John cooked the greasy bacon while Emily scrambled the eggs. We finished in time for me and Emily to get to the Anchor tent by 10AM for the whole service, worship and all (we even spied Timbre a few yards ahead of us). Joshua preached some good stuff again about expectations and entitlements, saying it’s a worldly lie that we can be anything we want to be and do anything we want to do, and we’ll ultimately find more fulfillment anyway in doing what God wants us to do. He also encouraged us to be aware of the places of influence we are in, and a woman encouraged and prayed for all the influential young women under the tent to not be afraid or held back by others’ expectations and limitations, especially within the church.
In the afternoon Emily and I checked out Day 2 of the “Married and Lovin’ It!” seminar to see if it was any good. Cornerstone director John Herrin and his wife shared advice, insight, and experience about conflict resolution, and we were glad we went, although not particularly sorry that we missed Day 1. We browsed the nearby used bookstore tent and picked up a couple titles from the unsorted tables.
Then it was time for Bleach’s first concert in six years on the Main Stage. I had come across a couple of their songs back in the day on compilations and samplers but had somehow missed getting into their Weezer-esque “nerd rock” along with my dc Talk, Audio Adrenaline, and Newsboys. Even so, their set was a nice retro rock trip back to my high school days, and we talked to their frontman afterwards for a few minutes. He said they’ve all pretty much moved on since the Bleach days but it was fun to be back with the band again and they’d probably play a few more shows or festivals and maybe even record some music. Zach brought Mike’s tree to the show for shade and got it signed by all the band members.
Brooke Waggoner played next at the relaxing Gallery Stage. I had stumbled upon her last year and almost liked her piano indie-pop enough to buy a CD; this year she convinced me. It didn’t hurt that she was accompanied on the harp by spring tour-mate Timbre, who seemed to be everywhere this year (It was actually pretty cool to see all the musical networking going on).
We had chicken strips for dinner and then started getting ready for the midnight Flatfoot 56 show. This year’s theme was “Shark Week,” and Emily and I had bought life preservers, noodles, and bubbles for the festivities. Adrienne skillfully painted sharks and other marine memorabilia on various arms, calves, and foreheads, and Jon donned his captain’s hat and pipe.
But we still had a few hours to pass before the community punk show. We endured a few Main Stage songs by Phil Joel, and let’s just say that he’s still missed by the Newsboys. (No offense to my original keyboardist hero Jeff Frankenstein, who also now does the bass parts in synth. Or. Something.) We headed over to the Raging Storm tent before another Rodent Emporium show to catch Tyler from Insomniac Folklore play some folky sing-alongs. (He was one of the Portlanders who played in Chuck’s basement last week, even though he was without his band.)
Rodent Emporium played an acoustic set, which brought a fun freshness to the fun Scotland punk quartet, including the sing-along closer “What’s in the Water, Bob?” which involved fans guiding the verses by yelling out things that were “in the water,” including crude oil, SpongeBob, and platypus. I saw Mr. Folklore with us in the pit, and while I never would have thought about similarities between punk and folk, there was a connection in that silly acoustic set. We also saw a young girl with homemade shark wounds, ready for the upcoming Flatfoot tank!
We came back to the campsite and chilled for a bit before checking out some Photoside Cafe at Jesus Village. We expected to look out of place with our Flatfootized life preservers and noodles, but we saw a guy on the side making signs and scuba gear out of cardboard and tape. The Photoside show was alright but we left early to nostalgize with some Skillet on the Main Stage. We didn’t stay long in the cool night before heading over to the Encore tent, where Gasoline Heart was the last band to play before Flatfoot. The lead guy was a little too irreverent for me and I don’t remember how any of the music went (although I’m pretty sure I saw them open for mewithoutYou at Off Broadway a couple years ago and remembered thinking of them as a less-polished indie version of the Goo Goo Dolls). Apparently his real band wasn’t with him but some guys from The Almost came down from Main Stage to play with him, and it was really interesting to contrast their stage presence with that of the indie guys (musical networking, again).
Finally it was time for the event we’d all been waiting for. Flatfoot 56 is more than just a Christian punk band with a mandolin and bagpipes; they’re the encouraging shepherds of an enormous friendly community that gathers every year at Cornerstone for a themed night of music, joy, running in circles, and sweat. Fans began to fill the tent with a creative collection of costumes and carry-ons for this year’s Shark Week. The noise level rose as beach balls and inflatable water toys began to be thrown around the tent before the band even started sound checking, with the occasional beach ball being punctured by a hoisted aluminum-cut shark fin. A kid in a cardboard shark costume started crowdsurfing, and the crowd gave him laps around the tent for at least ten minutes. Water balloons started attacking from somewhere behind us. Emily and I took refuge by a tent pole, where we met a friendly, bulky undercover security guard who had been strategically placed to prevent the pole from becoming dislodged in the chaos that was about to ensue (see last year’s “Alamo” game during 2009’s Fiesta theme…..)
The lights went down and a pre-recorded disclaimer came on (although you really need to view the link – not my video – to get the full sense of the cheers, laughter, and chaos.) “Good evening, and welcome to Shark Week. We’d like to take the time to inform you of the dangers of this evening’s presentation. Flatfoot 56 is not liable for any and all injuries that may and most certainly will occur in tonight’s show. It is not recommend for any persons under 1.4 meters tall who are nursing, pregnant, or who may become pregnant, elderly, or anyone who has a history of kidney disease or brittle bone disease to enter the shark tank. The shark tank is defined but not limited to the following activities: circle pits, pile-ons, moshing, feeding frenzies, possible fishing-related sports, and Braveheart wall-of-shark death. These activities will be performed by those present, including humans, humans disguised as sharks, humans with fins, half-shark half-human biological oddities, and actual sharks. Note: Flatfoot 56 is not responsible for any encounters or injuries sustained by actual sharks as they were not invited. Not to be confused with the San Jose Sharks, who were also not invited to this or the Stanley Cup Finals, which was owned by the Chicago Blackhawks. Go Blackhawks. And furthermore, exits are located any place in this tent you can squeeze your body out of. Please be aware that the tent poles are necessary for continuation of this performance. Do not remove them. Anyone not directly involved in the shark tank is warned to keep arms and legs outside the shark tank at all times. Side effects may include but are not limited to projectile vomiting, blood clots, seizures, pregnancy, rashes, cuts, burns, irritable bowel syndrome, dry red eyes, fingertip sensitivity, Icelandic volcanic eruptions, increased mortgage rates, stroke, heart failure, death, explosive diarrhea, and conjunctivitis, hopefully unrelated. This production is meant for educational purposes only but may be too intense for some viewers. It has been edited for television and pre-recorded for this time zone. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. No sharks were harmed in the making of this show. We hope that your safety does not negatively reflect on your experience of tonight’s performance. At the request of the Flatfoot management we must insist that all participants in this show be safe, and have fun. Thank you.”
The band began making noise, and Frontman Tobin Bawinkel cried out, “Wow! What a sorry sack of fish this looks like. Here we go!” The mandolin kicked off the intro to the new record’s title track, and the circle pit ignited. Emily and I braced ourselves against the pole and avoided the intense laps this year, although we caught frequent glimpses of Jacob, Stephen, Ryan, and Zach running by. Between two songs the band brought out two inflatable swimming pools filled with shaving cream and distributed them via crowdsurfing to either side of the tent, telling each side that they had to be the first to knock down the other’s pool – with an extra reminder to watch out for the poles this year. Neither side last long. I had picked up some earplugs earlier that day and wore them for most of this show, but I took them out for the “Amazing Grace” finale to embrace the full energy of the raucous, joyous community. Once again, Tobin got a tentful of sweaty people to link arms and sing praises at the top of our lungs (which also must be seen in video).
In the aftermath, we met Jeremy Brooks as well as Emily’s mother, who apparently joined Joye for at least a fraction of a circle pit lap. Aw yeah, this was why we came to Cornerstone every year. And the next day it would be time to see all of our favorite bands that hadn’t played yet at the festival….