Well, I’m back at home in suburban Atlanta (with a post-fest day off for the first time I can remember, thankfully – the first day back is always rough), and like most of my fellow bloggers, some post-fest wrapup posts are forthcoming, but I wanted to go through the final day of the fest for the sake of completeness.
Unfortunately, the Godfathers Pizza in Macomb has closed. It’s a bit of a tradition among my circle of friends to hit up the pizza buffet at least one day of the trip, so without it, we were left a bit adrift, trying to fill a Godfathers-shaped hole. There’s probably a tortured metaphor to be had there, but I’m not the guy to write it, so everybody fill in your own. Anyway, we ended up at Jimmy John’s, which was probably marginally more healthy and significantly less satisfying.
Several of the bands I wanted to watch on Saturday were daytime Main Stage bands, which points out one deficiency in the new Main Stage location – it’s hot and sunny in the daytime, and there’s almost no shade to be had around Main Stage. People were crowding into the wake of the sound tower and under the spotlight platform to get out of the sun, and this was a very mild weather year. When another of those 100+ degree days hits in the future, I don’t think you’ll find me watching any bands at Main Stage.
The first band I saw was the Glorious Unseen (who gave us a very “Cornerstone” moment – a guitarist playing worship music in an Anthrax t-shirt – just a funny visual). They were good, but by that point, my attention span for unfamiliar stuff was pretty short, so I didn’t get as much out of it as I might have. After a brief diversion to see Tonight Tonight on the Encore stage (a set marred by sound problems and a struggling vocalist early, but both got better by the end), it was back to Main Stage to see House of Heroes (better than I remembered, and good fun to watch) and All the Day Holiday (not very well suited for Main Stage – they’d have gone down better on Gallery or Encore – but they did a good set, nonetheless).
My friends and I headed out to the generator stages to try to catch some hip hop acts, but as is the generator stage custom, the schedule was completely destroyed, and none of the acts we wanted to see were actually there. Instead, we caught another set from Oh! The Humanity! (a synthpop-and-guitar duo that I saw earlier in the week). They had a better crowd this time, people that were actually up and dancing, and they seemed to feed off the energy and put on a very good show. They were one of very few new bands that I saw and enjoyed this year.
I hitched a golf cart ride down to the old Main Stage bowl area, just to see what it looks like. It looks kind of sad without a stage down there – it’s all grown up with weeds and a JPUSA vegetable garden, and the buildings (the t-shirt shed and what I assume is the artist hospitality trailer) look pretty decrepit. I’ve heard that the artist hospitality area (now located in the former dance barn building, a bigger, better space) was improved this year, so I imagine that was one change that the bands playing on Main Stage appreciated. Still, it was kind of sad to see the old place in that condition.
Running low on energy, I parked myself at the Gallery for the rest of the night. The first band I saw was O’Brother, playing music that’s dramatic but hard to really find a hook into (stuff my friends and I have dubbed “projector band” music, after bands like Ester Drang that used to play similarly hookless music). I didn’t mind them, but I don’t particularly get the style – I tend to like stuff you can dance to or sing along with. I’d love to hear a fan of that style describe to me what they hear in it, though – I’m genuinely curious.
Future of Forestry were next. I was marvelling at how full their sound was with only three people in the band (they were multitasking, but still…), and the singer mentioned that they normally play with 5 or 6 people on the stage. I was quite taken with their set, enough to spend most of the rest of my cash on their three Travel EPs. I kind of get the feeling that their music is the sort of stuff that I’ll find less interesting on my iPod in the car than I did live, but their live set was good enough to convince me to take a shot on it.
I was looking forward to seeing Ivoryline, who I’d missed a couple of times in years past. They’re a little heavy for some of the Gallery crowd, but I don’t mind seeing rock bands. I didn’t love their set, though – it was a little rawer than the studio stuff I’d heard before. It’s also possible that I was just tired enough that I wasn’t going to particularly enjoy anything at that point.
The final band of 2010 for me was Seabird. I really like Seabird, though I kind of overdosed myself on their music after the 2008 fest and haven’t really fully recovered. They sounded great, though, and were a nice fit at the Gallery, with a very respectable crowd (many of whom were probably there to avoid The Devil Wears Prada on Main Stage, but you play the hand you’re dealt). They probably won over some new fans.
Speaking of Seabird fans, though, there was one small irritation. Last year, my friend and fellow Blogger Becky wrote about a group of kids that were “living the dream” at the Seabird show, standing down front to see their favorite band. That bunch was back again this year, but it really wasn’t quite as cute this time around. The Gallery tends to be a sitdown sort of venue (with rare exceptions – I was part of the bunch standing up for Paper Route this year, for example), which inevitably leads to come conflict when “younger” bands play the stage (hence the dueling cries of “stand up!” and “sit down!” during Eisley – I was in the front row, so I merrily stayed in my seat and enjoyed the show). I understand the appeal of standing up, but I also understand the appeal of sitting down, and my general philosophy on the matter is to either follow what the majority are doing, or find a spot where I can do whatever I want without bothering anybody else. It’s all about empathy and consideration for your fellow concert-goers. So when you’re the only people standing in front of a stage that’s about 18″ tall, with a few hundred people sitting behind you to watch the show, that’s kind of a jerk move. (To be fair, a few people eventually joined the standing crowd- mostly kids that were sitting directly behind the standers and couldn’t see anything otherwise, plus photographers.) When 2 or 3 people ask you (not yell at you, but come up and ask you personally) if you’d please sit down or move so people can see, and you continue to stand, that’s kind of a jerk move. And if you’re just going to stand there and not dance or jump around, there’s really no reason TO stand other than to stand for the sake of standing. It kind of does a disservice to the band, too – people that can’t see the band are more likely to just say “forget it” and leave, or get ticked off about the situation and not really be in the right frame of mind for the show. So I guess what I’m saying is “don’t be a jerk” and “have some empathy with other people.” Next year, I’m throwing bottles.
So that’s it for Cornerstone 2010 for me. I’ll take a bit of time to digest everything I experienced and put it all together into some wrapup posts in the next few days, so keep reading!