Cornerstone Coverage: Part 1 | Christian Music Zine Special

Josh Dies and his band Showbread highlight the opening days

Festivals are a great part of Summertime for music lovers and Christian Music Zine’s Adrian Garza spent the week of June 30th-July 3rd in Bushnell, Illinois for Cornerstone Festival, check out what he witnessed!

With all of the buzz, attention, and hard work that goes into Cornerstone Festival, it can
easily be seen as the Super Bowl of the Christian music industry.

Many bands of all sizes put this on their bucket list of things they would like to accomplish in their career
as a band. To either get contacted by the festival to play a stage, or even to pay to play on a much smaller
generator stage, just to get themselves heard by that same audience. There’s a committee of people
(Jesus People USA) who work throughout the whole year to make the festival the best it can be.

But what does this mean when the attendance winds up being approximately one quarter of its yearly average?
People learn to adapt, they roll with the punches, they get creative, and they try to put out the best
bang for your buck. Although there was sort of this black cloud of gloominess to the festival, many
bands fought it off by bringing their “A” game, putting on some of the most memorable
performances I have ever personally seen.

Tuesday, Day 1:

My very first day at the festival was pretty hectic, trying to move in, set up a tent and everything else
associated with camping. Once things got going around 6pm, I got moving to check out some shows.
The actual Cornerstone Festival wasn’t set to start up until Wednesday night, but the grounds were
open from early Tuesday morning and on for generator stages.

Texas Stage really knows their metal. They had a great deal of good sounding unsigned bands play the
stage up until Before There Was Rosalyn finished off the night. They strictly stuck to most of the songs
off of their Victory Records debut, THE FUHRER: an Allegory of a History of Deception. The crowd was
totally into it, it was definitely the “tough guy hardcore” scene that a lot of festival goers were waiting for, with very high energy, plenty of gang vocals and full of hardcore dancing.

Solace Stage, which is ran by the people behind Solace Music Venues over in Joplin, MO had some
great acts play on their stage. One band that I discovered at that stage that night was the Blood and
Ink Records act, Thirtyseven. This Easycore/Pop-Punk Mosh/Pop-Core (whatever people call it these
days) band had a packed out tent and I soon learned why after my first glimpse of their live show.
These guys have such a legit sound. They sound very reminiscent of the Pop-Punk band, MXPX, with a
big Four Years Strong influence thrown in the mix, yet they still sound somewhat original at the same
time. These guys are definitely ones to follow over the next few months as they put out their new LP.
Take it Back! also brought an intense live show to the stage, perhaps drawing in more of a crowd than
Thirtyseven, the band who played right before them.

Legacy Stage had some great punk bands playing throughout the day. Two bands that really stuck out
to me were this old school, Ramones-esque band called True Liberty, and the Celtic Punk Cornerstone
staple, Flatfoot 56. Man, Flatfoot 56 really tore it up. Throughout the 50 minutes that they played,
there was just this seemingly endless circle pit in the middle of the tent that only stopped for about two
slow songs. They even played two new songs, which received a pretty decent audience response, aside
from the fact that the crowd was not familiar with them. To end their set, they got some of the people
in charge of Legacy Stage to come up and share a bit about a loss in their family. They then asked the crowd to live it up and have a great time in memory of their lost family member for Flatfoot’s rendition of the song, “Amazing Grace.”

Wednesday, Day 2:

Wednesday was another good, yet somewhat calm day. Almost like the calm before a storm. The festival
was getting in gear, more and more stages started to open up, and Come and Live! Records had their
showcase day.

Underground Stage had a general mix of shows that day, from Hardcore to Rock & Roll to Punk rock
to Black Metal to whatever genre you would label Listener. Listener, by the way, was pretty amazing.
I got to hear them play a lot of my favorites off their latest album, Wooden Heart, including songs
like “I don’t want to live forever” and “You have never lived because you have never died”. They also
whipped out a 2×4 and beat up a rusty washing machine for their song “Ozark Empire, or a snake oil
salesman comes to your town”, which I thought was pretty original. I can easily say I’ve never seen or
heard anything like that in my life, and I loved every bit of it.

The Anchor/Come and Live! Stage had loads of great worship going on. Fallstar, easily the heaviest
band to play on that stage throughout the week, played a top notch show. Their vocalist, Chris Ratzlaff
really did a great job at showing off the range of his screams, going from low growls with a bass sound to high pitched squeals. They told a few tour stories in between songs, one of them including
how they inadvertently saved the life of a landlord whose pool they happened to be crashing. Those
guys really have a heart for what they do, not just as a band, but as a ministry. One drawback to their
show was that because they played an early set time, hurting their attendance.

Showbread surprisingly played a show of mostly their older, faster songs, with the exception of “Myth of a Christian Nation”, “I Never Liked Anyone and I’m Afraid of People” and “The Fear of God”. Another big shocker was them playing the
controversial “Dead by Dawn”, complete with gang vocals for the chorus.

White Collar Sideshow lives up to their name

White Collar Sideshow played a very solid show, as always. The thing about White Collar is that it doesn’t matter how many
times you’ve seen them play the same show before, each show is just as entertaining and inspirational
as the last. If you haven’t caught them yet, I highly recommend you try to in the future.

Ascend the Hill played some great worship after Showbread finished up and I could see God moving there. It was simply unreal seeing so many people inside of and surrounding the tent, worshipping the living God.

The Main Stage really helped kick things off for Cornerstone 2011 by having DJs Ralph Lindstrom,
followed by Andy Hunter set it off with a rave night, complete with strobes and all. What a great way to kick off a
week of music.

Come back for more coverage of Cornerstone Festival 2011 throughout the week.


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