Best of the Fest

This year’s fest deserves a longer wrap-up, but first, I want to offer my annual list of best-of’s. Please add a comment to add your favorite moments.

Best show, all-around: Mike Mains & the Branches

The crowd on stage with Mike Mains & the Branches. Photo by Steve White for

At least, this was the best show if you were standing and dancing within 5 feet of the stage! (Though, I think the rest of the Gallery crowd liked it, too.) The music was amazing and the band’s energy was contagious. They were polished, tight, and having fun — great to see in a band with just one “real” album under their belts and playing only their second Cornerstone. Definitely one of those bands that, had things gone differently, could be playing a key role in fests for years to come.

Best encores: The Violet Burning

Michael Pritzl of the Violet Burning. Photo by Steve White for

The Violets played as a 4-piece and really brought the rock. I hadn’t seen them in a few years, and feared it might be a morose and almost funereal moment, as this band who has played dozens of festivals looked upon the end. Instead, it was an outright passionate celebration of the work of God around us, rock & roll, Cornerstone, and so much more. The main set, playing through about half of the 3-cd set “Story of Our Lives,” was good, but the encores just blew me away.  Working in fan-favorites from years past and an odd 1:45am call to Mike Row, it somehow added up to a very ephemeral moment of simultaneously having my face melted by rock & roll and wanting to fall on my knees before God.

Best moment from a Gallery-stage band to capture what Cornerstone means: The Choir

I think I was 5 when The Choir played the first Cornerstone. No, I wasn’t there. I didn’t know any of their music until a group of friends played me “Circle Slide” one night at Cornerstone 1998 or 1999 (about a decade too late). Due to the influence of my friends, I’ve come to appreciate their heartfelt lyrics, adapting style, perseverance to keep making music, and simultaneous sense of both humor and emotion. As others have said, it was very fitting for the band who played the first show of the first Cornerstone to give the fest a final eulogy on Saturday night.

Best moments from Underground-stage bands to capture what Cornerstone means: Flatfoot 56

Flatfoot 56. Photo by Shutterblade for

I honestly didn’t make it to a single second of this year’s Flatfoot show. I’m sad about that, but heard reports on it from several friends. I think they, once again, captured something about the essence of Cornerstone. Inviting the crowd to participate, making great music, and honoring God. They printed t-shirts listing all their past fest shows (and the themes of those shows), and you could check off which you survived.

Best souvenier: the fest posters & shirts

It’s not just because these posters look so awesome in our home office! This year’s fest shirts — and posters — were really well done. They’re reportedly the most complicated design that Belly Acres has ever printed for a fest shirt ever. And, what’s better — I’ve heard you’ll be able to buy them post-fest. (Watch the Cornerstone Festival facebook page for info, I’m sure.)

Best Get Your Arms in the Air moment: Da MAC

Nate & Scott watching Da MAC. Photo by Steve White for

Da MAC has an absolute gift for bringing people together and getting them to worship through music. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to see him several times at the fest over the years. Toddlers, teens, adults, punks, athletes, fest directors, engineers and quilters (those last two are my husband & I) — everybody had their hands in the air doing the “dirty bounce” and much more.