Cornerstone Festival Ends, Memories Live On

POD cornerstone 2012





They’ve had a long and historic run for the last 28 years, but after this week Cornerstone Music festival will call it quits. The sad news does conjure special memories for us here at Live Fix and more on that in a moment.

As posted on the their website, festival organizers say they’re ending the festival due to financial reasons but they’re all very thankful for the memories:

Dear Cornerstone Festival Family:

We are so grateful to have been able to share with you the gift that has been Cornerstone Festival all these years. Our annual gathering in this truly special community has shaped and illuminated our journeys together and apart, beginning in 1984, when the first Cornerstone drew 5000 people to a small fairgrounds outside Chicago.

Through our peak years in the 90s when tens of thousands celebrated this festival’s amazing unity-in-diversity amid the Midwestern countryside, to more recent belt-tightening days, we’ve traveled our ups and downs together in a way that will be a part of our lives forever.

In 2012, we’ll be celebrating one final Cornerstone Festival together. Based on a range of factors – including changes in the market and a difficult economy – the timing seems right. This was obviously a hard decision, wrestled with over years and particularly over recent months. But with the decision made, we have the opportunity to come together one last time and bring to a happy, grateful – if tearful – close to this chapter of our lives.

Most of you know that Cornerstone Festival grew out of a labor of love from our church and community, Jesus People USA. The festival emerged from JPUSA’s Cornerstone magazine and Resurrection Band. Our community continues to operate one of Chicago’s largest homeless shelters, also bearing the name Cornerstone. We remain confident in God’s faithfulness and grace to lead us on to new chapters in our ongoing journey.

How Cornerstone Changed and Challenged Me

For me, this news does make me sad because I do have great memories of going to Cornerstone in 2000 with a group from my church to see POD, Five Iron Frenzy and other bands that have played big roles in my life when it comes to music that moves and inspires me on deep spiritual level.

And like many in that group that went in 2000, going to Cornerstone was a significant rite of passage for thousands of other young concert fans.

As I’ve shared before, live music is always a spiritual experience for me. But Cornerstone and the memories I made there will always hold a special place in my heart.

It’s actually kind of interesting looking back on my Cornerstone experience and comparing it to other summer music festival moments at Rothbury, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza.

When I went to Cornerstone for the first time, I was in my early twenties and going through a transformative time. I was on a quest to figure out how to integrate faith and culture and express my creativity and spirituality in a way that made sense, wasn’t compromised and felt natural to me.

I remember a series of moments at Cornerstone 2000 when I found myself thinking more and more about what it meant to worship as a community in a church (or christian concert) verus worshiping as a society at large (at a secular concert). I wondered what made Cornerstone different than Woodstock or any other music festival.

I struggled with those thoughts and scenarios a lot at Cornerstone as I watched other fans and listened to how the bands preached from the stage or just play music without saying a word about God.

Taking it all in I struggled to decide if something like Cornerstone was a good thing for anyone to experience.

I wrestled with thoughts about if it was beneficial to have a music festival where only Christian bands played for a Christian audience.

If it was good, why? If not, would Cornerstone be better for fans if it didn’t only have Christian bands on the bill?

What Happened During POD

It was during the POD that I remember losing myself in the beautiful thunder and sweaty tribal rap-rock raucous.

POD was a great live band and I will never forget what it was like to experience them with a crowd of thousands surging, stomping and roaring around me at Cornerstone.

And I remember simultaneously enjoying the pleasure of the moment and wrestling with my big thoughts and heavy questions. That’s what I love about live music. You can float between the serious and the fun and still walk away a changed person.

I didn’t arrive at any clear conclusions at Cornerstone and I was okay with that. And ever since I’ve been on a constant journey to figure those questions out.

That said, looking back, those moments at Cornerstone probably planted the seeds for what Live Fix would become six years later in 2007 and that spirit of the POD moment pops up in some way in all the experiments we’ve done over the years.

I especially dig the 1994 POD video below that really puts the band’s impact on Cornerstone in perspective when you compare it with the one above from 2000.

And I’m not the only one reminiscing and mourning the news about Cornerstone ending.

Reading through the Facebook post from fans after the announcement, many other fans had similar experiences like I did in 2000.

And I’d love to hear yours.

What Do You Remember About Cornerstone?

What are your most memorable experiences at Cornerstone? What bands and experiences challenged and inspired you?

Share your concert experiences and thoughts in the comments below, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341, and we’ll include them in a future episode of Live Fix Radio.


POD Cornerstone – 1994

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