On a small side stage along the dusty festival roads stood 2 hardcore rockers in a water-drinking contest. The first to drink an entire gallon would be declared the toughest. It was inevitable, so the trashcans were brought out in order to catch the watery vomit spewed by the two studs. This was the opening act of the much smaller performance Luxury put on.
It’s difficult to fit five guys with guitars and a drum set on a stage the size of a car top, but Luxury was determined to do so. You could say that Luxury was in their niche when they played for about 30 kids and a field of tents. I felt this show was much better than the one they played the day before on the Encore stage. They played more of their older material and it was a much more personal show.
I spent most of it trying to get the vomiting images out of my mind, however. They didn’t play any Adam Ant covers as they did the day before, but the set was blessed with cooler temperatures and a cozy feel.
Their album is incredible, but their live shows are really next to pitiful. I really wasn’t too impressed with the show, but I’m glad to know they can play some great songs. There are many bands out there with extreme studio ability, but not a live show to back the album up. Unfortunately, Soul Junk is one of them.
The Elevator Division
Not only are they super cool guys, this band thoroughly impressed me at the festival. They opened up for Ester Drang in K.C. and I saw them here in Lincoln, but they were extremely tight at the festival. Their sound at the show reminded me a bit of early Police, with angular guitar riffs over clever basslines and lush vocals. Saturday was by far the hottest, most humid day of the festival. The drummer actually told me he was near blacking out during the end of the set, as the heat took its toll. I never would have known. The sound was actually agreeable during their set, which was fortunate since the New Band Stage was plagued with bad sound for the first few days.
I remember last year the keyboardist beating his head with closed fists as the singer roared and threw himself off the drum set onto the stage. This year was just as intense. I only caught the last couple songs, but they were as aggressive as a year ago. I sneaked on stage in order to watch the crowd, which was just as aggressive. It was almost as if one was trying to outdo the other (crowd vs. band).
I’ve always loved each album put out by the ever-so-talented Starflyer, but let’s face it, the live shows are usually sub-par. However, last year’s surf set was by far the best show I’ve ever seen them play. The live show has turned around ever since. Adding keys to the live show this year helped that effort. Adding another guitarist may be the second step in creating a better live sound. This year, SF59 further displayed a mature sound that finds the band becoming mellower as they grow older. Playing mostly tracks from the new album, “Leave Here A Stranger,” they also dove back into the past couple of albums. We may never again see the day Jason Martin comes out pounding power chords with blazing distortion and never will I complain.
Torn between watching SF59 and Saviour Machine, I raced back and forth, but became more and more mesmerized by the latter. Walking through the clouds created by the numerous smoke machines, a man in black with a white painted face and a jewel imprinted in his forehead made his way to the front of the stage. Singing in a dark, but gorgeous voice, he gave the music a haunting but spiritual feel. My first experience with Saviour Machine was an awe-inspiring one. The show lasted three hours, and I even let it keep me from an hour of Over The Rhine. I left the show feeling spiritually renewed.
Over the Rhine
Over the Rhine is a Cornerstone tradition. Each year I end the festival listening to Karin’s beautiful voice in the wee hours of the morning. This year was no different, but I was a little tardy. It seems they get better with each year. This year they have added a steel guitar and played classics and much of the new album, Films For Radio, which has a more country-western feel. The night grew old as they finished the festival in pleasantry.
It’s always a satisfactory two hours of calming sounds to reflect on life’s greatest week of the year. Unfortunately, it also symbolizes a sort of sad period of time, the end of Cornerstone.
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.