Havalina defines Cornerstone for me, since I have seen them all 5 years I’ve been to the fest. However, they usually play at midnight. They did 2 sets this year, one at midnight, and one on Tooth And Nail Dail they played at 10 a.m. It was too early for them and I believe it was too early for the soundman. Havalina was plagued with rather inferior sound during the show, but made up for it with incredible energy. They played a few songs off of their new EP, A Bullfighters Guide to Space and Love. The songs “Space and Mexico” (which he sings in Spanish) and “Worst Days” sound like old cowboy songs and are lushed with Mercy’s gorgeous back up vocals.
The set contained Matt Wignall’s usual humor, which helped ease the little tension caused by the sound. Orlando, the bass player, put on an incredible show by himself, thrashing around with his bass while playing incredible riffs. He didn’t break out the stand-up bass this morning, but he did for the midnight show. Of course, they ended the set with “Twilight Time” and the crowd became just as energetic. More on Havalina later in the review.
The festival literally began with a bang as lightning hit just outside of the Encore 1 tent during the Blamed’s set. The power went off momentarily and then continued through the set. I give credit to the Blamed, who tried playing through it, but the electricity was not cooperative. I’m sure I wouldn’t stand up there with an electric guitar as lightning shot down. Needless to say, the set was cut short. It was a great rock n’ roll show.
Dressed in Guess jeans and jean jackets with gorgeous hair, these guys challenge the Violet Burning as the most attractive band at the festival. Supporting the incredible When The World Sings, a majority of the set was from the album. “Labor Saving Device” was the ultimate singalong as I looked around and saw everyone’s lips moving. Fine China’s songs are so catchy, you can’t help but sing. They played a few new tracks, which are just as good as anything off of the current album. The band ironically ended with a much “heavier” version of “We Rock Harder than You Ever Knew.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear the keys as well as previous shows. I really believe the keys are what give Fine China the finishing touch to their brilliant pop songs. Again, the show was energetic and it seemed everyone knew the words (not just the band).
I had never seen Embodyment before, but I was incredibly blown away by their sound. Brutal at times, but melodic at others. The vocals gave them such a unique sound. I’ve never heard such singing over hardcore, which led to another singalong. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the words. On a humorous note, Sean Corbray came out wearing a confederate flag bandanna. I was actually backstage doing press stuff, so I was able to observe the band as well as the crowd. It was intense to say the least. As Wesley Willis might say, “the crowd roared like a lion.”
There isn’t much hip-hop at the festival during any year, but this year saw a definite increase. I was fortunate enough to check out Mars Ill, who never seemed to take a breath while dropping the dope linguistics. The rhymes were clever, but shot out so fast you barely had time to comprehend them. Some may say that rapping is not a talent, but this guy will make you double, then triple-check that statement. The crowd wasn’t as large as your typical hardcore show, but those that were there were into it as if it were. Ill Harmonics joined the crew on stage and added a more Beastie Boys feel. It was a refreshing moment at the festival.
If you think the name is unique, you should see the show. No, they’re not on Tooth and Nail and definitely don’t fit the mold. They were one of the few bands that played on the Cornerstone Magazine tent, away from the Encore tents. A group of at least 15, doing everything from singing bowls to Tibetan throat singing, blew me away and sent the crowd into a spiritual dance. An eerie tribal sound with spoken word populated with various percussion mesmerized those watching and did something inside of them. The set was pretty lengthy and at one point a large caterpillar made of humans danced it’s way inside the tent. There was also a five-year-old boy playing the didjeridoo. The things you see at this festival are amazing. The set was just as amazing and felt like a tribal worship. It’s one of those shows that words do no justice for.
I can sum the show up in one word, brutal. A dark tent full of thundering hardcore and haunting screams sending kids into frenzies was almost too aggressive for a softy like me. Circles opened up everywhere as kids got a bit too insane with roundhouse kicks and a healthy number of punches being thrown. There was probably more energy at this show than the rest could surmount together. I was somewhat disappointed to find out later that the only original member of the band was the drummer. It kind of reminded me of Ratt when they showed up to Lincoln with only one remaining member. How about a new name?
Sleeved in tattoos with huge hair, I felt as if I was watching a group made up of Nikki Sixx clones. I was somewhat disappointed in the punk rock sound, which differs from the glam rock found on Bombs Over Broadway. The hessian in me wanted the glam to come out, but instead the punk rock came out. However, I liked that they played the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” as well as Generation X and Clash covers. They did contain the appearance of a metal band, as they spat water in the air and performed typical metal moves, but the roots of punk rock were prevalent.
Always an incredible show, Joy E played their first show of the festival at 11:30pm, which fit perfectly with the new material they played. Songs such as “We Are Rock” showed the evolution of Joy Electric moving into a much darker rhelm. Of course, they played the hits like “Monosynth,” “Drum Machine Joy,” and “Sugar Rush,” but it was the future hits that struck a spark with me. The songs no longer resemble the pop-filled albums of Robot Rock and Christiansongs, but bring an eerier feel that somewhat resembles We Are the Music Makers.
The songs also seem to have a more sober and serious feel. Ronnie announced that the new album would be released August 29th. I’ll mark my calendar. He also announced that he’s “heard all of the Nintendo jokes, but look who’s up here.” I found it more humorous than snotty. Ronnie seems very sarcastic on stage as he tells us to sing because he doesn’t know if he can sing “Sugar Rush” much longer. The attitude fits the music in an Oasis sense. There will be more on Joy Electric when I review the daytime show.
This is what would happen if Up With People went electronic. I tried to turn away, but the dancer dressed like Punky Brewster kept my attention like a horrifying car crash. I felt like I was watching a Simpsons episode. Pure stereotypical Christian pop.
Read more about Cornerstone 2001.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.