While Tuesday was an interesting day with lots of new acts, by Wednesday morning, it felt like Cornerstone was in full force. All around the grounds, favorite bands were taking to the stage. For me, it was a day of watching how the fest has grown. I’m not talking about numbers, just talking about how the fest has grown up over the years to include so many new things, and about how individual people have grown.
For me, the day started with the first-ever tweet-up. People who follow @cstn on twitter got together in the back of the Gallery stage to meet each other, talk about new music & even the ministry impact of new technology. There wasn’t any organized conversation, just people with a shared interest chatting with voices rather than keyboards. If you missed it, be sure to check it out next year – I’m 99% sure we’ll be doing it again (I use “we” in a loose sense, of course…) Around the tweet-up, I met moms coming with their kids from California & Michigan, an acoustic singer-songwriter from Pennsylvania, a member of the band Don’t Wake Aislin, some music lovers & photography geeks from England, and many others (including some from my hometown!). It was a nice little slice of Cornerstone life. It’s nice to see the fest continuing to grow to use new technology. Twitter has definitely brought more people into the conversation.
The acoustic singer-songwriter I met at the tweet-up was Hiram Ring. He told me he was playing 1:30 at the Impromptu stage. He seemed like a nice guy, so after catching a bit of the Owl City show (super packed; I’m sure one of our other bloggers will write about it), I headed over. I’m glad I did! Hiram’s vocals were clear & strong, and though it was just him, he managed to beat a rhythmic melody on his guitar. Beautiful! This was another moment to contemplate how people have grown – Hiram mentioned how he grew up in West Africa, and his songs included references to navigating what home means.
Next up was All the Day Holiday, a 4-piece from Ohio. I really enjoyed them last year, so I was glad to see a fairly crowded tent. The title track of their new album “Thhe Things We’ve Grown to Love” has a nice quality to the vocals. The album is available in August (or at the fest for just $5). “Fingerprints” from their older album would be a good introduction to this band, if you ask me – clap-along beat, melodies that punch thru, and very open airy yet strong vocals. As far as I know, these guys had their Cornerstone debut on a generator stage a few years ago. Another example of bands growing into their prime after a few fest experiences.
I wrote in my earlier post about Men As Trees Walking. This family-and-friends project brought an authentic, beautiful style to heartfelt worship music. I caught the phrase “firstborn over all creation” in one song; that’s the kind of big idea we ought to have songs about.
Later in the afternoon, our friends gathered to watch another friend & his band rock the Gallery stage. Jeff Elbel + Ping brought their catchy songs and a give-away of debatable value. Excellent! They’re playing again on the Jesus Village Stage today. Continuing the theme of how we’ve grown – this band seems to grow every time I see them. Jeff gets tons of talented artists to join him each year.
I’m sure Jeff Holland will blog about the Square Peg Alliance shows. I just want to add how I enjoyed the thoughtfulness these guys & girl have in expressing truth & love. One of the guys (sorry, I forget which one) had a lyric about resurrection & redemption in a song about where he’d be buried that was just beautiful: “Lay me anywhere, just remember this. When you lay me down to die, you lay me down to live.” Several of these talented songwriters are people I was famliar with in the past, working with bands of a different era. It was beautiful to see them growing into their own voices.
As a friend likes to say, we then shifted gears without a clutch and went from the land of pretty acoustic music to Main Stage. Family Force 5 brought a dancier show than last year. The guys came out wearing football pads – with their dancer dressed as a referee. I love how these guys feel like a band, and not just a solo act with backup – they all get into the mix with crazy wackiness and high energy. These guys, too, have grown so much since their first Cornerstone experiences.
After an inspiring interlude with a visual performance artist, Relient K came back to familiar territory they hadn’t seen in a while. Last year, these guys played Warped Tour, and the year before their bus broke down (and burned, if I recall correctly). But, it was apparent they were happy to be back at Cornerstone, a place some of them have been around since the late ’90s (selling merch for other bands; they first played in 2001). Relient K seems to be a band that is navigating the akward growing-up stage — from writing super catchy high-school-inspired songs like “Sadie Hawkins Dance” into moments like their closing song, “Deathbed.” They said they haven’t been touring a lot lately, and seemed a little tired on some songs, but brought it strong for several new songs which struck a great balance between the fun Relient K of their first Cornerstone (including a tribute to The Office, with the line “transfer us to Scranton”) and the maturing guys they’re now becoming (with lyrics like “resurrect the saint from within the wreck” and “accept the things I can’t change now”). I hope the band can grow thru this transition and continue to put on shows that both excite the students down front and their peers who are increasingly choosing to sit up on the hill (but who are still singing along & moving to the beat).
Overall, a very successful day – filled with new artists I hope to see in the years ahead, and also watching old favorites who have grown into themselves and are making great music.