Now that I’m home, I’m going to document my week at Cornerstone Festival, mostly for my own archival purposes. This is built on my posts on the cornerstonefestival.com blog with a little more details and commentary here.
The weather is incredible so far with a cool breeze and big clouds moving across the sky. Today is REIGNITE day and many bands are making the debut at the festival. I don’t recognize many of the names on the schedule, but I’m having fun discovering new bands. Crimson Refuge started the day out well and Divided By Friday followed it up with a fun show featuring a cover the Temptations “My Girl.”
After a brief lunch, I headed back over to the Encore stages to see Darcy. They were a fun, hooky, catchy band dressed to the nines in vests and ties. Like many of the bands here, this is their first time on the stage here.
On the streets at the entrance of the festival, there are several ad hoc stages put together and powered by generators. These “generator stages” give a lot of bands the chance to play even if they aren’t on the official stages or give the crowd a chance to preview the band before they play their show. Shows on these stages can be totally unpredictable, it can be a noisy mess or a taste of something great. While walking down the street, I stopped to hear a performance by Astellaway. I made a note to catch them again on their Encore Stage later in the week.
The fantastic weather took a turn a little bit later in the day and the wind started coming in. I have been to many Cornerstones now and I’m used to brain-broiling heat, rain, mud, humidity and more, but I’ve never shivered cold in the middle of the day in July. There’s always a first isn’t there?
The windy weather didn’t slow things down on the generator stages, though. Scooby-Doo (or at least someone dressed up like him) made his debut at Cornerstone with the baind Audio Strobelight that played a high energy show that had people dancing in the street. A husband-wive duo called Carolina Story just returned from their honeymoon and traveled here to Cornerstone to play. Their acoustic music was a nice break from the audio assault coming from all the generator stages and they were charming and personal.
Many of the bands on REIGNITE day are here at Cornerstone for the first time. There’s a lot of new acts and on the upside, they bring a lot of new youth and energy. Many of these bands are still rough around the edges and will only improve as they tour and perform more. As I took a dinner break at the Gallery Stage, I was reminded just what a group of experienced musicians can do. Maron brought several JPUSA Cornerstone veterans on the stage and wowed me with a soulful show that started with “We Are Finding Who We Are” by King’s X and kept up the quality throughout the show. I hadn’t even planned on seeing them, I just wanted a place to sit down and eat, but I’m glad I stopped by.
Up until the early evening, I’ve felt like I’m at bizarro Cornerstone. The weather has been cold and windy. The crowd has been scattered across the festival at generator stages so everything felt sparse. REIGINITE Day introduced me to a lot of bands I had never heard before (Stephen Petree was great with his “Telekeyster” and Down From Up brought shredding goodness with covers of Micheal Jackson and Gn’R’s “Sweet Child Of Mine”), but I hadn’t seen anyone I knew all day. I had yet to experience that “hot, crowded tent” show until I walked over to the Indie Community Stage. Deas Vail had the small place packed out and when I walked in and the crowd was buzzing, I finally felt like I was at Cornerstone. The band did not fail to deliver with ethereal high-pitched vocals, keyboards, guitars, and a bass player who took pictures of the crowd as he played.
After the show was over, I strolled over to the Gallery Stage where Los Lonely Boys were playing before an overflowing crowd. I didn’t feel like trying to wade in and try to find an open spot to sit, so I enjoyed just hanging out in the courtyard and listening to the music. With all the people milling about and the music blasting, it finally felt like Cornerstone was under way.