Alright, July 5 was the official first day of the festival. I kicked it off by heading over to the New Band Showcase, where I caught The People. This 5‑piece was incredible. The program compared them to the likes of David Bowie and Pulp. They played that bratty, glammy brit-pop that you know and love from groups like Pulp and Rialto. I’ve listened to their CD several times, and can’t believe how good it is. During the show, the lead singer cut his finger on his guitar, but stuck it out, ripping into his guitar during the final songs.
Next, it was over to catch Movies With Heroes. I hadn’t heard anything by these guys, but read plenty of rants about them. We only caught the last few songs of their set, and their closing song blew me away with it’s Pedro The Lion-esque intensity.
One band I was really excited to see was The Violet Burning. They were one of the first Christian bands that really got to me, and I’ve always appreciated their sense of worship. Before the set, they opened with prayer, asking for God’s spirit to come be with us. And He did.
During the show, Nolan told me that another storm was reported to be on the way. Immediately, I began to worry, remembering past Cornerstones. I had this terrible image of tents getting ripped out the ground and being forced to stay in our cars while our belongings were soaked and ruined.
But something happened during the Violet Burning’s set, which was nothing short of a praise and worship session. During their song “As I Am” (one of the most powerful worship songs I’ve ever heard), a great sense of peace came over me and I realized that I needed to stop worrying and fretting, because God was going to handle it all. And He did. The storm turned away from Cornerstone, leaving us with just rain. My only complaint? I left my Bible outside and it got drenched.
Nolan had been raving about The Deadlines and their live show. I had only heard 1 song, and I wasn’t too hip on seeing them, but we headed over the Decapolis stage. I’m glad I did.
Two words sum it all up: “spitting blood.” That, combined with their graveyard sensibility and their lead singer’s shenanigans — which included hanging upside down over the audience — made for the great show.
The next 3 shows were 3 of the best shows I would see at the fest. First up was S.S. Bountyhunter. Nolan had seen them last year and raved about them, and made it his mission to not let me miss it this year. Let me say right now that this was the best show I saw at Cornerstone this year. It may not have been the most spiritual or moving, but in terms of entertainment value, this one reigned supreme.
Where do I begin? Should I start with the lead singer, who moved about on stage in a white leisure suit like he had no joints? Or what about the big Mexican guy who walked around on stage twirling nunchucks. What about the fight that broke out at the end of the show, or when they smashed beer bottles across the guy’s face? Or when they dragged him off stage, grabbed a sword, and then threw a body bag into the crowd at the show’s end.
Suffice to say, I didn’t scream and cheer that much all week, and Nolan lost his voice that night.
After S.S. Bountyhunter, Fine China played a second set (Phaedo had originally been scheduled for the slot). I liked their first set better, but I loved hearing their songs again. Keep your eye on these guys. Their new album (coming out in September) will be one of the best things Tooth & Nail has ever released.
Following Fine China was Starflyer 59. I’ve seen Starflyer several times, and this was the best Starflyer show I’ve ever seen. They tore into their set, playing songs from nearly all of their releases, including a beautiful instrumental. Jason Martin was laying the surf mood on real nice and thick, just the way I like it.
I headed back to my campsite and proceeded to get ready for Havalina Rail Co. I love Havalina’s sets because the crowds always get into them, and you can tell the band loves playing for them. Unfortunately, I was so tired that I nearly fell off my backstage perch 3 times. My body was so rundown that I had to leave early, which really sucked, because Havalina was really tearing it up.
Although the ground was muddy and the air was cold, I collapsed into my cot and got some much-needed sleep.