For those of you who have never been to Cornerstone, this entry may be difficult for you to understand completely, for the other one of you, it has changed a lot since high school but you will get the gist of it.
Cornerstone is a massive field. Some 2.7 million acres of land....well, maybe not quite that big, but it is freakin' huge. On to this land pour tens of thousands of freaks. 70% of these freaks are under the age of 20, and the rest just forgot to grow up. You have never seen so many tattoos, body piercings of recklessly large gauge, and uncontrolled angst. It is a human work of art. Most don't have money to pay rent or eat, but they find their way to just outside of Bushnell IL on borrowed gas money and stale Ramen they dug out of dumpster. I am one of them, and this is my story.
We bought all our food once we arrived, it was much easier than bringing it along. My personal food budget for a typical Cornerstone is $20. Yes, I know that is considerably more than my average week, but hey, this is vacation. The hard part about buying food for a week when fridge space is low (we only had 2 fridges at our campsite for the 16 of us) is finding food that will keep well in the heat. Last year that meant generic granola, a couple apples to eat day 1, and highly processed meat. This year I went all out and got canned pears, peaches, and beans. I washed that down with bagels and peanut butter. I also pitched in for some communal dogs and Dinty Moore Beef Stew. It all set me back a little over $18, but I was technically under budget so I couldn't complain too much.
Our camp site was stellar as always. We spent a little over 6 hours trying to hang a massive tarp above our site, it was at least 100x80, it was intended to cover a large house when shingling in the rain. Despite our efforts with massive amounts of rope, it sagged worse than an 80 year old mother of 10. We scrapped the large tarp effort and went with 3 smaller ones.
In past years we have always done the large single shower stall, custom built of course out of PVC piping, tarp walls, and miles of rubber hose. This year we broke it into two stalls. We found assembling the shower to be much more difficult than usual. Normally we venture into town to relieve the burden of excess pallets from the local merchants to use as shower flooring and go dumpster diving for carpet to cover up the pallets so we don't cut our feet on them. As luck would have it, both our primary source for carpet and our source for pallets were no longer in business. The next 45 minutes consisted of our two vehicles driving around town looking for pallets and getting told to get lost by store employees. Eventually a small grocery store brought us our bounty and we were back on our way.
I suppose the main draw of Cornerstone is the music. It is a music festival after all. If you eat, breathe, and sleep hardcore music, this is the festival for you. While hardcore is leaps and bounds above country, I don't come close to enjoying it. If you are unaware of what hardcore music is, just imagine driving heavy guitar in a near punk rock beat with a double base drum and a mountain lion on vocals. There currently isn't any mainstream secular band that I'm aware of that does this style. Maybe the closest would be Cradle of Filth, of which I've heard only a couple songs. The largest Christian hardcore band out there is Zao, check them out, I'm sure you will hate it. In any event, I wasn't there for the hardcore, but it was fun to watch.
Watching a hardcore show is a mandatory part of experiencing Cornerstone. The pits (mosh pits) are something I would have never believed had I not seen it. The roundhouse kicking, the windmill punches, and the back to back arms clamped joint air kicks are truly a dance. Each of these moves is recognized as a legitimate pit move and each has a name. There is a right way and a wrong way to do each, and I have heard stories of people practicing these moves in their bathrooms in preparation for a show in the bathroom and hitting their head on the sink hard enough to bleed. A couple years previous I was impressed by the handkerchiefs people wore to keep the dust out of their face, last year I was impressed by the teeth guards, this year it was a girl standing in the middle of the pit keeping peace with a bat. Of course it is all for looks, but what amazes me is how trendy this subculture of rebellion has become. It is just a progression of building on the last look and the last move.
There is so much more to tell about Cornerstone - the awesome bands I saw (one was named "88 Miles Per Hour
" after a certain movie close to my heart), the swimming, the video game playing, one of our guys getting shot at, the rave we dance at the first night, and so on, but I've bored you enough already with my tales.