I’m back from Cornerstone Festival 2011. While at the festival, I journaled the experience on the Official Cornerstone Festival website, but I’m going to copy those posts to here and expound on them a little bit with a little more personal and critical commentary.
The afternoon was a little bit cooler on the last day I wandered the grounds of the festival a little bit. I started the festival off at the Main Stage. I don’t know that I’m a real big fan of the New Band Showcase being moved to the Main Stage. Even on a cooler day, it’s pretty tough to stand under the open sun at 1 PM with a small crowd as the giant stage engulfs the new band. A lot of people agreed with me as there were often less than 20 people hanging around the stage to see the band. It’s got to be discouraging to travel all the way to the festival to play on the main stage and play to a large open field. Even still, I enjoyed Gaitlin Elms enough to buy their CD.
A pair of festival goers encouraged us to go see The Strive so we wandered down to the Underground Stage. The band had only been together for a couple months, but they displayed a maturity that disguised their youth. They were giving away their CD on recorded CD-R so I picked it up and I’ll listen to it when I get home. For lack of anything else to do (Sunday afternoon was a little sparse on music that I wanted to hear), we wandered down to a small generator stage. The band 3Union, normally an electro-pop band was playing an acoustic set of mostly Relient-K covers to a respectable crowd of teenagers.
One of the great things about Cornerstone Festival is that it almost seems like the rest of the world stops for a week. Almost. I received some sobering news today from home and it has weighed upon my heart most of the day. Adriene called in the morning to let me know that my grandmother was in ill health and would likely pass away soon. There wasn’t much I could do stuck on a cornfield far away in Illinois, but then again there wouldn’t be much for me to do at home in Georgia, so I went on with the festival, but it did blunt some of my excitement and I was left a little subdued and introspective. I thought about Job and his response to his wife, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” and remembered that when David’s son passed away, he went to the temple to praise the Lord.
That’s why I’m glad on Sunday night the Main Stage ended with artists like Alive Band, Luminate, Robbie Seay Band, and Gungor. In sadness, the worship of the Lord is a hard but good thing. There are lot of different messages from a lot of different people at Cornerstone Festival, but I hope here at the end it all ties together. Gungor in particular was compelling and even in the sadness it gave me a great deal of peace to know God still makes “Beautiful Things.”
The Chariot was the final show of the festival and not really my thing, but I’ve heard that their past shows involved destroying things on the stage which at least sounded intriguing. I wasn’t about to jump into the crowd (though Jerry remarked, “tie a rope to me and drag my beaten body out in a couple of mintues, I’m going in!”) but I stood at the edge of the tent to catch the spectacle. There wasn’t much to see, really, we arrived for the “intermission” of the show which involved the Listener guy who has been all over the fest (including performing on one of the Deas Vail songs) doing some spoken word poetry. I guess Henry Rollins made that cool, I don’t know, but it didn’t seem very hardcore (or destructive) to me, so I eventually got bored and went back to the web trailer.
The festival ended as it as the last couple of years with a couple last minute conversations and heartfelt goodbyes with the festival organizers and friends. We had all been in close contact for a week during almost every hour of the day, but now it was time to head in every geographic direction once again. I left feeling subdued due to my grandmother’s illness, but full of joy in friendship and love. Cornerstone is a weird place, but often times it feels a lot C.S. Lewis’ description of home while we reside in “The Far Country.” Tomorrow, it was a long car ride back to The Far Country where my family was waiting, a wife and two children eager see me and I eager to see them as well, and also a larger family preparing for a moment of sorrow and unity together in love. I’m thankful for a week to recharge my batteries before entering a roller-coaster ride at home.