area on a slope that would have me falling over in the dry, down into a little wooded dingle and into an area with a with a sound system. I find a PA pumping out beats and loads of people, not so much dancing, but stood around nodding and looking as if they have been there at least 24 hours. It reminds me of a scene from the old free parties in woods. I don’t stop long.

I head back up the hill and stop at the bar by the main stage, spotting a familiar face, not one I would expect to find at a gathering like this. His first words are “Don’t tell anyone you saw me at a hippy gathering like this”. Its Dean Beddis, former front man with the Cowboy Killers and Las Vegas Elvis, currently doing stuff as the Ginger Arsonists. I promise not to tell anybody.

I then head down another hill, past a pond with monsters in, past a bronze flying pig and up to the kids area. I find my old mate Julian who, he informs me, has come in his new caravan. The last time (and only time) he towed a caravan was when he towed my caravan, with a car I had only had for three days, to Glastonbury, and did £2000 worth of damage to my car and wrote off my caravan. Now he has bought himself a twenty-five foot double axle beast. He tells me about problems with the electrics and the gas, but I am too busy laughing inside to pay much attention.

I look around the market and text Flapsandwich. Then I decide it is time to find the rest of the gang. I head over to the live in vehicles section and soon find the Risca and Aberdare posse tucking into a huge breakfast/brunch/dinner thing. I sit for an hour or so getting abuse for staying sober and driving before heading off to the arena.

Now then. Sick Note.

Sick note don’t do clever guitar solos, they don’t do beautiful love songs and they don’t do thoughtful folk songs. They do deep down, dirty, primal beats for your feets. They grab you by the innards and shake you. When combined with P&Os Vjing you get sensory overload and are transported to another place. I have seen them in pubs, nightclubs, festivals and even working men’s clubs and there are two essentials that stand out for me. 1) The darker the better, turn the lights down low, big up the VJ screen and crank up the volume. Sick Note will make you feel like a newborn baby, coming out into the world discovering light and sound for the first time. 2) Anyone coming on after Sick Note will look a bit lame in comparison. I have seen some pretty big names (withheld to avoid embarrassment) look silly following Sick Note.

So here we are, early on a summer evening, in broad daylight, on an open-air stage. They rock, they rock big time. Those that have not seen them before will undoubtedly have been blown away, but I can’t help feel sorry for those who are seeing them for the first time and not getting it in full effect, like sex with a condom. Promoters are starting to geth the message though.

I stand for five minutes watching cars being towed off site. I have to say, for a small festival they are pretty sorted, three tractors and about ten lads with wellies on controlling traffic, and pushing people out. I watch, see what works and what doesn’t work, which lines are the best. Then jump in the car, reverse out of the bush, stick her in first and drive straight out. I impress myself, but you can bet next time I have an audience I will mess it up.

Later I realise I have the wrong number for Flapsandwich and have been texting some poor stranger. Sorry for not catching up with you Flappy, will see you next week. And sorry if you have been receiving strange texts about mud, flying pigs and scratching perverts.

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