Flaming Lips, live at Green Man. Taken by "CZMJ", licensed under Creative Commons.

I’ve just returned from Green Man Festival. I loved it. I’ve had the opportunity to go several times in the past, but somehow fate has always conspired to stop me. And once I wimped out simply because the weather looked as bad as it was shaping up to be this weekend.

As it happened, I found myself driving off-site on Sunday afternoon with a heavy heart and slight case of sunburn. I tuned into Green Man radio as I drove away and wished I could have stayed another night. The signal from the site held on bravely until the outskirts of Abergavenny when it disappeared into a haze of white noise. I genuinely felt quite sad.

Pete Lawrence, founder of The Big Chill and credited by many as the daddy of the modern “boutique” festival, recently wrote about how festivals are losing their heart and soul. Not Green Man. I was instantly bewitched by its mountainous backdrop, eclectic music policy, and friendly crowd. It felt very much like the early events that Pete used to organise, but on a grander scale. I was told that the capacity was between 10 and 15,000 people. Despite it being clear that there were a lot of people there, it “felt” a lot more intimate.

Highlights included John Grant (I’m a new fan – what a voice), F**k Buttons (brilliant), Race Horses (is it me, or are they all about 12 years old!?) and Flaming Lips (now that’s how you do a live show!). But mainly it was just fantastic just ambling around the beautiful site, bumping into the many friends who’d come up from Cardiff and the rest of the UK.

It got me excited about festivals again, and how they could bolster your faith in the human spirit. And on that note, I’m even more excited about Festinho this weekend, and my company’s involvement in it! A little less mud than there was at Green Man, and I’ll be happy….

Oh, and I gave a short talk in the Einstein Gardens while I was there. I promised a few people I’d upload the presentation so they could check out some of the links in it. I’ll add the script/notes when I get a spare minute. Without them many of the slides will make no sense…!

[slideshare id=5044603&doc=simplify-neilcocker-100824051705-phpapp02]

Also, last week I received an intriguing package (including a stick of rock) from Sam Pointon. He’s seven years old and, as he explains in this BBC News article, the Director Of Fun at the National Railway Museum. They start them early these days. Behind the “stunt” was London agency Nonsense who were also behind the 24 Hour Startup I wrote about a while back. Clearly they were hoping that I would write about it, thus gaining them some small coverage in the “Twitter/blogosphere”, and in that respect it’s worked. I think it could be an example of marketing agencies returning to using real-life “things” for promotions. I know first hand that a million views on Youtube, for example, doesn’t necessarily equate to any actual income. It’s useful to be able to go to the press and say “hey, we’ve had a bazillion tweets and 14 trazillion myspace plays, but that still doesn’t mean anyone’s going to buy your record.

So I predict we’ll see a move away from purely digital marketing activities (I’m sure it’s already happening anyway!). I’m sure someone will find the perfect mix of the physical and the digital.