I woke up to only moderately swollen ankles. The heat of the blistering Illinois sun wavered through the tent walls. My heart suddenly leapt in my chest. This was the last day of Cornerstone.
Adrian and Jon were slowly waking. We all woke at the same time every morning. You just couldn't beat that sun. As soon as it hit a certain point in the sky, you had to get out of the tent. I don't remember any outside noise or bugs awakening us. It was always the sun.
Hey, in our defense, the sun is 865,734 miles in diameter. That's at least twice as big as we are! It is brighter than 85% of the stars in the Milky Way! It contains approximately 400 million stars! You do the math! I mean it, you do the math. I'm too lazy, and I'm not even sure what I'm asking you to do the math on. Something about space or something. Have you guys had the Eggnog Milkshake at Sonic? I haven't.
Anyway, we were at Cornerstone, it was the last day, I've never been to Cornerstone again, and Cornerstone doesn't exist anymore. It's almost as sad as the fact that in five billion years, the sun is going to expand and eat us and die. Corndogs.
We got out of the tent, I squablled with that jackass Brantley, and then I took a leak in the port-a-potty because I wasn't comfortable urinating publicly in front of 30,000 people. Then we ate breakfast. Jon's mom had sent like 865,734 breakfast bars, so we had been eating those for breakfast everyday. In fact, pretty much every meal was either a breakfast bar or a bologna sandwich or a brat from generous Minnesotans. There were food vendors at Cornerstone, but we never used them because we were saving money for one thing, and one thing alone, which is redundant because one thing is alone, so one thing is one thing alone. Or something. Like one planet supporting life in a solar system 9.09 billion miles in diameter alone. Of course, I am talking about merch. We were saving all our money for merch. I don't know why space facts keep coming up here. STOP IT, SPACE FACTS!!!
I just realized that I don't have any pictures from this day, so instead, I'll be posting photographs of care bears for your viewing pleasure.
This is Good Luck Bear but I don't know what's so lucky about him because he is just a big stupid bear with no pants on.
What an idiot.
Moving right along naturally, Adrian, Jon, and I loved going to the giant Cornerstone Merch Booth. Of course, you could also buy merch from a band right after their show, but the CMB, which we never even called it once, was where it's at. Or was at, as Cornerstone is as dead as the outer stars of the universe, never to shine light again. But just like those tiny, dwarfy lumps, this Cornerstone Travelogue reaches you years later to shine Cornerstone's life upon your pitiable, hideous face. Well, not you, but definitely you!
Here is Tenderheart, a big stupid bear who whines all the time because all of the chick care bears are only into "bad bears."
Stop whining, you furry jerk.
The Merch Tent was awesome. You never knew who was going to be hanging out under there. One day, Jon and I were wandering around and saw Five Iron Frenzy's Reese Roper standing next to some guy wearing a hat that said SEGA on it. Jon bought the SEGA hat for $5, and I bought my legendary, "Five Iron Frenzy Owes Me a Dollar" shirt from Reese. Sometimes, you'd see people from bands you didn't really like, and smile and nod at them to be polite, but then run into them over and over again every day until it was really, really awkward, kind of like how it will be awkward when, after five billion years of shining down life-giving light, the sun will consume us like I eat Smores Pop-Tarts and not even say sorry or anything because it is a big stupid jerk. Speaking of big stupid jerk, here is Love-a-Lot Bear, who just won't ever shut the hell up.
She also thinks she is better than Tenderheart Bear because she has two hearts instead of one because Care Bears are vain and petty like that.
I got tons of awesome shirts and CD's from the merch tent, though I didn't quite have the luck Jon did. Essentially, if Jon went to the tent alone, the dude from the Tooth & Nail booth said, "Hey, you're tall, here're 500 rare vinyls for free." Randy Newman was right.
This particular day, Bettie Rocket had set up their booth in anticipation of a couple of their bands playing sets that night. I bought a couple CD's from them for $5 each, likeDavid and E.so, then headed to the Indoor Stage to see a trio of bands whose performances I had anticipated. Like, I was "excited to see" anticipated not like "I predict these bands will play at this tent at this time" anticipated. Grammar is weird kind of like this weird bear.
Grumpy Bear is pretty much the only awesome bear because he just tells the truth all the time and everybody hates him for it. Why won't those overfuzzed jerks just leave him the hell alone? Seriously, Care Bears are the worst.
Beanbag were a really cool Australian band that ended up having to break up because life sucks and then you die. Just like the Universe eventually will from heat death. Awesome. Beanbag were a hard rock band, and I reviewed their excellent Welladjusted here. They were full of energy and fun, except when vocalist, Hunz, suddenly said, "We've been on the road for the past two years. We're from Australia. That means we haven't been home in two years. We miss our families." I cried through the rest of their set, so I don't remember it, though stupid Funshine Bear makes me cry even more.
East West: I had purchased East West's first album earlier that year and enjoyed it. East West performed the songs from that album ably, but when they got to "She Cries," not only that album's standout, but an absolutely incredible song in its own right, I had serious doubt that they could not pull it off. Just like scientists doubt any alien race has ever traveled the stars because all civilizations, Earth's included, likely annihilate themselves before they reach a point where that would be technologically feasible. Here's another stupid Care Bear.
This is Share Bear, and she only shares stupidity.
East West actually pulled off "She Cries" flawlessly. The quality of East West's set was largely thanks to Giant Dreadlocked Man, Mike Tubbs, the band's vocalist, as well as co-guitarist. He is also at least nine feet tall, with dreadlocks past his waist. Probably. Anyway, Tubbs was a very engaging frontman, and it's a shame that band broke up.
I was really looking forward to seeing Spoken play because I'd heard their live show was awesome. I must have caught them on a bad day. They were off, and their vocalist, Matt Baird, was all over the place. All over the place is a euphemism here.
Pedro the Lion:
I'm not gonna lie. I hate Pedro the Lion. That dude's music is just straight up depressing. Like, I like depressing music a lot, but like, this dude is really depressing. Like you want to yell "JUST KILL YOURSELF!!!" when you are listening to his music. Or I want to do that. You may want to eat a watermelon or something when you are listening to him. One with a lot of seeds that get stuck in your teeth that you can choke on and finally meet the sweet sweet embrace of sweet sweet death.
Anyone, I'm not a fan of the dude's music, but Adrian has always liked him a lot, so I tagged along to Main Stage to see Pedro the Lion. Pedro the Lion is not the dude's name. The dude's name is David Bazan, but it's more funny to think of him as an extremely depressed lion...you know one that like takes Cymbalta and is always like, "Roar? What's the point, man. There's like, kids with no food to eat, man. What's roarin gonna do? It's all meaningless, man. I'm gonna go shave my mane and listen to The Smiths."
Anyway, after like two songs, Pedro the Lion's guitar broke, so he just did a Q & A for the rest of the set, and...that was the best possible outcome for me: Pedro the Lion's speaking voice is so much less depressing than his like, depressing singing voice.
Adrian wanted to stick around Main Stage to check out Sixpence None the Richer's set. They were another long-time favorite of his, and they had the honor of closing out Main Stage for the festival. However, I wanted to check out two Bettie Rocket bands, likeDavid and E.so, and Jon didn't have a rooting interest in Sixpence, so he came with me.
The difference between a Bettie Rocket band, and say, a Tooth & Nail band became immediately apparent within a few minutes of likeDavid's set. I don't want to be mean, and I'm not going to make jokes at a hardworking band's expense when that band never received fame. Nickelback on the other hand...or is it Nickleback? Ugh, I just thought of having Nickelback in one hand and Nickleback in the other and I don't care how you spell it that's worse than being Pedro the Lion. I'm gonna go shave my head and dunk my naked face under water while listening to Joy Division, so that I can drown to death with a deep and woozy "Love Will Tear Us Apart" bubbling in my ears as I slowly lose consciousness and drift into oblivion. Just like how every planet and star will drift into oblivion, long gone and floating on the dead currents of the universe until every single object is an infinite distance from the next, but still floating, still floating on into nothing, forever and ever and ever and ever.
The second Bettie Rocket band played. Then their set ended. Jon wanted to see Stretch Armstrong, who was in contention for the final show at Cornerstone 2002, along with Ghoti Hook's goodbye show. I've never listened to Ghoti Hook, so I didn't feel like it was fair to be a part of the end of their existence. Speaking of the end of existence, one day you are going to die.
Everyone you know will also die.
Good gracious, this is the single worst thing I have ever posted, and there are still a couple more paragraphs to come.
Sixpence None the Richer:
Stretch Armstrong wasn't set to play for another hour, so I headed back to camp, from where I could hear, but not see the end of Sixpence's set. I don't remember what songs they played, just that this strange land of sweaty men moshing nonstop for a full week inside a mind-bogglingly enormous circle of port-a-potties was suddenly transformed into a whimsical world of eternal spring, where you chase a smiling girl in a flowing dress among fireflies and over streams, under the glow of the moon. Then Sixpence's set ended, and I heard the phrase "What are you wearing?" and looked back to see the creepy walkie-talkie kid, Gary, still in his chair for the 120th straight hour, sly eternal grin on his face, as he eavesdropped on two people apparently about to have walkie-talkie sex. I got off my bucket and headed back to the tents to see Stretch Armstrong.
Remember how the day before, my ankles were like that Duggar lady's would be if she was pregnant with all the kids she's ever had at the same time? Well they might not have been that swollen anymore, but they still hurt. My pace back to the music tents slowed to nearly a crawl, as I had to take frequent breaks to grab onto trees and port-a-potties for balance. By the time I made it to the tent, Stretch Armstrong was well into their set, the tent was full, and I collapsed into the dirt.
When I finally summoned the will to stand, I headed behind the tent and watched the show from the back of the stage. I think the band played their awesome cover of Counting Crows' "Angels of the Silence." I could see Jon right at the front, going freaking nuts. I knew he must surely have smelled terribly, but it was awesome to see my good friend having so much fun. Stretch let the crowd choose their final song for the night: a cover of Modern English's "I Melt With You," or Pink's "Get This Party Started." As good as their original material was, Stretch Armstrong's hardcore covers of pop songs were legendary, so legendary that I am furthering the legend of them 12 years later because I am a legendator. That's a technical term. Just ask any of the scientists who contributed to this thrilling article you've been reading for the last three hours. On that note, I guess I should wrap things up.
After Stretch's tent cleared (sorry, I can't remember what song the crowd picked, but whatever it was, it was awesome), Jon and I found each other and walked back to our camp in a sort of stupor. Surely the last week of awesomness could not have possibly occurred. We would need a second witness to corroborate. Thankfully, when we reached the camp, Adrian was sitting on a bucket. If you haven't picked up on this yet, we sat on a bucket. I don't know where the bucket came from, or why, but we sat on it. I miss that bucket.
"Is this really happening?" we asked Adrian.
"Yes," he said. "And it is awesome."
Then the moon fell from the sky, an asteroid scalped the surface of the Earth, all nuclear warheads went off at once, everyone died from Ebola, and all that heat death stuff I talked about above happened. Cornerstone 2002 was over. But stay tuned. We still had to somehow get home...and in many ways the journey was just beginning...just kidding, this next entry really is the last. Coming Wednesday: Cornerstone 2002, The Epilogue: Please, No More Care Bears.