Wednesday morning, Joye prepared some precious pancakes for us all. Emily and I walked up the hill to the Anchor tent to catch the end of their morning service, where pastor Joshua something said some cool things about church unity and about getting excited for other people when you see God working in their lives and changing them. We decided to come back on time the next day and bring our Bibles like good Christians.
At 12 was an interview with Showbread in the same tent, and it was cool to learn more both about Showbread’s past and about their recent move from Tooth & Nail to the non-profit donation-supported ministry-oriented Come & Live organization. A lot of people were telling them they’re crazy, but they said when in the past when they’ve felt God call them to do something and other people said it was crazy, that’s the stuff that’s worked out the best, so they’re stepping out in faith.
This was followed by an awkward mewithoutYou interview that included a former band member confessing he had left the faith and Aaron Weiss declining to discuss his. We then headed over to the new Encore tent to see Send Out Scuds, the only ska band at Cornerstone this year. It was fun enough but the speakers were turned up so painfully loud I was concerned about the other shows in that tent coming up later that week.
We went to the merch tent to see if Josh Dies was at the Showbread booth and got to talk to him for a bit. During the interview he had said after their show people came up to them and said their first album was good but not anything after that, so I told him that I actually didn’t like them at first but have grown to really appreciate them over the years.
Bradley Hathaway played a deliberately awkward afternoon Main Stage slot, where he noted that most of the band members were getting married in between singing his sing-songy songs about insurmountable bliss and unfathomable loss. “My love is a raisin………………. My love is a raisin………………. and God’s is a pumpkin, or a cantaloupe, or a watermelon, or a really big somethin and I WANNA EAT IT!”
Earlier we had walked through the secondary merch tent and seen a $5 haircut sign. My hair was getting longer but I hadn’t gotten around to doing this deed back in the city so we took advantage of a lull in the musical action to have the deed done here. The pleasant hairdresser was a student of Paul Mitchell or whatever and said she was pleasantly surprised by how many people were willing to let a stranger at Cornerstone cut their hair. (Not surprising if you know how much I care about my hair, but I’m not everyone…)
mewithoutYou played Main Stage for the second Cornerstone in a row, and it was an enjoyable performance that included most of my favorite songs – and Timbre on the harp, of course – even if the setting sun behind the new stage location was a bit of an eyesore. Red was up next, but we skipped that to get the advertised free root beer floats from the generator Solace Stage. We then walked around and stopped by Jesus Village for a bit, where we saw a guy from a band called Nightengale sing some songs with some cool piano parts.
tobyMac closed out the night on Main Stage, and even though he’s getting old and I’m not the fan I used to be, I still know all the words to “Extreme Days.” I don’t remember hearing that song, but we did hear a variety of tracks from his career, including a surprising number from the ol’ Momentum – although both the upside and the downside of his beat-driven hip-hop-pop is that he can flow in and out of a large number of songs without ever playing any of them in full – verse, chorus, maybe a bridge, and on to the next one! (His inclusion of “In The Light” allowed me to hold on to those ridiculous hopes of a D.C. reunion.)
We left before his encore to go to the Underground tent to check out Sleeping Giant, a metal act that I didn’t see last year but heard about their worshipful shows, which isn’t exactly something you see every day in that genre (as overrepresented at Cornerstone as it is). They were more than their reputation – in fact, their frontman sounded like a young charismatic preacher plucked from a Pentecostal church and dropped into a metalcore band. God’s doing something in this generation tonight, God wants to heal you tonight – the whole bit (They even have a song called “No One Leaves This Room Sick”). And while any criticisms about churches focused on “emotional experience” would have been just as valid here, it was simply and truly a cool experience (and I’ve written in the past about emotion’s place in Christianity). I mean, where else can you be a part of hundreds of metal kids raising their hands and singing “OH PRAISE HIM” for ten minutes straight at the top of their lungs? The metal guitar chug during that chorus was accompanied by a percussive ensemble featuring some folks from Men As Trees Walking, which was also cool for its uncommon genre-mixing.
The Chariot show was slated to start at midnight over at the Encore, but that kind of metal worship experience wasn’t something you get to be a part of every day, so we lingered at the Underground but ended up arriving right before The Chariot actually started anyway. I was astounded to catch a glimpse of Timbre’s harp on the stage before we entered the noisy, crowded tent. I had missed this band’s legendary shows at Cornerstone in the past due to schedule conflicts, but Flatfoot 56 was playing midnight on Thursday this year, and I no longer had any excuses for missing out on the awesomeness that I had heard about from every corner of Internet and friend. You don’t even have to like their chaotic hardcore to like their crazy live show, people would say, and besides, I already barely liked them enough to purchase their last CD and give it a tentative tenth place in my ’09 album list.
Emily and I were about halfway back on the left side, and we couldn’t see a thing from the stage (though thankfully Emily let me borrow one of her earplugs to save at least one of my ears). The screaming, banging, and pounding lit up the stage and the crowd, and we inched our way closer as people filtered out for the night, slowly increasing our stage visibility. Suddenly, the chaos stopped, and there was Timbre, pushing her harp onto the stage. She and her friends played a sharply contrasting calming interlude, keeping us oblivious to the fact that the band was moving to a tiny platform in the back of the tent! The interlude ended, the fans at the back of the tent got a surprising close-up for a few songs. The members returned to the front for the final songs, but not before “Wolf” shaved his massive beard from the stage – true to the rumors Mike had relayed to us earlier that day.
They closed with “Daggers,” my favorite song off the album. The chaotic hardcore of most of their stuff is well enough for what it is, but there’s not enough Melody for me. In spite of this, they maintain a strong enough sense of Rhythm to keep me interested, and I’m most enthused when they interrupt their thrashing with a cool groove. During the closing song, a variety of bass drums and other percussive instruments were added to the stage for a variety of musicians to pound out that “BOOM – – BUM – – BA BA BA BOOM – – ”
It was well after 1 in the morning by the time we headed back to our tents for the night, but what a day it had been. And we still had three to go….