Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
By Trae Cadenhead
Photos by Steve White
For the third year in a row, I have made the trek from Memphis, Tennessee to Bushnell, Illinois for Cornerstone Festival. The ride up with Andrew and Shirley was pleasant enough and aside from a slight mix up in St. Louis, we arrived without a problem.
We made it to the grounds barely after midnight, technically on Thursday, July 1. We learned quickly that pitching a tent in the dark without instructions is no easy task. After a lot of experimentation (we reasoned that tents must be like Legos. The parts are designed to make a certain thing but could be used in other ways to create something equally useful) and laughter, we finally got it to stand up in a mostly sturdy manner and crashed for the night.
Thursday, July 1
Judging by the bright sun shining through the tent, it seemed like 10:00 when I woke up. Actually it was 7:30. After looking at my watch I tried to fall back asleep, but the sun bearing down down on the tent resulted in an intolerable level of heat. So slightly begrudgingly, I got up.
We took a morning trip to the Bushnell IGA to stock up on food. A man in the grocery store asked if we were "stoners." Thanks to some quick thinking, we realized he meant Cornerstoners. Later Andrew said he probably did look a bit stoned thanks to lack of sleep the night before. We finished up in town and made it back to the festival just in time for the start of Tooth & Nail day.
Andrew and Shirley are into hardcore music so they'll probably find more to enjoy today than I will. While they settled into the first show, I wandered off to see who was in the merch tent so far. I got to meet Ryan O'Neal from Sleeping at Last who I'll be interviewing later in the week. I'm anticipating their show as one of the best of the festival. Aside from Lovedrug's table, I didn't really see any bands of interest set up yet. It's still early in the festival, though.
I made sure to show up for the RMC BBQ in the press tent, a good opportunity to meet people whose names I normally only see online. It was cool to meet people who I've never seen in my life who tell me they read my stuff on Loconotion.net and the Phantom Tollbooth. A lot of times I forget the reach that writing gives me, so this was a nice reminder. I got to meet J. Robert Parks (film critic and professor at Columbia College in Chicago) again and in turn he took me to meet Mike Hertenstein, the director of the Flickerings film program and Bevin Klassen, a filmmaker from Winnipeg who helps to run the Flickerings events and the leader of the 8-hour Film School program at Cornerstone. With pride they showed off an old car they "crashed" for the purpose of filming a scene from "The Apostle" for the 8-hours Film School. It was a nice reminder to never leave your car at Cornerstone after the festival. It was great talking with J. Robert Parks about film. I'm looking forward to his seminar that starts tomorrow. Also I met Joe Kirk from Paste Magazine who is helping to run the Gallery Stage this year. Kirk was very excited about the All Things Bright and Beautiful concert tomorrow, a band he worked very hard to get to come.
My first music of the day came with the band Holland who were on the schedule as The Lonely Hearts. The lead singer brought out a marker board to draw a diagram explaining the name changes. Holland is still Holland (despite a lawsuit over the name), but they have a side project called The Lonely Hearts. This afternoon they played as Holland. Much along the same lines as Bleach musically, they appealed to many high schoolers who had gathered. The majority of the show was decent. They played a couple of new songs that were definitely better than their first album. It will be interesting to see how Holland comes along in the future.
I stuck around at the same stage to see Slow Coming Day for lack of better plans. They were okay. It was a radio-friendly brand of poppy emo. I didn't necessarily enjoy it, but some of the kids seemed to.
I snuck out a bit early to catch Madison Greene. They were playing a set of West African Rhythms. Something totally out of the ordinary, it was fun but the crowded tent made cool air short in supply.
On the way back to camp I stopped by to see a little bit of Mercury Radio Theater. They play a strange brand of surf music that might appeal to fans of The White Stripes. The lead singer enjoyed making fun of the audience in between songs. It was fun for a bit, but the novelty wore off before too long.
As I was headed back to the tent, I was surprised to run into my old friend John from when I lived in Arkansas about five years ago. It turns out that he's camping about 100 feet away from me and Matt, another of my old friends is camped with him. As the Disney ride sings, "It's a small world after all."
After a little food from a can, I took off to see the first film of the Flickerings Film Festival. The Finnish drama / comedy The Man Without a Past revolved around a man with amnesia who is befriended by people in the poor side of town. The film did a great job of displaying grace in a powerful way. The humor was very natural (much like Wes Anderson's films). Following the screening there was an interesting discussion covering everything from the spirituality of the film to the humor to the lighting. One thing is for sure: this year's Flickerings is off to a great start.
Just as I got out of the screening, I had time to catch a couple songs from Infradig, a unique instrumental funk / jam band. From what little I saw, they were very good.
Just for old times sake I traveled to Main Stage to see Switchfoot. As a band, they're pretty tight and exciting these days. My gripe is that they only played songs from The Beautiful Letdown (their only release so far in the secular marketplace). This was unfortunate since the band's earlier work is arguably their most creative. Switchfoot played virtually the entire The Beautiful Letdown CD before closing for the night. In a mini-encore Jon Foreman came out with an acoustic guitar and played a Bob Dylan cover, which I found to be the highlight of the Switchfoot set.
The midnight show for Thursday
was Me Without You. As always, singer Aaron Weiss was crazy (sometimes
a detriment to the song at hand, but entertaining nonetheless). The band
played many songs due out on a new CD in September. The new songs were
mostly good, but didn't seem to contain the same level of energy as the
band's first release A->B Life. Only four songs from the hour-long
set came from A->B Life, but when they did come the crowd went wild.
Overall, it was a good show, though I wish the band had played more songs
from the CD.