Wow. Cornerstone Numero Two for me was even more fun than the first one – despite the fact that we had to leave 30 hours before the festival ended. This year I got less sleep, met more people, had more worship, and just had an all-around greater sense of community and uplifting experience.
Monday was only a half-day at Cornerstone, but it was a wonderful introduction and it laid the groundwork for a lot of things that happened later.
It all started with Mr. Tiki. My brother Jacob had this random plastic Tiki-man cup that he got from helping out at VBS or something, and we decided to take pictures and video of “Mr. Tiki” documenting his adventures through Cornerstone and the subsequent family reunion. It began innocently enough – a few words by Mr. Tiki in the car – and it grew to become a hilarious driving force in our Cornerstone experience.
After last-minute stops to Wal-mart, houses, and filling stations, we left O’fallon around 11:00 on Monday morning, June 30, 2008. We had to take a slightly different route out of St. Louis since Highway 79 was still flooded in several parts by the cresting Mississippi. Fortunately, the bridge at Hannibal was still open. We stopped for lunch at Wendy’s – where the manager saw my fest shirt from last year and noted that one of their employees was already on his way.
We crossed into Illinois with few problems until the country roads started teasing us with their multiple names. We got confused but never more than a mile off the correct path, and we pulled into the line of cars in front of the entrance at around 3:30, blaring Switchfoot and Newsboys as loudly as my car’s poor speakers could reasonably handle. While waiting to have our tickets processed, we passed some Christian-rock-is-from-hell protestors, complete with signs and bullhorn. This amused me, but it’s important to remember for something that happened Wednesday.
Anyway, we got inside and discovered that our camping spot from last year, near the top of a hill overlooking both main stage and the lake, was not yet taken, and we staked out our territory, complete with three tents for the five of us. (I initially thought this was overkill, but between bodies and belongings, we used every square inch.)
We found our Lindenwood friend Cecily before making a penultimate Wal-mart run at the town of Macomb, about twenty minutes away. Back at the campsite, we made some sandwiches while being offered leftover potatoes and green beans from our generous North Carolina youth group friends (the only vegetables we got all week – shh!).
A Light Introduction
Then it was time to do some light browsing before the big stuff started on Tuesday. We saw a decent indie rock band called Quiet Company, and a contemporary/alternative band called Candlefuse that had played at Mike’s church. We saw some of the fun Celtic punk rockers Flatfoot 56 guys already there – the tall boys are hard to miss – and got pictures with Mr. Tiki (but the fun was only beginning for Mr. Tiki and Flatfoot, as you will see).
At some point we stopped trying to get Tiki pictures with so many random strangers, saving him for the bigger prizes, but on Monday night we got a pic with a fellow standing outside the Impromptu Stage tent, and a conversation followed. Jay was from Raging Storm Records, which puts on the Impromptu Stage and gives free 15-minute slots to any band that signs up, in addition to longer scheduled slots.
We walked around some more and saw a guy playing guitar on the side of the street. This is where I must introduce you to the Gravity Principle. The more people that are watching someone play, the more other people are likely to be pulled in under the subconscious impression that “they [he] [she] must be good.” People were just walking by Jesse pouring his heart out like Glen Hansard on a crowded street, but Jacob, Stephen, and I stopped to hear a few songs. Pretty soon a morphing crowd of about a dozen had gathered. He was happy for an audience and we left with another Tiki pic.
We started looking for the nearest Johnny-on-the-Spots, but we went the wrong way and ran into a crowd of people running, jumping, dancing, singing, and beating on all sorts of percussive drums and sticks. We joined them for a few minutes, traveling down the roads and entertaining passersby with our rhythmic clappings, chantings, and rousing choruses of “Amazing Grace.”
We were already having a blast, and we hadn’t even heard any bands we had planned on yet. The first came at 11:00 in the Anchor Stage, where Ivoryline entertained the early attendees before their Tooth & Nail Day slot on Tuesday (Tooth & Nail Records is the primary “Christian rock” label). They were my favorite band I had never heard of last year, and they have a catchy alternative sound, but the sound as well as the guy’s vocals get boring or annoying after too long – both recorded and live. We left before the show ended and headed back to camp.
Before we fell asleep after midnight, we heard some worship wifting through the distant air: “Come.. Lord.. Je.. sus.. come…” Mike and I almost got up to figure out where it was coming from – but if we had figured it out at the wrong time we might have ruined what happened later. On this unsuspecting Monday night (Tuesday morning?), we simply slept.