The “start” of the festival is a little fuzzy anymore, since a lot of bands played on generator stages on Monday and early Tuesday. Let’s call Tuesday “Day 0” since there were at least a handful of bands on the actual festival stages. The weather was beautiful – sunny, dry, not too hot – and looks to continue that way for the rest of the week. I’m loving that, though I could do with a bit less dust.
As my blogging compatriots have already written, the schedules that are published before the festival for the generator stages are suggestions at best, and between that, some technical problems on a couple of stages that put them behind schedule and a few last-minute cancellations, we had a bit of trouble actually finding the bands that we wanted to see. That’s par for the course, though, so you just have to be flexible and try to keep up as best you can. It does, however, seem like some sort of centralized way of distributing schedule information (Twitter?) would be handy (“Pilate Error starts in 5 minutes on the Impact Stage”) if the technical details could be worked out.
I started the day wandering amongst the generator stages and saw a handful of good bands, including the Rendition, Sleep For Sleepers, Rodent Emporium, and bits and pieces of Men As Trees Walking, Preson Phillips, the Wayside, and Breille. Breille was playing an old-school (and unauthorized) generator set on the side of the road, just 3 guys and a minimal amount of gear, but they sounded pretty tight until they got shut down. There were a few other impromptu side-of-the-road sets around the grounds, too, but they were mostly acoustic things, including a guy with an accordion trying to make enough tips to pay off a speeding ticket.
The main thing that I took away from my experience at the new generator stage layout was that trying to stagger things so that stages aren’t playing at the same time right next to each other would be nice. Given the fluid nature of the schedules for those stages, it’s probably not possible, though.
The centerpiece of the evening took place on the new centerpiece of the festival grounds, Switchfoot on the relocated Main Stage. The stage looks kind of cool in its new location – it kind of looms in the background of most of the places around the grounds now. Seeing the right band play on that stage when one of the occasional glorious Cornerstone sunsets is going on behind them will be pretty awesome. As for Switchfoot, they were better than I expected them to be. I saw them a couple of times way back in the day and didn’t much care for them, but their newer material comes across better live, and the band (with Jon Foreman in the lead) does deliver a good rock show. Foreman takes a lot of cues from the Bono school of performance – climbing stage scaffolding, jumping into the crowd, slinging his guitar behind his back, pulling out a harmonica – but Bono’s not a bad guy to emulate if you’re trying to put on a big rock show.
I was dead tired by the end of the night – apparently I’m getting old, and it takes me a bit longer to switch over to “Cornerstone time” than it used to – so I ended my musical evening with Nitengale (who are apparently down to just the singer playing piano or acoustic guitar). Unfortunately, I only caught the last 3 or 4 songs of the set, but they were quite good. Playing solo, the singer’s voice really shines – I never realized what a good singer he is from seeing the band live and listening to their first album. I’m going to try to catch more of the set tonight at 9 on the Jesus Village.
Today: the Kicks (a straightforward rock and roll band that I’m really looking forward to seeing live), perennial fest favorites Terry Taylor, Mike Roe, and the Lost Dogs, Jeff Elbel + Ping; and too much other stuff to choose from. It should be a good day for music!