Drive, He Said

Thirteen hours of driving behind me, 5 days of music and fun ahead of me – that’s a good place to be. (Yes, technically there are also thirteen more hours of driving ahead of me, but let’s not talk about that right now.)

In my last post, I talked about being a creature of habit, somebody who enjoys it when certain things stay the same. The drive up seemed to be sending the message “get over it,” as there were a few things that, by choice or necessity, diverged from the usual pattern. We had lunch in a different place. (Chuy’s, a Texas-based Tex-Mex chain that’s expanded into Tennessee – my Austin friends encouraged me to try it, so I did. Good burrito.) We drove a different route. (Well, barely, but there was a detour that had a favorite backroads bypass around St. Louis partially blocked off.) We stopped at different places for food and gas. (I’ve gotta say, I was impressed that my rented, heavily-laden, enthusiastically-driven Ford Escape got 25+ MPG on the way up here.) But also for a change, we left Springfield, IL to drive on the backroads to Macomb just as the sun was setting, so we got to drive directly into a beautiful sunset for an hour, with a pilot doing aerobatics in a plane over our heads for part of the drive. That was really cool – it’s surprising how often something like that seems to happen when I’m driving up here.

Since I haven’t seen any bands yet, I’ll give you a few of the musical highlights of the drive.

  • Eisley, Combinations. Eisley is playing Cornerstone on Friday night, and I couldn’t be more excited. That’s probably my #1 most anticipated show. Combinations is a great album – lush, well-produced, sonically diverse, with beautifully harmonized vocals from the Dupree sisters. Buy the CD, come to the show Friday at 10.
  • Muse, Black Holes and Revelations. Yeah, they’re not a Cornerstone band, but when I saw them open for U2, I became a fan instantly. This CD is all over the map, with influence ranging from Queen to New Order and a lot of other places besides. Good stuff.
  • Paramore, Brand New Eyes. Paramore has matured musically with each release, and with Brand New Eyes they’ve produced a CD that’s good from start to finish, with hooks galore. Good steering wheel drumming music for road trips.

Today looks to be an interesting one at the fest musically. There aren’t many bands playing that I’m familiar with (until Rodent Emporium, Switchfoot, and Nitengale tonight), so it looks like I’ll be sampling a lot of new stuff. A few bands that particularly caught my ear:

  • Karina Mia (Impact Stage, 12:45) – a singer with an acoustic guitar (and maybe a ukulele). She had a cover of “CrushCrushCrush” on her MySpace page that sounded pretty good, so I’ll give her a shot.
  • Great Awakening (Anchor Stage, 1:30) – melodic, well-performed modern rock.
  • The Frozen Ocean (Anchor Stage, 3:00) – Gentle, mellow, and kind of ambient. A nice break from being pummeled by hardcore.
  • Sleep for Sleepers (Encore Stage, 6:00) – Mae-ish poppy rock, fairly polished and catchy.
  • Send Out Scuds (Chasing Canadia Stage, 7:50) – Ska, in case you want to party like it’s 1999.