Cornerstone 1998: Jason’s Diary, July 2

Today’s concerts included Pedro the Lion, Damien Jurado, Warlord, and Terry Taylor.

The first band I saw on July 2 was over at the Impromptu stage. As it turned out, Stephanie had a couple of friends from Florida who were playing on the stage. While we were waiting for them to come on, we caught the tail-end of a band called Free Lagoon(?). It wasn’t too bad, with the trio playing some good emo.

After them was Stephanie’s friends, in a band called NPD (Non-Profit Development). I hate to say it, but overall, I wasn’t too impressed. Think of a hardcore version of MxPx, and you’re not too far off the trail. However, I was really suprised at their last song, with featured some incredible Roadside Monument-ish moments. If this is any indication of the rest of their stuff, then they might be a band to keep an eye on.

Later that afternoon, I saw three incredible shows one right after the other. First up was Pedro the Lion, a band I was really excited to see. I had heard their Whole EP, and while I wasn’t impressed at first, I had been won over. To put it simply, their concert had me in tears.

Pedro the Lion’s music could be compared to Bedhead, with it’s emphasis on humble, unassuming, and subtle music that hits you right in the heart with that perfect chord change or lyrical statement. I think they really impressed everyone at the show, because as soon as they were done, everyone made a beeline to the table to pick up their CD. By far, this was the most emotional show I saw at Cornerstone, and perhaps ever.

After Pedro The Lion was Damien Jurado. Indie-folk at its finest, with incredible lyrics. Jurado’s voice wavers and almost threatens to crack, but still delivers some incredible storytelling, whether it’s about a failed relationship, the pain of war, or a purple anteater. His debut album, on Sub Pop, is something that everyone should check out.

I had seen The Merbabies, the next band, last year, and really liked their Dinosaur Jr.-with-a-country-twang approach. Unfortunately, my lack of sleep began to catch up with me at this set, but it was still enjoyable. The last two songs were incredible noise freak-outs, with the drummer simply going nuts all over the place on his kit. Their debut album is out on Jackson Rubio Recordings, and they also had an EP for sale.

The next show I caught was the tailend of Warlord, a band that had been described as “doom hardcore.” While I wouldn’t necessarily buy a CD, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the intensity and ferocity of the band. Even while thrashing about, and falling all over the stage, they still managed to remain together until the end.

After Warlord, it was over to the Asylum to hang out for awhile, meeting some more new faces, including Greer and Vanya. Greer, Vanya, DjDedd, Brandi, Juan, and I all trooped down to the main stage to catch a little bit of Sixpence None The Richer’s set. After finding a good spot amidst all of the mud, and with DjDedd’s garbage bags keeping our rear ends from getting dirty, we sat down for the show.

Now Sixpence is a band that has been plagued with numerous problems with their label and distribution for several years, but their performance showed they had finally conquered it. Sixpence’s music is quite perfect for the live stage, with a sound massive enough to envelope you, but perfected enough to display their true artistic talent. Leigh, the vocalist, was so charming on stage, and seemed genuinely grateful for the chance to play for so many people.

Now with a festival like Cornerstone, there are bound to be some disappointments, and the Saviour Machine show was one of them. Well, let me take that back. You see, I couldn’t tell you if Saviour Machine had been good or not, because I was unable to see the show. By the time I finally got to the tent, it was full and there were ranks of people 5 or 6 bodies thick around all sides of the tent. After waiting in vain for 15 minutes or so to find a spot, I gave up. I’m not blaming anyone, but it seems to me that a show like Saviour Machine, with as much pull as they have, would be better suited at a larger stage, such as Encore 1. But that’s just my 2 cents…

Since I couldn’t see Saviour Machine, I headed over to catch a show by one of the true pioneers in Christian “alternative” music: Terry Taylor. Taylor has been in several truly groundbreaking and acclaimed bands, like Daniel Amos, the Swirling Eddies, and Lost Dogs, not to mention his solo work. Taylor is a true artist, and it’s kind of sad that the new generations don’t appreciate him more (man, that makes me sound like I’m old or something). Taylor seemed to be enjoying himself on stage, cracking jokes with the audience and his band, which featured members from the Prayer Chain and The Choir.

That was the last show I caught, so I headed back over to the Asylum to hang out for awhile, finally hitting the hay at 2:30 in the morning.

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