The shadow of the Roadside Monument show sort of loomed over this day. Earlier this year, message boards hinted at the possibility of Roadside Monument (quite possibly the most criminally underlooked band in Tooth & Nail’s history) getting back together. And when it was announced they’d be playing at midnight at Cornerstone… well, if I’d had any doubts about whether or not I’d be attending the fest, they would’ve been squashed. Not like I had any doubts…
But all good things must be built up to, and so I found myself at the Decapolis Stage (which was actually one of the Encore tents — why can’t they just have one name and call it good?) waiting for the boys of Goat Explosion to take it away. And by “boys,” I mean just that… I don’t think any of them could’ve been older than 18. And yet it made perfect sense that they were born in the 1980s, because their music was infused with the synth-pop of Erasure, the breathiness of Spandau Ballet, and the dance house appeal of Pet Shop Boys.
And topping it all off were the stage antics of Jon Pierce, who pouted and strut his stuff all over the stage. At first, I was skeptical, but as soon as “You Go To Your Doctor, I’ll Go To My Disco” hit, I loved it.
Of course, we were there to see Joy Electric. They had unexpectedly cancelled their set on Tooth & Nail Day, so Nolan and I were really looking forward to it. Alas, the heat raised its ugly head, wreaking havoc with the gear. After the sound cut out for the second time, Ronnie Martin decided to call it quits. A real shame, especially considering how dressed up Juan got for the show.
The rest of the day was fairly lean, as far as shows went. I made it over the New Band Stage and caught the final song of Bestiary, and it was exactly what you’d expect from a band called Bestiary. Black leather, chains, and spiked bracelets galore.
A few years back, I saw an insane band called Farquar Muckenfuss. Well, Mercury Radio Theatre rose from the ashes of that band, but the shtick is still the same. Surf-tinged instrumental rock with a gimmick, this one being that the music is a soundtrack for an old 50s sci-fi radio broadcast. Kind of silly, but still a lot of fun, as the bandmembers (literally) ran around in circles and goofed it up on stage. And you have to give them bonus points for wearing bloodstained surgical garb and medical equipment.
Now, I was planning on heading down to the Main Stage for Tait and TobyMax, but I hung out at the usual spots; Bre and Melissa’s campsite, the Elevator Division’s merch table, the Cornerstone Magazine tent (I especially enjoyed the drumming workshop that highlighted Squarepusher). And indeed, this was really what this year was about, just hanging out with homies that I only get to see once (maybe twice) a year. The fact that I got to see some great bands just sweetened the deal.
And things got really sweet around midnight, when we tromped over to the Underground Stage for Roadside Monument. This was one of the shows for me this year. I’ve loved Roadside Monument’s music ever since Before This Brief Hexagonal and Eight Hours Away From Being A Man can still knock me on my butt every time. I’d seen Roadside a few years earlier, when Stavesacre allowed them to play for 15 minutes before Mark Salomon and Co. took the stage. Those 15 minutes was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
Within moments of taking the stage, Roadside quickly took over, playing music so complex, so deep, and so beautiful that I wished all of those bands playing bar chords on campsite stages would’ve been there… just to see how it’s really done. The band played mostly newer stuff, including a brand new song called “Zysics” (sp?), but for my money, it was songs like “My Hands Are The Thermometers” that made the night for me. The set culminated in “Sperm Ridden Burden,” the “controversial” opening track from Eight Hours Away… Johnathon Ford went ballistic, throwing away his bass before screaming and diving into the surging crowd.
It was a rare, powerful moment, as odd as that sounds. It wasn’t just some cheesy thing to do because, hey, it’s the Underground Stage. If you looked at Ford’s face, it was almost disturbing how much emotion he had worked up. During the whole set, Roadside played with such intensity, an intensity that can’t be forced. It was in the way they play their instruments like their lives depended on it, the way they move onstage, the sheer volume that they forced that poor tent to contain. It’s truly exciting to have them back together and making music again.