One of the great things about Cornerstone, something that makes it so different from anything else I’ve experienced, is how effortlessly different styles (of music, of opinion, of people) mix together at the fest. It’s easy to take that for granted after years of coming here. Last night, I stood up from my chair outside a show and saw something a little unusual for everyday life, but somehow completely normal for this place. Even so, upon reflection I was amused by how casually the words “there’s a guy juggling knives over there” rolled off my tongue.
At Glenn & Wendi Kaiser’s press conference, Cornerstone was described as “an experiment in Christian liberty.” The fest has a very laissez-faire attitude toward most things, aside from a few basic rules pertaining to safety and respect for others, yet somehow thousands of people from myriad backgrounds manage to come together here every year and not only coexist but integrate into a cohesive body. If you read through the Cornerstone Memories group on Facebook, one thing that quickly becomes apparent is everybody’s Cornerstone experience is different. Everybody comes here for their own reasons, and moves within their own circles within the larger body, but those circles are constantly intersecting all over this place, and it’s a fantastic thing to watch.
You really see this in action at dance or hip hop shows here. Da MAC played a set on the Underground Stage yesterday (backed up by indie rock band The Corners), and he had a substantial crowd standing elbow-to-elbow doing goofy dances and throwing their hands in the air. It’s a little thing, but it’s still fantastic to see youth group kids, old guys, punks, hippies, and everybody else joining together in unity like that.
The atmosphere here just generally seems to make you want to be a better person. An older guy (with sprayed pink hair) trip and fall in a circle pit at Icon For Hire, and a younger guy in the pit stopped to give him some blocking and help him get back on his feet. Little things like that are repeated a thousand times a day here – people just doing little kindnesses for other folks, despite the fact that we’re all hot and tired. It can’t help but spill over into “real life,” and I’m really going to miss coming here every year for a refresher course in what “do unto others” is supposed to look like.