cornerstone, music


Tuesday, as usual, was our first full day at the festival (and even though the “official programming” still didn’t “start” until Wednesday, by this year it had leaked so much into Tuesday that we could look forward to an evening with Switchfoot, a.k.a. the guinea pig band for the new location of Main Stage to make sure all was swell before a dozen bands played on it the following day).

In the morning, John and I accompanied the Currys to the IGA to get the rest of our food for the week, including (begin commercial) the Pick-5-for-$19.95 meat package that armed us with Chicken Patties, Chicken Strips, Chicken Nuggets, Turkey slices, and BACON (end commercial). A weather forecast screen by the checkout line foretold beautiful high’s in the 70’s – some of the best weather the festival’s ever had. Back at Cornerstone farm, I saw that the crane and pipes had spent the night, learned that water wasn’t coming out of the sinks, and saw a sign that said the showers would be back on by the afternoon (ah-ha!).

We walked around the grounds some more, and I succeeded in bringing John and my brothers to the second show from The Skies Revolt (although we didn’t end up catching the next four times they played). After lunch, Mike went looking for firewood and came back with an entire young tree. The tree accompanied us on our second (and regretfully last) impromptu parade. With Jacob leading “You Are My Sunshine” on his guitar, and my accompaniment on melodica (and Mike’s spontaneous “We are at Cornerstone…” verses), we gathered quite a rousing crowd and many more smiles as we walked down paths and past campsites.

Then it was back to chilling at the campsite until we heard some enchanting percussion coming from the nearby Come&Live tent. It was Men As Trees Walking. Adrienne says they label themselves as “prophetic worship,” and they were both everything and nothing that you’d expect from charismatic musicians, from the free-flowing worship with mysterious spiritual lyrics (“I can hear the rhythm of the tribe of the lion of Judah”) to the black-and-white steam-punk costumes to the occasional reggae off-beats to the eight-and-a-half-month pregnant vocalist who’s the daughter of the frontman and the husband of the guitarist. Like all Come&Live artists, they give their music away for free on, but I bought the CD, which provides the lyrics and stories behind the tracks along with the good production quality.

We walked over to the Jesus Village tent to see what had been billed as Irish worship, although first we were treated to the work of a Hispanic rapper. The next act wasn’t really from Ireland, but the fiddle was soothing to a tired Emily.

John prepared a gourmet dinner of mac and cheese, garlic, hot dogs, and garlic (did I mention garlic?). The big merch tent opened at 6 (even though the “official programming” didn’t “start” until Wednesday), where I picked up the first Showbread disc. Then it was off to the Rodent Emporium show, which surprisingly featured both a circle pit and a large number of children. They didn’t play their hit single “I’m A Man (Not A Woman)” but with other fan favorites like “Hunting For The Rhode Island Sasquatch,” “Franchise,” and “Chickens of Thought,” you couldn’t leave too disappointed.

Next it was time for my third Switchfoot show, and my second at Cornerstone. I’ve had trouble appreciating the latest work of my once-favorite band, but the show was better than I was expecting. Playing a well-rounded collection of songs from their last four albums, Switchfoot reminded me why I used to love them so much (and still do quite a bit), and Jon took full advantage of the giant platform while remaining down-to-earth and approachable. When a fan held up a cardboard sign with a poster advertising a much-younger-looking Switchfoot’s first Cornerstone show, Jon recalled those days with fondness and even had the whole band sign it. I admire them for still having all three original band members after thirteen-odd years (not counting the two new guys to help fill their post-2003 arena rock sound, of course). Emily and I hung around to see if Jon would play some of his solo acoustic stuff, but they had to get back to somewhere, and then it was too late to even join the really long line to say thanks.

By then it was after 10:00 and we were right in the middle of the worst Cornerstone schedule conflict of the week: Flatfoot 56 / Timbre / The Ember Days followed by Showbread. Showbread was only playing once, but they ended up starting so late we could have seen a beautiful relaxing Timbre show and not missed much… but we can’t change that now. Showbread is down to four people and a rusty live show, but over the years I’ve grown from hating them to appreciating their energetic live show and dedicated fans to really loving Josh Dies’s writing style that holds nothing back either in its depiction of our depravity or in its depiction of God’s grace, whether in the weird vomiting metaphors or in the breakout of open worship. I also appreciate Showbread’s decision to leave the successful Tooth & Nail record label to try out this donation-supported give-away-your-music Come&Live thing that they felt God was leading them to.

Never afraid of appearing vulnerable, Josh mentioned his own struggles – how it’s easy for him to say he loves the homosexual or the terrorist but it’s hard for him to love a Christian brother who is racist or a televangelist who’s “stealing people’s money,” even though it’s all the same. So often I see well-meaning Christians declare their desire to love people that other “judgmental” Christians don’t treat lovingly, but in doing so they also end up judging the judgmental, guilty of the same sins toward the very people whose sins they declare themselves free of. I absolutely loved the fact that Josh saw that in himself and was working to love everyone unequivocally – both the unloved and the unloving.

You place Your hands around my heart, You quiet the emptiness in me
A king that kneels, a God made a servant, You set the captives free
You wait for me, a wretch of a man, no record of wrongs do You keep
You are comfort when I mourn, You are strength when I am weak
Jesus Christ, the king of kings
Though we ache, though we cry, never break, never die
We sing of His great love again and again
And His love reigns forever, and forevermore
Forever and ever, Amen

Not a bad way to end the night.