Day 1 – Swing, Swing

Wednesday was the first full day of Cornerstone 2010 proper, with all of the stages getting into full swing.  Thankfully after an exhausting Tuesday, I was finally getting into the swing of things as well – my body finally clicked over to “Cornerstone time.”

The day started with one of the bands that I was most looking forward to seeing after previewing them pre-fest, the Kicks.  They’re a 4-piece from Nashville that plays southern rock with a modern slant.  They’re tight, and their harmony vocals are great.  I really enjoyed this show – my favorite of the fest thus far.  You can download their album for free at TheKicksRock.com.

After the Kicks, I did a little stage surfing, because several of the bands I wanted to see ended up not playing.  Then I headed over to the Gallery stage to catch a couple of sets from some long-time Cornerstone vets – Terry Taylor of DA (with Mike Roe of the 77s and Steve Hindalong of the Choir backing him on bass and drums, respectively), followed by a set from Roe and Derri Daugherty of the Choir.  Their set was surprising – I expected it to focus on stuff from Derri’s solo EP, but instead they played a couple of Roe songs, some Lost Dogs stuff, and a couple of Daniel Amos songs.  Good stuff, and they’re working on an album together, as well.

Next, Jeff Elbel + Ping played their annual Gallery set, with a wide array of musicians on stage (drums, percussion, more percussion, organ, violin, and more besides).  It was great – they played some oldies from Elbel’s previous band, Farewell to Juliet, some older Ping songs, and some brand new material from Ping’s forthcoming CD.  If you like straightforward rock and roll, well-performed by a bunch of solid musicians, come check out Ping on the Jesus Village tonight at 6 PM.  Also, visit MarathonRecords.com to download a free Ping record.

After Ping’s set, I was adrift for a couple of hours once more, as a couple more bands that I wanted to see were no-shows.  I had dinner and checked out a few different stages, up until the hard choices began around 10 PM.  At 10, there were three bands that I specifically wanted to see: tobyMac on Main Stage, the Lost Dogs on the Gallery, and Quiet Science on the Jesus Village.  I eventually settled on starting out with tobyMac.  His set was very much like what I’ve seen from him in the past, but he does what he does so well that I don’t mind seeing it again.  With a 9-piece backing band flying all over the stage, and a couple of big LED-curtain backdrops that were a first for Cornerstone as far as I can recall, this was a band that was perfect for Main Stage.  I enjoyed about 30 minutes of the set, and then moved on to Quiet Science.

I first saw Quiet Science at Cornerstone last year, and I’ve seen them once more since.  Their songs are quite good, but it’s been my experience that they don’t completely come across live just yet.  Last night’s set was hindered by some technical problems (the singer broke strings on both of his guitars), but in some ways, that just made the set cooler.  The band soldiered on sans-guitar for a song, and then a guy showed up with a rockin’ Gibson SG for the singer to borrow, which he seemed excited to play.  So, although it wasn’t the most polished set, it was one of the most fun that I’ve seen this year.

I missed the Lost Dogs (but then found out that they’re playing in my hometown next week, so that worked out), so I ended my night at the Gallery with Iona, a Celtic progressive rock band that’s been around for a long time but apparently doesn’t make it to the States very often.  I’d never seen them live, so although I never got into their music, I was curious to give them a listen.  The individual performances were outstanding (as befits prog rock) and the Gallery sound was pristine, so they sounded really good.  I wasn’t as into it as I might have been had I been more familiar with their music, but it was good stuff that I’m glad I got a chance to see.

So, that brings us up to today.  There are only a few “must-see” things that I’m scheduling my day around (Ping, the Choir), so I’ll be spending a lot of time checking out new-to me stuff like The Clutter, News From Verona, Bleach, The Almost, and Lightshine Theater (a REZ tribute band, of all things).  Should be a fun day, and thankfully devoid of hard schedule decisions.

JRjr