Let’s Pretend the World Isn’t Burning Down

This month has really been a month of intense social situations around large groups of friends I rarely see followed by periods in between of recovery and idleness. It’s really been a hot and cold time. I went about two to three weeks physically and emotionally spent getting over Cornerstone week and just as I was beginning to acclimate to “normal” life again, we hosted a whole bunch of people at our house for the weekend. Now I suspect it will take another week or so to normalize again.

I always come away from these gatherings regretting that I really didn’t have any meaningful conversations with people. It always seems like I never get deeper than casual conversation or small talk. I always leave wishing I’d gotten to know people more or empathized about fears, struggles, and hopes. Part of that comes from being a host or planner, I guess, because I feel responsible for making sure people are having a good time during the entire time, so I don’t feel like I should be devoting too much time to one person or group of persons.

That’s the funny thing about being a part of an online community, though. We already spend our time discussing weighty topics like politics and religion. We already share our burdens, moan about the inane, and mourn with each other. Maybe when we actually see each other, everyone is already spent from discussing heavier matters online and people just want to forget about all that for a weekend. I don’t know. It seems so different from whenever I meet with “real life” friends and all we do is discuss all our problems, or worse, gossip about everyone else.

It’s always hard to emotionally stablize from intense events like this weekend, but I’m glad we had a chance to host everyone, and forget about all the world’s problems for a while.

“Even astronauts have down days…”

One of the joys of being an easily irritable person with hugely varying mood swings is that what goes up must inevitably come down.

…and I am coming down hard and I can feel it. Post-Cornerstone-blues, unexpected work stress (this is supposed to be the calm part of the year), and a general feeling of unhappiness are all combining to wreak havoc on my psyche. I’m not sure what’s worse, being depressed or having that sinking feeling that depression is about to onset. The irony is I have all sorts of friends coming into my house this weekend when all I really want is to be alone. I’m hoping I snap out of this before the week is over. Is it sad that I’m actually looking forward to cleaning the bathrooms by myself in an empty house tonight? Maybe that will be the cure to wanting to be alone for a while.

How do you fight depression when it hasn’t hit yet, but you know it’s coming?

Day 4, The End Is Near


By the last day of Cornerstone, I’m always feeling tired and ready to sleep in my own bed. On the other hand, I know time is running out. I have to soak in every last of moment of the festival that I can before it ends. So I spend the whole day gloriously exhausted, but happy to be so. There are still some good bands to see before its all over.

Caroline Faust plays the first show of the day on the New Band Stage. Backed up by The Urban Sophisticates her set of jazzy pop music harkens back to an older style of music from artists like Ella Fitzgerald. The crowd really gets into it when The Urban Sophisticates give an encore performance at the end of Caroline’s show.

We then catch Escape From Earth, a total throwback to old theatric rock and roll combined with a modern alterna-pop sound. This band is a great deal of fun, featuring all sorts of pick tricks, bouncing them off of their guitars, throwing them in the air and catching in their mouth and all sorts of that. Throw in a cover of “Always Something There To Remind Me” and you’ve got a great show. It’s good to see rock and roll start being fun again.

We quickly catch the end of Nevertheless and then from there go to the Gallery stage to catch part of the show by Josh Garrels Garrels has a distinctive voice and was accompanied by some unique instrumentation, which helped set him apart from the typical singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar.

I was pretty tired by this point so I took some time to do a blog on the Cornerstone Festival website and rest a little bit. I could hear some of John Davis’ set from the Gallery Tent, but I was pretty worn out and the air conditioning felt good, so I stayed put. What I heard of the show sounded pretty good though. I did leave and go to the Gallery Tent for Judd and Maggie. They are backed by a big name label, but they are still a little rough around the edges for me. To their credit, I did really enjoy their home spun folk sound and look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

Next is Leigh Nash on the Gallery Stage. I have to confess that I was a little apprehensive about this show. The last couple of times I had seen Sixpence None the Richer it just seemed like they were slogging through the show and they were weighed down by so much emotional baggage. So, I came into the show wondering if it would actually be enjoyable with Matt Slocum’s absence. I’m happy to say the show was one of the most pleasant surprises of the week. Nash was refreshed and invigorated and her new songs were perfect for her voice. She sang “It Is Well With My Soul” a capella with the crowd and even indulged the crowd in an encore of “Kiss Me.” I was very happy to see her have a good show and her facial expressions are so cute.

Only at Cornerstone can you go straight from Leigh Nash to P.O.D. The band has been a Main Stage staple for years now and they were essentially the grand finale of the festival. As always, the band was powerful and energetic. We were somewhat disapointed that there were no pyrotechnics at their show this year as we had been looking forward to it all week. It’s not my style, but that’s the beauty of Cornerstone. There are so many opportunities to check out so many styles.

I’ve been thinking about the diversity of the festival and to bring it all around to the beginning of the festival I have been thinking about the protestors that greeted us the first day. The signs read “Cornerstone Dishonors God” and they had a list of reasons why the festival dishonored God mostly to due with the appearance of the people at the festival and they acts/films they allow to perform here.

Maybe it’s that diversity that disturbs some people here and exhilirates others. Were there things here at the festival that dishonored God? Surely there had to be. At a place with this many people, some sinful things are inevitably going to happen. However, at the same time, I saw a lot that honored God. I saw people in fellowship, people in prayer, people in worship, people in deep discussion. I’m not sure you can use a blanket statement to condemn such a diverse enivronment where so many right and wrong things are happening. Thank goodness, I can praise God for right things that I exprienced here.

All of my pictures for Cornerstone are now uploaded to Flickr!

Day 3, Unexpected Surprises


After the amazing and jam-packed day on Thursday, I felt like maybe the rest of the festival would be a let-down as I started to get tired from 3 AM night times and being away from home. Thankfully, there was still a lot of great concerts to see and Friday was a pleasant surprise.

The Urban Sophisticates start things off right on the New Band Stage. It doesn’t seem right that a band that has already earned critical and popular praise at Cornerstone should have to start over again at this stage, but the band played well enough to win the crowd all over again. Their brand of hip hop and horns was smooth and hypnotic and reminded me somewhat of The Roots. Caroline Faust joined the band on vocals for a couple of songs and plays her own set tommorrow.

I catch a couple songs of Luminate on the Impromptu Stage before heading over to the Gallery Stage. Chuck and Jerry are working the merchandise and cameras for Jeff Elbel, so I show up early to see Allie Peden who plays a folksy set of Americana music featuring a Dolly Parton cover. Jeff Elbel and Ping follow on the Gallery Stage unveiling a ensemble featuring Jeff’s tounge-in-cheek humor. The highlight of the show for me was an incredible cover of U2’s b-side “North and South of the River.” The show also featured Jerry’s debut on the Gallery Stage throwing t-shirts to the crowd. There’s only one way up from here, Jerry. Mainstage is next.

For dinner, we retreated to the quiet part the grounds for dinner at a campsite. I don’t think I had ever been to this part of the festival area. I didn’t know that such a quiet, peaceful part of Cornerstone even existed. It was sort of nice to get away from the noise of the generator bands and crowds of people. We sat around and had good conversation as the day began to close. This is part of Cornerstone almost as much as seeing the bands.

I didn’t really have any big preference for what I wanted to see in evening, so we all hike around the lake down to Main Stage again. We see MxPx and their entire punk rock show. Surprisingly, I actually recognized a couple of the songs and even more surprisingly I actually enjoyed the show. I’m not a punk fan, but it was actually a lot of fun. Afterwards, Relient K took the stage. This band is infectous, but I left the show early because there was a show at the Gallery Stage that I didn’t want to miss. I was kicking myself though as they launched into a “Top Gun” suite as I was walking out of the ampitheatre. I’m sorry I had to leave.

I was even sorrier when I arrived the Gallery Stage because Ester Drang was still soundchecking when I arrived. I could’ve stayed and seen the “Top Gun” suite. Grrr. Nonetheless, I actually enjoyed Ester Drang’s set quite a bit. The material on their newest album seems a little more focused and less abstract, almost like a movie soundtrack. The music was beautiful and enjoyable. Starflyer 59 finished up the evening at the Gallery Stage. The show was short and sort of non-descript. Not really what I would’ve expected from a midnight Gallery Stage show.

Tommorrow is the last day. I’m tired, but I’ve got energy for one more day.