cornerstone, music


Chapter One
Lately, for whatever reason, no matter when I go to bed, I’ve been waking up at something like 7 or 8. This held true on Tuesday, where I was greeted by a morning sun and a sky-blue sky. I overlooked the beautiful, peaceful lake while reading some Psalms. John got up, got out his little Propane stove, and cooked the bacon and eggs we had purchased at Wal-mart on Monday night. As a plug for any ladies interested and eligible, John is a good cook.

John as Cook

Most of the music didn’t get going until after noon, but we decided to check out some of the smaller tents and experience the morning scene. We caught the very end of what looked like a cool worship session at the Anchor Stage before heading over to the Impromptu Stage to see who our friend Jay had allowed to play.

Scottish Rat Shop
This turned out to be one of the most entertaining shows of the week – a fun punk band from Scotland called Rodent Emporium (or as the lead guy explained, “In American, that’s ‘Rat Shop.’ “) They churned out good old school punk style rhythms with hilarious punk style songs with lyrics about recovering from break-ups (I’ll get over you in my own way (x3) / I’ll build a model airplane) or embracing manliness (I’m a man, I’m a man, I’m a man, I’m a man, not a woman!). We left this amazing show with some CDs and T-shirts.

Tooth & Nail Day
We headed over to the bigger yellow tents to see some of the Tooth & Nail bands. I stopped by the T&N merch booth and picked up some long-awaited discs by Underoath, mewithoutYou, and Children 18:3.

Capital Lights put on a good show, with a catchy pop punk/alternative sound something like Relient K with a dash of old Panic! I’ll probably pick up their debut that releases on Tuesday the 8th. Later in the afternoon we saw Children 18:3, who still has my favorite album of the year for 2008. These three home-schooled siblings from Minnesota have a name that sounds like some youth group worship band; they dress like goth punks (except for drummer Seth, who looks like an Abercrombie model);


but they sound like the freshest, tightest, three-piece alternative punk band in years, and the brother-sister vocal trade-offs of guitarist David and bassist Lee Marie are simply delightful.

Lee Marie


They rocked the tent with their catchy songs and crazy talented musicianship (we also saw guys from Flatfoot 56 and Capital Lights in the crowd). John and Mike both became instant fans, as will you if you ever listen to or see them.

The band Ruth played a quick set, and I had a chance to tell Dustin at their merch booth that while I love all the Tooth & Nail bands, his is the record I put on when I need to get back in that attitude of surrender and renew my focus.

We went back and cooked some of the hot dogs we practically stole from Wal-mart (packages of 8 for 68 cents! Made with Chicken, Pork, and Beef….). By now the big merchandise tent was open, and we walked through to check out the different T-shirts, CDs, charities, accessories, and other odds and ends. I was browsing through some cheap old CDs when I heard a “Nice shirt.” I looked up to see Justin and Kelsey from Deas Vail commenting on my shirt that bore their band’s name. They recognized me – even with glasses (who wants to mess with contacts and solution while camping?) and unshaved stubble – from May when they played at Sam’s church and spent the night at our house. They were putting up posters for their shows later that week.

This was followed by shows from Jonezetta and Showbread. Showbread’s dedicated fans always make their shows a great experience. I was disappointed that The Glorious Unseen’s late-night slot for Tooth & Nail Day had apparently disappeared, as I was looking forward to some incredible worship. Fortunately, they played later in the week.

It was close to midnight, and we went back to camp and broke out the acoustic guitars and light percussion, browsing through some worship songs we remembered. After we went to bed we heard that worship music in the distance again, and Mike and I decided to figure out where it was coming from this time. We walked through hundreds of yards of campsites and the music wasn’t getting any louder. Indeed, it was starting to be drowned out by the night life of the camp sites closer to the music tents and stages (a stark contrast to our quieter side of the camp). The music had stopped, but there were very few tents with lights on at one in the morning, and we found one that still had some people in it.

“Was there just music playing in here?” Mike asked.

“Yes – some awesome worship!” a young woman told us. We met Amy, Bethany, and other volunteers who were more or less in charge of the tent, coming from Chicago as part of the church that helps put on Cornerstone (or something like that). We learned that this was indeed where the music had come from, and that they had worship every night at midnight. It was too bad we had just missed it, but “maybe you’re here for a reason,” Amy suggested. “Besides, we could use some help closing the tent down.” So we made some friends while clasping and unclasping tent flaps – they called us Tent Boy 1 and 2 before learning our real names.

If we had checked out the music last night or come at a different time, we might have just seen the worship and left when it was done, or missed them altogether. These sorts of “random meetings” are pretty much the rule at Cornerstone, where anything from the timing of a bathroom break to a tying of the shoes can determine who you’re going to run into or stand next to at a show. Brought together by a love of music and fellowship, almost everyone is friendly, and half the fun of Cornerstone comes from interactions with people you don’t (didn’t?) even know. (Jacob has a lot of fun stories about hanging out with a youth group from Texas, who would do hilarious things like send someone farther up the road to learn a person’s name, walkee-talkee it down to the main group, and have them all chant the name loudly as the confused person walked by.)

Oh yes, the fun was just beginning.