The Juice Bar

My muses, thoughts, ideas, and whatever

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My trip to Cornerstone 2007 - Day 3: June 29, 2007

Linda! Linda! Linda! That is the name of the morning movie to be screened at Flickerings today. I was promised that this movie about an all-girl Japanese high-school band would make me hum the theme songs for days. In that case, I had better be prepared, so I grab my usual mint frappucino so I’ll stay awake all day and well into the night. Because tonight’s midnight show, The Lost Dogs, will be the highlight of this year’s Cornerstone. I already feel like howling. To prevent myself from such socially unacceptable behavior so early in the morning, I ducked into the Flickerings tent and caught a documentary about a town in Washington and their efforts to reach out to a local Native American tribe. The efforts to overcome the abuse inflicted on the natives by ignorant Americans, and the subsequent healing and restored relationships made for an inspiring story. Then I caught another writing seminar before seeing Linda! Linda! Linda! True enough, the title song is pretty catchy, and this coming of age story about Japanese high-school girls is well done and touching. As I headed out to get some Gyros for lunch, I couldn’t get that song out of my head. I must resolve this dilemma by seeing more bands.

I stopped by the Encore 2 Tent to catch some upbeat keyboard-oriented rock by a group named All the Day Holiday. They were pretty decent and their stage presence was energetic, although those Japanese girls could mosh circles around them. Then I caught a band to which I was looking forward all along, The Dark Romantics, since I heard one of their songs on the local St. Louis community radio station. For them to get on the playlist of the coolest radio station in St. Louis is surely an indicator of quality. And the band put on a really groovy show of alt-power-pop. The kids in the crowd standing by the stage were swaying back and forth, getting into it too, and crowded the band’s merch table after the show, which is a good thing to see. I’ll keep an eye out for them in the future. Hopefully they’ll show up in my town on tour sometime, providing a relief from the countless emo and punk-pop indie bands that pass through clubs around here. Heck, they might get a job touring with the Linda Linda Linda band and become big in Japan. (OK, I promise that’s the last time I’ll say that.)

I then wandered back to the Gallery Stage and settled in for a set by “Doctor Love”, the one and only Mike Roe. Mike performed solo, which is just fine, because he can command a stage by himself better than countless other sensitive guys with guitars. What was cool was that the powers that be at the Gallery Stage bestowed a gift on Mike, a bowling shirt with “Dr. Love” stitched upon it, as a tribute to one of the most influential artists that many of us grew up with on the alt-Christian music scene. I’ve been a fan since I first heard his band the 77s blow my mind with their unique new-wave-styled hard rock on their very first album in the early ‘80s. Mike did a number of hits (OK, they weren’t “hits” on the radio, but they were to the true fans who exorcise the gift of discernment.) Impressively, he even pulled off a solo acoustic version of “MT”, a song that was originally recorded on a sequencer and drum machine. Then he left the stage to thundering acclaim (OK, more like the joyful polite applause of sun-baked folks who had endured three days of heat and rain) of a couple hundred fans in the tent. But he would be back.

After some dinner, I sauntered by the merchandise tent. I saw the guys from Bloodgood hanging out at the “Old School Metal” booth, and I got to shake the hand of Les Carlson, their lead singer. Some folks got their pictures taken with the band and got autographs, but I’m not that crazy about obscure Christian metal. I mean, I’ve moved on from that sort of thing. Now if the Lost Dogs were there, that would be a different story. Haha.

I then headed over to Flickerings and caught some more Haibane Renmei episodes. Then I returned to the same tent to watch a musical event advertised as “Roe vs. Pritzl”. OK, this wasn’t a karate showdown and the Gallery Stage was not transformed into an octagon. Notwithstanding the strange introduction by a guy dressed as Bruce from the classic spoof kung-fu movie “They Call Me Bruce?”, this was going to be an acoustic set by two very talented artists: the aforementioned Mike Roe and Michael Pritzl from the Violet Burning. They traded songs by their respective bands, while engaging in humorous banter. This involved Sunday School flannel boards and whether the word “hit” as regarding each of them should be rendered in the singular or the plural. I enjoyed the performance a lot as well as the opportunity to see these two guys on stage together for the first time. Mike Roe in particular was going well above and beyond the call of duty, since this was the second of three sets he was doing that day. After all, he still had to go on stage with the Lost Dogs that night.

My friends from Camp ‘77s had already thrown their camp chairs down at the foot of the stage in anticipation of sitting at the feet of the Lost Dogs for their show in four hours time. The next singer, Tess Wiley, formerly of Sixpence None the Richer, next took the stage. Her songs were lovely, but I had to leave for now. After all this acoustic music, I needed to get some rock on. In fact, I was ready to take a major nostalgia trip. And the Encore 1 tent was serving up plenty of it for teenagers who grew up in the Church in the 1980s and couldn’t stand listening to the Carman and Amy Grant albums the rest of the kids in youth group were digging. For tonight was ‘80s Christian metal night. Or would a more appropriate moniker be “Old School Metal night.” In any event, I hiked up there ready for some songs about stomping Satan, killing demons, and smashing the gates of Hell. I missed the first band of the night, Whitecross, but Bride was on stage when I walked into the tent. The crowd was a mix of guys my age who were fans back in the day, and of curious kids wondering if these old guys really could rock. Yes they could. Bride tore through their set of stomping hard rock. The lead singer couldn’t quite scream like he used to, but he could growl in a way that could compete with the kids on those generator stages. A few in the crowd raised lighters in tribute. Yes, this is truly Old School Metal. Not that I know what New School Metal is, but I’m not going to bother educating myself in Wikipedia to try to discern the difference.

Next, X-sinner took the stage, and their singer could screech just like the best screamers could do in the ‘80s. After the traditional standard rock opening required of all bands of the era, “Hello (insert name of city here)!”, they ripped into their Ratt and AC/DC-inspired songs with gusto. Then Bloodgood took the stage and rocked the tent, along with the entire Cornerstone site and most of the surrounding county. With Oz Fox from Stryper helping out on guitar, the band played forty-five minutes of speed metal classics, even breaking into Stryper’s “To Hell With the Devil” during one song. Oz Fox and the Bloodgood guitarist did some terrific twin solos, and performed some classic back-to-back raised guitar metal poses to boot. And the lead singer, for his age, ran around the stage with abandon. After they were finished, I was screaming along with the guys in the crowd with graying ponytails and leather jackets. But I couldn’t linger for too long, because I had to get back to the Gallery Stage to stake my spot for the Lost Dogs.

The Lost Dogs stage setup was the most unique I had ever seen at the festival, due to the hand painted backgrounds painted by Mike Knott. The southwestern vistas fit perfectly with the Dogs’ Americana-fueled alt-rock. And the Dogs put on a terrific set of a full two songs. OK, they then came back and did an hour and a half encore. Always count on Terry Taylor to give you a little bit of “schtick”. However, he left the Annointing Meter at home this year. During a couple of songs, the band did invite fans from the audience to do karaoke. The results were similar to the quality exhibited at your usual suburban strip mall bar, except the Lost Dogs songs don’t suck. Their set ended with a heart-rending guitar solo by Mike Roe (decked out in his bowling shirt) during “Eleanor It’s Raining Now.” It was a marvelous way to end another Cornerstone day.

Afterward, as satisfied patrons filed out of the tent and crowded the merchandise table, the folks from Camp 77s milled about. A couple of kids were sleeping underneath the feet of one of our friends. Others basked in the glory of the spirit of rockness we had all been blessed with. Then the killer fatigue hit me big time, and I sauntered back to my tent, managing to reach my tent before I fell asleep. Two-o-clock in the morning sure feels different than it did fifteen years ago when I wandered around the grounds wired after an Adam Again midnight show. I was content to let the country-rock melodies of the Dogs resound in my mind as I collapsed on my air mattress.


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