The morning after our shows at Mama Linda’s was lovely. I don’t mind sleeping in tents what with my air mattress and earplugs, and other than an awkward stumbling over a body in front of the tent door for a porta-john visit at 3 a.m. (sorry, K.B., but I just couldn’t hold it any longer!!!!), waking up was lovely and exciting because today we were finally going to be at CornerstoneJ
A brief side note about my history with Cornerstone. I first went the summer before college with a crew of about 12 boys. I’d never before done anything close to the amount of camping out, pseudo showering, watching hardcore bands scream all day. Screaming hardcore aside, I did get to know a lot of new music that I still love today (Ester Drang, David Bazan, to name a couple). I’d also never experienced anything like the crowds of people who are Christians but so different from the typical church-folk one expects. Cornerstone was full of Mohawks, tattoos, the presence of all kinds of social justice organizations. A non-religious friend was with us that week, and commented on how the place had a different spirit than shows he normally attends. Here when someone gets trampled in a mosh pit, folks stop, pick him up and brush him off. My second time attending Cornerstone was when Nathan won a contest in which 12 bands got to play a new band showcase (that’s where we met Bare Branches two years ago, also winners). I’d always wanted to go back after that first summer, so this was my chance.
I don’t consider myself someone who really likes to “rough it,” but there’s something special about sleeping in a tent for a week, walking around gross and sweaty all day while you meet new people and hear new music. And there’s something even MORE special about actually performing there!
Cornerstone didn’t technically start until Wednesday, but people start showing up and setting up their tent spaces the day before. Marcia’s husband Travis brought youth from their church, and they staked out a spot for all three of our groups to camp together. Once there we got our pink wristbands (signaling that we’re in a band) and set up camp. Bare Branches had a show scheduled in another town (Normal, Illinoi, ha!) with Homeless Gospel Choir, Listener, and Hushpad; so after setting up our camping gear for the week, we walked around exploring the location of the different stages and merch tent, and then hopped back in the van for the 2 hour trip to Normal for the show. (Not only is the name Normal funny, Ben Folds references it in a song, which makes fans Nate and myself giggle…)
We got there a couple hours before the show started (at a pizza place/bar called Firehouse Pizza), and were joined by Nathan’s parents, his brother Ryan, and his fiancée Chloe. They drove up to meet us for the week of Cornerstone shows. While Nate and Chloe spent some quality time, I found a great café with Wi-Fi where I spent some quality time with my laptop. Love was in the air, friends…
Once again Bare Branches played a great show (see video upload a little later), and I enjoyed my second Listener experience, this time seeing Nate (from Bare Branches) on drums. It was a great show (and a really cool venue), but a horribly late night. Once we finally got out of there and took a Walmart pit-stop, we headed back to Bushnell, getting home around 3:30… yikes!!