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Cornerstone 1999: Jason’s Diary, July 2

Today’s concerts included Ester Drang, Psalters, November Commandment, and Havalina.
Ester drang cornerstone 1999 1
Ester Drang

In many ways, this was the best day of the festival. The day opened with, IMHO, one of the best bands to grace Christian music in a long time. Pedro the Lion is a rare treasure, a band that has reached critical acclaim and gained many fans for simply being honest. I could rant on and on about this band, but I won’t. I saw them last year, and this year was more of the same. Pure gut-wrenching honesty that left me a sobbing wreck by the end of the show.

Appleseed Cast was another band I’d seen last year. I hadn’t been too impressed with them last year, but this year I really got into their set. I left their set somewhat early to head over to the New Band Showcase to check out 2 bands that I was fairly anxious to see.

The first was Ester Drang. I have no idea where that name comes from, but they were billed as a shoegazer band, which immediately piqued my curiosity. I was very impressed with their set, which reminded me of older Morella’s Forest and Fold Zandura, with little bits of The Sea and Cake and Stereolab thrown in. Good stuff all around. Although the noise freakouts got a little too much, at their core, Ester Drang is a band to watch out for.

Cornerstone is a great place to find bands on the edge, bands that, if given the chance, could invigorate and revive the dying animal that is Christian music. Add to that list a band called Psalters. At their core a worship band, Psalters combines Middle-eastern, Jewish, and experimental music in a style vaguely reminiscent of groups like the Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus.

Featuring dancers, percussionists, violinists, and backup vocalists, Psalters was a huge presence on stage, and blew the entire tent away. Although a little rough around the edges (they had only been together for a short time in their Cornerstone incarnation), the skill is there to definitely become a vital creative force in Christian music.

After hanging around for a little bit, and catching a little bit of Ballydowse’s second show, I headed over to see the Goth and Industrial night. There, I caught Cybershadow’s set, a very dark Euro synthpop act. Jess, the lead singer, was a show in and of himself, working up the crowd and prowling around stage. Quite good. The second act was less then impressive, IMHO.

Audio Paradox didn’t really hit me, despite all of the great press and word of mouth that I’ve heard over the past couple of years. I was kind of anxious to see November Commandment, another dark European industrial group, but I was more anxious to see Havalina Rail Co., so after a few minutes of NovCom’s set, I headed over to the Cornerstone Magazine tent to catch their show.

As far as I’m concerned, Havalina’s shows are the stuff of Cornerstone legend. Greer, Tricia (whom I had met just before the Pedro the Lion show), and I got some seats in the back. Although I was much to sore to be doing dancing, I still managed to get down and boogie. Havalina is another one of those bands that fits into the “too good to be ignored which is why they are ignored” category. Doing an odd amalgamation of swing, folk, pop, classical, and jazz, Havalina’s shows are always full of fun, energy, and talent.

Although Havalina was scheduled to play until midnight, they actually were on stage much longer. However, I was willing to stick around for the surprise show afterwards.

Shortly after releasing their 3rd album, I Am The Day Of Current Taste, Roadside Monument broke up. Johnathan Ford, the bass player, is now playing with his new band, Unwed Sailor, and their music was a real treat. Although similar to Roadside, with flourishes of bands like Tortoise, Unwed Sailor is much mellower and gentler. Don Hill described them as “romantic emo” and I can see that. It’s nice to see this kind of music in Christian circles, and I can’t wait to see more of this band.

By this time, it was incredibly late. I headed back over to the Asylum to see what was going on. It took a little while for the place to start hopping, simply because many of the goths were yet to return from The Wedding Party show. Another night was spent hanging out until the wee hours.

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