Today was the big day of the fest, featuring a ton of bands I wanted to see. Unfortunately, there were quite a few that I didn’t get to see, including the goth and industrial bands. The day started off with Soul-Junk. These guys put on one of the most surreal shows that I’d ever seen at Cornerstone 1998, and their new album is one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time, so I was really excited.
Unfortunately, their set was a little disappointing, primarily due to a bad mix in the sound, I think. They were still all over the place, pumping out some incredible hip-hop tunes, as well as some worshipful, Beck-ish pop.
After Soul-Junk, I caught the tale end of Jetenderpaul’s set. Consider Jetenderpaul the clown princes of Christian indie music. They’re a lot of fun on stage, making jokes and putting out more quirky pop in a minute then most bands do in their entire catalog.
Velour 100 was up next, and they put on a fabulous show, even pulling out some of their earlier stuff. Previous Velour shows had always been a little disappointing, but this one was great. Their atmospheric pop seemed a little anomalous in the midst of punk and hardcore shows, but I won’t complain.
Joy Electric played their second set, and this one was much better. The crowd was more into it, and we were in the front row videotaping it all. They tore through their set, and Ronnie even came out with a guitar to do some solo stuff off his Unelectric album, which was a nice treat.
Still, Joy Electric is best when they’re pumping out infectious synth-pop, and they never seem to disappoint. And of course, you can’t talk about Joy Electric without mentioning the one and only Juan Gomez, with his tin foil beehive and wands of confetti. Thanks Juan, for making it yet another one to remember.
After Joy Electric, I rushed over to catch the final minutes of Anaphylaxis, another noise group at the fest. I liked them a lot more than White Trash. Their set was just as noisy, if not more so, but also more listenable and beautiful.
After a brief break, we rushed over to the Cornerstone Magazine stage to get good seats for 3 of the most anticipated sets of the fest; Unwed Sailor, Scientific, and Pedro the Lion. We got there plenty early, only to find it was all for naught when everyone stood up and rushed towards the stage. Unwed Sailor played the most beautiful music of the fest, according to my friend Clint. Led by the bass of Johnathan Ford, it was a set of beautiful, melodic indie-rock. Hopefully, they’ll release some new stuff soon.
Scientific had been one of those surprise bands from last year, and had really impressed me with their New Wave leanings. In an e-mail, their lead singer had mentioned that the band was heading in a new direction, which had me a little curious (and worried). Their set was a little rough (both them and Unwed Sailor suffered from bad sound), but they ended it with a huge, noisy freakout that would’ve Stereolab proud.
I suppose I could’ve tried to go backstage to get Pedro the Lion pictures, but I knew I’d much rather see them while surrounded by my friends. Although I think their set last year was better (their set this year seemed to be missing some spontaneity and rawness), they still gave me goosebumps. And there was something incredibly beautiful and poignant when David Bazan closed the set with “Amazing Love” with just his voice and a guitar. It was just one of those times where you feel absolutely at peace, like you truly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right then.
After Pedro The Lion was another unique show, this one in the form of Busker Kibbutznick, an experimental ensemble out of Jesus People USA (the group that puts on Cornerstone). Imagine the Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus, minus the Renaissance angle and more emphasis on the ethnic, tribal side, and you’ve got Busker Kibbutznick.
My friend Don Hill performs in the group, and it was kind of ironic to watch him surrounded by barrels and sawblades and PVC tubing, while everyone else in the group played more “traditional” instruments (sitar, singing bowls, violin, etc.). These guys were much better than The Psalters, although the spoken word element of their music wasn’t too good. I started falling asleep, so I left with the intent of hitting the sack.
However, something in that cold, Cornerstone night air reinvigorated me, so I headed over to Encore 2 to see Stavesacre. I’d really been into Stavesacre at one point, but hadn’t listened to them in ages. I’ve always considered their live shows as must-sees, and this was no different.
Although the lineup had changed somewhat, they still tore through their set of aggressive, passionate music. Mark Salomon was as intense as ever, and the crowd was loving every minute of it. I admit, I felt like a bit of a stick in the mud in my fishing hat, surrounded by kids who were chanting in time with the band. Just another sign I’m getting older I guess.
Still, these guys are good. Real good.