Cornerstone 2012 Review

This doesn’t have much to do with the usual content of this blog, but I’d like to share my thoughts on Cornerstone.  As I posted earlier, my wife took me with her this year and we spent four days at the 29th and final Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, IL.    It’s a big Christian music festival that caters towards more unconventional Christians.   It’s put on by the Jesus People USA – a bunch of old Christian hippies.


I went into it a little skeptical of the music, noting that many Christian bands seem to take a secular band or genre archetype, tweak it a little bit with some Christian themed lyrics and voila, you have a Christian band.   The end result usually ends up with a watered down, hokey version of the original secular band/genre.    The sales pitch usually goes something like “Oh, you like such-and-such band?  Why don’t you try this band?” and you get a second-rate aping of the secular band with more Christian friendly lyrics.  DC Talk is the most prominent example of this with all of their flip-flopping.

Although I wasn’t into a lot of the music, I was convinced of the musical sincerity of just about every band I saw.  None of them seemed like the “hey, this is the flavor of the month, so let’s go this direction” stereotypes out there about Christian music.   Everybody just seemed like regular people playing the kinds of music they wanted to play while giving it a Christian slant.

I would also say that the quality of music was more or less on par with bands of similar stature in the secular world.   There were some good ones, some not-so-good ones and most somewhere in between.   Most of the bands I saw didn’t do much for me, but very few were unbearable or anything.  A few of them were pretty good.   I really liked The Hollands, Blood of the Martyrs, Skies and a couple other hardcore bands.   My Maker and I was pretty good and seemed to go over really well with the audience.     I’ve seen Flatfoot 56 before and thought they were a little too cliche and hokey (but nice guys), but I’ll admit that they were fun to watch with their pool party themed set and I’ve never seen a crowd go nuts like they did for them.  Although I’m not really into them, I appreciate that they spend time in both the secular music world and the Christian world and I know it’s hard for a Christian band to crack the secular world.

We went to an Orthodox service.  I have a fascination with the Orthodox church and find myself drawn to it.  Orthodoxy seems like one of the few nuts out there that the globalists haven’t cracked and it seems to offer something deeper than many of the white-washed Protestant churches, as it’s more or less unyielding and unchanging.   I don’t know if I could get on board with it, but I have a lot of respect for the Orthodox faith.

My wife and I didn’t quite see eye-to-eye on everything.   To her Cornerstone was a chance to see a lot of hardcore bands and be around other people like her (Christians in the hardcore scene).  To me, Cornerstone was a curiosity and I wanted to see some unique stuff.   The second day we were there I was bored out of my mind because pretty much all we did was watch hardcore bands and she didn’t want to check out much else.   I like hardcore and all, but not a whole day in 100 degree heat’s worth.   After explaining it to her, she was more willing to branch out a little more.   I mean, come on – there’s a Christian goth tent.  You can see similar hardcore bands every week, how often do you get to see Christian goths?

On the subject of Christian goths, there were definitely a lot of people that you probably wouldn’t think were Christians by looking at them.   Looks can be deceiving sometimes, I guess.   Crust punks, hippies, goths, punks, hardcore kids, etc.    I understand the allure of the festival because if you’re involved in one of these scenes, you’re probably shunned to varying degrees in mainstream society and if you’re a Christian, you’re probably shunned within your subculture.   It has to be pretty lonely to be a Christian goth.  Everyone likes to be around like-minded individuals and this is probably the only chance a lot of these people get.

So that week was the hottest Cornerstone on record.   The heat made things pretty miserable at times, reaching up to 100 degrees.   I was hating life the day I was going back and forth between bands I wasn’t interested in, knowing that I had a couple days of this left to deal with.   Everything was really dry and dusty too, which made it a little uncomfortable.

We camped out there which was kind of fun.   We had some lentil stew that I dehydrated, pasta with TVP and marinara, a pouch of dehydrated vegan pad thai which was really good and a pouch of dehydrated Nepalese curry which was ok.   Camp food is fun.   We made pancakes one morning but forgot maple syrup so we ate them with peanut butter.  I brought along some pita bread, boiled eggs, hummus, hash brown patties, salami and cheese too.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to eat/live like that, so that was cool.

I’m not sure if I would want to go back to Cornerstone (looks like that decision is made for me anyways since this was the last one), but I’m glad I experienced it.   I know it was a big deal for my wife and I was blown away by what it seemed to mean to other people – many people make it year after year, hell or high water.    It was definitely memorable and unique.


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