Cornerstone 2002: Jason’s Diary, July 2

Today’s concerts included Mewithoutyou, Havalina, and Starflyer 59.
Havalina cornerstone 2002 4

After sitting through a lot of music that, politely speaking, wasn’t my cup of tea, I was hoping for some good shows today. The first band I caught was The Blamed; I’ve never been a huge fan of their music, but every year, their sets seem to grow on me more and more.

After that was Slow Coming Day, who had just played at my house a few days prior to the fest. Fairly solid indie/emo-rock, if you’re into that sort of thing, and apparently the crowd was. After mulling around for a little bit, I headed back to the campsite until Mewithoutyou started.

After getting a ride on one of those cursed golfcarts (yes, I know given my hatred for those things, that makes me a bit of a hypocrite), I made it to the Mewithoutyou show shortly after it had begun. And what a set it was, as the band delivered a blistering set of songs along the lines of At The Drive-In or …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, with all of their raucous glory.

Clad in black turtlenecks and suitcoats, they sweated more than the crowd in the oppressive heat, especially singer Aaron Weiss, who collapsed time and again as he careened around the stage. An incredible show, and if this is a sign of things to come from Tooth & Nail, I’d say that’s a good thing.

Then it was immediately over to the other stage to catch Fine China, in all of their pop glory. Fine China seemed a little worse for the wear, maybe because their Smiths-flavored pop was assaulted in the midst of punk and hardcore. Vocalist Rob Withem was a bit cheeky, snidely saying that “we’ll get back to the growling soon.”

Fine China’s music was a nice contrast to everything else that was going on, something delicate and lovely in the midst of pop-punk. And they ended the set with “We Rock Hard Than You Ever Knew”; yes, it’s ironic, but in a way, it’s so true. It seems like bands such Fine China have to work extra hard at Cornerstone, given the abundance of punk/hardcore bands, and hopefully some of their effort is paying off.

For my money, Havalina’s sets are one of the festival’s highlights. It’s just fun to see such a unique band take the stage at the fest, and it’s such a shame that they never seem to get the respect they deserve. Unfortunately, I was backstage so I didn’t get the greatest sound as the band played cuts off their great new album, but it did give me a good view of bassist Orlando’s antics (which included nearly taking the head off of a kid in the crowd).

Bandleader Matt Wignall confessed that Cornerstone was one of the things that kept the band, which always seems to incur bad luck (tour issues, broken engines, label problems), going despite all of their travails. Hey buddy… anything we can do to help out.

After Havalina, I took the rest of the day off, heading in Macombe for some pizza and air-conditioning with a couple of friends. Even after just a few days, ice water and central air were luxuries I’d forgotten existed. On the downside, I missed some stellar sets from Busker Kibuttznick and Ticklepenny Corner (or, that’s what Nolan told me). But I did make it back in time for Starflyer 59.

Starflyer’s sets are always hit or miss. When they’re on, it’s incredible, and when they’re off… well… the less said, the better. But tonight, they were on. I daresay this was one of the best Starflyer sets I’ve seen yet, rivalled only by their performance at Cornerstone 2000.

Laying on the atmosphere good and thick, the band played selections that spanned their career, including material from Silver. As an added bonus, Andy Prickett (The Violet Burning, Cush, The Prayer Chain) joined the band on guitar. At times, the band seemed nice and relaxed, with Jason Martin’s guitar keeping things nice and surfy. All in all, a fine way to end the night.

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