Cornerstone 2001: Nolan’s Concert Reviews, July 4

Today’s concerts included Denison Marrs, Unwed Sailor, and Ester Drang.

Denison Marrs

I honestly wasn’t too impressed by this band that many compare to the Smashing Pumpkins. I probably shouldn’t have heard that comparison before I went to the show, because it kind of ruined it for me. There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of creativity or any factor that grabbed me. I think I left a little early from the show. However, they did play pretty intensely, which I was impressed with.


When I first glanced at the day’s schedule, I didn’t see anything that caught my eye. Boy, am I glad I went to the Fi show. I knew the singer (KJ) was an ex-member of The People, whom I saw last year and loved. This year, he was the frontman for a band that was quite a pleasant surprise. The sound was comparable to Ziggy Stardust and Queen, so it was definitely unique to the festival.

Unfortunately, the sound was once again poor, especially on the vocals. The poor sound was a pity, since KJ has an incredible voice. The songs were a bit rough if I recall, but interesting. The final song found him singing about how hot it was and the coolness of playing at Cornerstone. The music had the late 70’s glam feel, with Brian May riffs and Bowie-ish vocals. It was truly another great rock n’ roll show with a twist. I can’t wait to rave about the demo KJ gave me, which was even better

Unwed Sailor

There is a reason Johnathon Ford has been in so many bands (including Roadside Monument and Pedro The Lion); He writes incredible basslines. After hours of no electricity, it finally arrived and allowed Unwed Sailor to take the stage. Their set was cut a bit short, but it was gorgeous at any rate. For most people, instrumental music is a required taste. Some can only get into music with words. Unwed Sailor puts this notion to shame.

A packed tent listened to the beautiful melodies created by a bass and one guitar. There aren’t too many bands out there in which the bass is the lead instrument. A pretty intense set led to Ford becoming so involved that the strap flew from the bass along with the chord. Ford and guitarist Nick Tse seemed to have endless riffs on which to build on, as it was a melodic feast.

Ester Drang

Audibly, Ester Drang put on one of the best shows I may have ever experienced. I emphasize the word “experience,” because that is what it was and nothing else. I knew going into the show what an incredible album they had just released, but I had no idea how intensely beautiful it would sound live.

I don’t recall ever feeling the way I did that night after the show, having to regroup afterwards before speaking to others or seeing anything else that evening. What I heard as I kept my eyes closed nearly the entire time cannot be described. I can tell you that they played songs off of the new album, but I can’t begin to discuss the emotion that was delivered with the music.

The set ended with a wall of sound that was immensely intense as ambient sounds from the keys filled the tent even after they were done playing. It’s becoming more and more difficult to find music that gives me gooseflesh, but Ester Drang’s set did that to me during and afterwards.


The midnight show was nothing but crazy. I stood backstage next to Orlando, and was almost kicked in the head on numerous occasions as he flailed across stage throwing his body and dancing robotically. He is definitely one of the gratest bass players I have seen.

Mercy, the newly added member, sported a silver dress with go-go boots. Besides her gorgeous appearance, she plays a mean guitar and sings heavenly. She was more than a nice addition to the band. Did I mention she dances the cucaracha during one of the more Latin-sounding songs? The keys added an extra punch, also. He kept playing the Doors between songs, which I had no problems with. The band was dressed in black as usual, except for their South American drummer. He was fittingly dressed in a soccer jersey.

Havalina played for about two hours and ended one of the best nights I’ve witnessed at Cornerstone.

Enjoy reading Opus? Want to support my writing? Become a subscriber for just $5/month or $50/year.
Subscribe Today
Return to the Opus homepage